“From a small seed, a mighty tree might grow.” - Aeschylus, Greek poet (525-456 BC)
If you take good care of your bonsai during the short, cold months of Winter, it will reward you in the Spring with strong growth.
After a year of good fertilizer and water this spruce is sending out some good strong Spring growth.
Timing tasks in the Spring to take advantage of this new growth is the key to continuing on the path toward a healthy, happy bonsai all year ’round. There are three key tasks to focus on: pinching, pruning, and wiring.
Pinching is the process of removing new growth (e.g. shoots) from a bonsai to help contain and balance the tree. You will not pinch all the tips; plan to remove only the longest and strongest ten percent of the new shoots, mostly on the top and outside of the tree.
Healthy growth in an evergreen tree such as a Spruce looks like bright green and shiny new leaves jutting from the tips of branches.
Pruning is the process of cutting back branches to balance the growth of the bonsai across different parts of the tree. You will want to cut long shoots on the outer branches and on the top of the tree short and keep the weaker, lower interior branches longer, to help their health improve. This elm is a good example of what you can do in the spring with deciduous material.
In this before and after, you can see how the strongest shoots of the spring growth of this elm was cut back, while weaker growth was left long to enable stronger growth. The large branch at the top is the strongest, and is being left to grow in this case to improve part of the trunk.
Eric’s bonsai teacher always says, “Bonsai is wiring and wiring is bonsai.” Wrapping copper or aluminum wire around the branches of a tree allows you to bend and reposition the branches, and train the bonsai into the style you desire. It takes a few months before the branches are set into the new shape you’ve created; at that point, you should remove the wire. Wiring takes a bit of instruction for many people to learn, but once you learn it can help improve your tree immensely.
A well-cared for Bonsai will shine in the Spring. Making trees into good bonsai is a series of simple steps, of which pinching, pruning, and wiring are key. Spring is the perfect time to focus on these tasks, and help ensure your trees grow into the longer, warmer summer months happy, healthy, and beautiful.