Cutting bonsai - basic rules and tips

Cutting bonsai - basic rules and tips

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Regular pruning is one of the most important maintenance measures for a bonsai. But he wants to be learned. You have to observe some basic rules in advance.

If you choose a garden bonsai, you also decide to give the plant lots of love, care and attention. Armed with water and scissors alone is by no means a thing of the past.

The right location also determines the success of a bonsai. For example, the high-quality Japanese bonsai Pinus Parviflora (white pine) needs a lot of sun, whereas the Japanese yew Taxus Cuspidata is also satisfied with a shady spot (source: care instructions from So it depends on the type of bonsai. And that applies not only to the location, but also to the cut.

Regular cutting is therefore one of the most important bonsai maintenance measures. Because it only decides on the shape. Finally, the basic structure of the tree must be shown. The branches must not grow wild and the course of the trunk must be recognizable. Even if the actual cut depends on the particular variety, the basic rules apply to all types.

The right tool

Whether it is roses, fruit trees or other plants - when it comes to cutting, the best tool is required. Otherwise the branches will be squeezed rather than cut. In the worst case, pathogens could accumulate and destroy the plant.

Special bonsai pruners and tongs are best suited for bonsai pruning. And who can hardly believe it? The best models come directly from Japan, the country where the bonsai originate. There are of course Chinese products that are a lot cheaper, but the quality is absolutely not comparable. The tools from Japan are sharp (and remain so) and are much easier to use. Every now and then a higher investment is worthwhile.

If possible, the pliers are available in several sizes. So you have the right pliers for every branch.

Reasons for the regular cut

The reasons for the regular cut are very diverse. There are different reasons behind each part of the bonsai.

  • The branches are cut, for example, to give the bonsai a basic structure. The cut is there to align the tree and ensure a harmonious growth.
  • The leaves of the bonsai are cut to achieve new shoots and to promote the growth of the branch. In addition, the shape cut is also very important here.
  • The trunk, for example, urgently needs the cut to grow evenly. In addition, a new trunk course can also be formed in this way.
  • You have to cut the roots to curb growth. If you don't cut the roots, it would simply become too big. In addition, the roots need enough space in the often relatively small container.
Such shapes can only develop with a regular cut

10 basic rules for regular bonsai pruning

Rule No. 1:

1 All branches that move inwards towards the crown must be cut off.

Rule No. 2:

2 There are no two intersecting branches in a bonsai. You have to decide which of the two fits the picture less. As difficult as it is sometimes, a branch must believe in it and be cut off.

Rule No. 3:

3 Small thin branches that grow out of the trunk must be shortened. The cut is made directly at the base. The only exception: if you need a branch exactly at the point, it can remain.

Rule number 4:

4 The branches must not face each other. In a bonsai, the branches must be arranged alternately.

Rule number 5:

5 branches that are bent unnaturally or have strange twists or curves are cut off.

Rule number 6:

6 If it happens that a relatively thick branch has formed in the upper part of the tree, this must also be removed. The natural look of the tree has thick branches at the bottom and the narrowing towards the top.

Rule number 7:

7 Cut old branches to stimulate the sleeping buds to grow. This is how the inner tree crown can be renewed.

Rule number 8:

8 Always cut strong shoots diagonally, directly above the bud. Weak shoots are cut off at right angles to the growth direction.

Rule number 9:

9 Small thin branches can be cut all year round. With the thicker branches, you should pay attention to the rest period. This is for bonsai in winter. But be careful: only cut on frost-free days!

" Important NOTE: Do not place outdoor bonsai in heated rooms during winter. The hibernation would be disturbed. Hibernation is vital for these plants (source: care tips from!

Rule number 10:

10 Every cut you make leaves a scar on the bonsai. Accordingly, you should treat the scars with a wound closure after the cut. This mainly affects large cuts.

This wound closure ensures that no pests and diseases penetrate. In addition, the wound grows faster.

Worth reading:

Anyone who has bought a new bonsai is, of course, occasionally afraid of doing something wrong. And since the large plants are not necessarily cheap for the garden, one should avoid gross mistakes.

During my research I came across this checklist. Here you will find the 10 most serious mistakes in handling a bonsai. Highly recommended!

10 serious mistakes that you should definitely avoid so that your bonsai remains healthy, beautiful and strong - free of charge as a PDF file