How to Trim a Bonsai

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To trim a bonsai tree, always trim back branches in groups of three, trim back the foliage in the spring, and use copper wire to train new growth to grow in various directions. Trim the wood of a bonsai tree in the winter with advice from a sustainable gardener in this free video on gardening.

Part of the Video Series: Garden Maintenance Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi this is Yolanda Vanveen and in this segment we're going to talk about how to trim a bonsai or a bonsai tree or plant. There's so many different types of plants that make bonsais. The word bonsai means a tray with a plant or a tree. A bonsai is any plant that's grown into a tray. And so when you're trimming it, it just depends on what type of look that you want and that will dictate how you trim it. But an easy rule of thumb is to always trim in groups of three. So if there's three branches, you want to trim up to the third branch and leave three little branches together. Because most of bonsai philosophy is based on the three. And when you use clippers, make sure that you have clippers that are sharp on both blades, not just one blade because that will make a sharper cut. And there's a lot of people that swear don't even use clippers, the best way to actually trim your bonsai is to hold the branch with one finger and twist the part that you want off with your hand and actually twist it off and then that way it won't have such a sharp cut and it won't do so much damage to the tree. And a good rule of thumb is in the spring you want to trim your foliage. So if it's real lanky and you want to trim it or you want to use your copper wires and actually train it to go in different directions, the spring is the time to do that because then you'll have a new growth. Whereas in the fall and winter, you don't want to trim any of the foliage, you just want to trim the wood. So if there's dead wood or if there's a root or if there's something that doesn't look good at that point and you want to thin it out a bit, try not to cut the foliage just the wood. So by following the rule of the foliage in the spring and the wood in the fall and winter, you can create a beautiful bonsai in any way that you want.

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