Pruning bonsai

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For pruning bonsai, one could write many books. Bonsai is the name given by the Japanese to dwarfed trees grown in containers. One of the difficulties in most parts of the United States is how to carry them over the winter. They must be kept cool enough to avoid the possibility of their starting to grow before winter is over and warm enough to avoid the danger of frost breaking the containers, some of which may be valuable.

If you have a deep cold frame, a greenhouse, or an enclosed porch in which the temperature averages about 45 degrees during the winter with artificial heat that will prevent the temperature from going below 30 degrees and in the other direction not more than 60 degrees and have the urge to grow Bonsai, you will be justified in making an attempt.

A good pruned bonsai A good pruned bonsai

First you should familiarize yourself with the type of plant material favoured by the Japanese by visiting someone in your neighbourhood who has a collection. Next consider the plant material you plan to use. Some of this can be dug up from the wild or you may be able to find suitable plants in your local nursery which you should be able to obtain at reduced prices because they are not symmetrical enough to warrant their sale as specimen plants.

Among suitable evergreens are the following: Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine), P. mughus (Swiss Mountain Pine), Tsuga canadensis (Hemlock), and Chamaecyparis obtusa (Hinoki Cypress). The deciduous flowering trees sometimes used include Prunus subhirtella (Spring Cherry), P. serrulata ( Japanese Flowering Cherry), and P. persica (Peach).

Plants to be dwarfed are sometimes dug up from the wild and potted or planted out in the cold frame. To compensate for the loss of roots, the tops are carefully cut back, making the first steps in shaping up the plant so that it begins to attain the form you desire. The following year they will probably be fit to plant in their permanent containers. These should be shallow with holes in the bottom for drainage.