Sacrifice branches, deciduous

It’s difficult to get good shots of trees growing in the ground, but aside from collecting or buying from someone else doing this, it’s a good way to develop material for the future.

These trees have been allowed to grow freely for two growing seasons, and now that buds are breaking, it’s time to make another round of pruning. Usually, this is to define another section of trunk, or main branch.

Up first for the barber’s chair, this Chinese quince.


Cut the running apex back to a side shoot, facing in the direction of the next intended section. Then, remove the heavy sacrifice branches growing, to encourage finer growth. I’m particularly eager to get this one in a pot, but it is an example of each year in the ground producing an exponentially better bonsai. I’ll make that decision next spring.

Trident Maple, a rather radical pruning, down to about 7″ tall, by 7″ wide! The chop was 2″. The next section of trunk is the small shoot extending toward the front. Another small shoot is at the back, just a little lower, and will be kept to keep sap flowing.






That felt pretty good…how about another? This trident already has great taper and movement, just needs to develop one last section of trunk. The last round of pruning produced several scars, and some reverse taper, so we’ll start over with something that pops at the top, or the closest bud from the shoot that remains, extending to the right, off camera in the “after” shot. That shoot was also clipped a bit to remove the auxin and encourage buds to break closer to, or on the trunk.



Still going? How about a couple root-over-rock tridents? The challenge is to get the roots to develop before the trunk gets too heavy. I’ve cut these back twice a year to keep it even:



A Chinese elm, destined to be a short, fat chunky trunk:


This one was tough, because of my affinity for double trunks, but the split was just a bit too high. I left the remaining section in-tact to help close the pruning scar. After a year or two, it will be reduced to form the next section.

Finally, a zelkova which was a half-dead cutting from my older zelkova bonsai. I really didn’t think it was alive, and spent a couple years finding some courage, then suddenly it leapt out of the ground last year. In the spring, I will make an air-layer on each side, just above the fork. Then, I’ll layer the bottom to get a new, radial set of roots. By then, the trunk should be a solid 3″.


Well…inspired to grow anything in the ground yet?

7 thoughts on “Sacrifice branches, deciduous

  1. Always enjoy seeing your backyard. Clip and grow (outside) in your climate works great. Not so much in mine. Looking good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s