How To Trim A Bonsai Tree ( 3 Ways)

Last Modified

March 13, 2023 by Hirah Ehsan

Ever wondered how people get their gardens and plants to look so beautiful? You no longer need to wonder about how to trim a bonsai tree. We will teach you how to do this in this article.

A bonsai makes a wonderful addition to your home or workplace. It does require some care and attention, but don’t be intimidated by it.

Genetically modified bonsai trees do not grow taller than normal. The history of bonsai trees is believed to go back nearly 2,000 years, either in Japan or China.

Pruning and trimming your bonsai correctly are necessary to keep it in top condition.  During spring and summer, bonsai trees must have their leaves pruned. The bonsai tree goes through a second period of false growth during this process.

How To Trim A Bonsai Tree

There are 3 ways by which you can trim our Bonsai tree.

1. Maintenance trimming

Take out any dead leaves or weeds.

Bonsai pots may have weeds growing in them as well as dead branches or leaves. Make sure you don’t damage the roots of the bonsai as you remove the weeds. Leaves and twigs that fall from the tree should be picked up and discarded.

Crossed and broken branches should be trimmed.

Branches that rub together result in wounds that facilitate diseases and pests entering the wood. The energy of a tree can be directed towards new growth by removing damaged branches and twigs. It is best to break, cross, or cut broken branches just before they exit from the tree trunk with cutters.

Twigs should only have three or four nodes.

Nodes are the joints where leaves start growing. Cut the twigs when they have six to eight nodes so that only three to four nodes remain. Use branch and knob cutters to trim the branches and knobs above the remainder of the nodes. This prevents the tree from getting too large and promotes its growth.

Spring and summer are ideal times to prune.

Spring and summer are ideal times to prune bonsai trees because they are actively growing during this period. You may see this between March and September depending on your location.

2. Pruning structurally and stylistically

November to February is ideal for pruning.

Pruning during the dormant season ensures that you do not harm your tree or stop its growth. Most often, this happens in November or February.

 Branches should be cut back.

A tree’s protruding branches can be trimmed, along with branches that have an unsightly twist or turn or otherwise appear ugly. The ideal point for cutting the branches is one where the symmetry of the tree is maintained.  Branches can be cut cleanly by using branch cutters.

 The crown and the canopy should be trimmed. 

If you want to make the canopy bigger and allow light to flow through, trim back the branches and twigs at the top of the tree. Make sure to trim excessive branches and shoots to ensure the canopy is round and perfectly balanced.

Tree suckers should be removed. 

There is an offshoot on a tree trunk or on a branch called a sucker. To ensure the balanced aesthetics of the tree, remove the leaves using your fingers. It might be a good idea to remove suckers that are distracting to the overall visual appearance of the bonsai. 

 Conifer tree buds should be snapped off. 

You can compact a shape by pinching out whole needles from overgrown or too-large areas. Remove the needles from the twigs by twisting them. If desired, you can remove the other two needles from each branch. It will encourage the tree to branch out more.

Once new leaves have formed, defoliate deciduous trees.

It encourages smaller, aesthetically pleasing leaves to grow by removing older, long leaves. Leave the stalk alone and remove each leaf at its base. They will be replaced by new leaves of a smaller size.

In this technique, if the defoliation is done at the wrong time of year, the tree may never recover. Most often, this happens in November or February.

3. Caring for Your Bonsai After Pruning 

Apply wound paste to the cuts. 

In order to prevent blood from leaking out too much and to speed up the healing process, massage bonsai wound paste into bruises. Apply a thin layer of cream to each cut with a gloved finger. 

Water the bonsai as soon as it is pruned.

If you prune your bonsai, you should water it deeply to promote new growth. When you water the tree for the first time after pruning, saturate the soil thoroughly.

The tree needs to be watered once a day. 

After pruning, bonsai trees require deep hydration in order to show new growth. Make sure the soil is moist but not too wet. Make sure not to over-water the tree, as excessive watering could cause root rot.

As the tree grows, apply fertilizer every two weeks.

Fertilize your bonsai trees with a bonsai-specific fertilizer. If your bonsai is small, use liquid fertilizer. If your bonsai is large, use granular fertilizer. Make half the volume of fertilizer indicated on the package or dilute it by half.

Your Bonsai – How to Select It

A bonsai tree is typically classified into two categories: temperate and tropical. You need to keep tropical bonsai trees warm during very cold weather because they won’t survive.

You can grow bonsai outdoors in winter if you desire. You should ensure you live in a climate in which tropical bonsai can live outdoors during cooler weather when you decide to buy one.

Styles of bonsai trees primarily depend on the colors, shapes, and sizes of their leaves and trunks. Several bonsai species are available so you can choose the one that fits your needs best.

You should research what type of environment, fertilizer, and soil your tree prefers before choosing your final option so you can ensure that it will grow strong and healthy.

Frequently Asked Question

What is the best way to revive a bonsai tree?

If any of the branches are dying, start by removing them, and then dig out the roots, and remove any dead or decaying roots. As you prepare the new pot, place the plant in a bowl of lukewarm water.  

Mix perlite, moss, and potting soil in a container before planting plants. In the container, place a lukewarm bowl of water after placing the tree in it. After the container has completely drained, place it in an area with shade, warmth, and good ventilation.

Where can I find the main root? 

The root called the “taproot” can be located under the tree after the planting mixture has been carefully removed. In comparison to the main trunk, the taproot is thicker and more prominent. Generally, this growth can be trimmed off, but be careful of the smaller hairs called “air roots”.


Every plant needs trimming for its proper growth and health. Similarly, the Bonsai plant needs trimming too. To maintain the beauty of your plant and increase its life follow the steps discuss above. I hope you find this article of some help. Thank you

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