Pruning conifers other than Pines

Pruning Pines


This section addresses the pruning of conifers with Juniper like foliage.


To maintain and develop the foliage pads of a bonsai, the tree will need regular 'Pinching back'. With deciduous trees this will mean pinching (or cutting) off the growing tips of any extended growth, this will cause side budding and give the branch a much finer structure. The resulting fine branches will only be able to produce smaller leaves.

Conifers differ in that you should not pinch (or cut) the tips as this will cause any damaged needles to go brown and spoil the looks of the tree. Conifer tips should be plucked out between the ball of the thumb and the first finger.

Pruning Junipers presents it's own set of problems. You may assume that, as with deciduous trees, if you remove all the growing tips of the foliage the tree will 'backbud', unfortunately this is not the case with Junipers. Removal of all the tips on a particular extention will cause the tree to stop putting energy into that section, killing it. They are like Pines in this respect.

The main objective of pruning Juniper like foliage is to make the tree 'backbud', producing compact foliage pads.

The illustration to the right shows a section of a juniper pad ready for pinching out. The illustration to the far right shows the juniper after pruning. You can see roughly how much to remove. The lower image shows the result of removing all those growing tips, backbudding onto old wood, and the beginning of a good compact foliage pad, which will improve over the years.

And you shouldn't allow foliage to grow in the crotch of a branch. This tends to be a problem with conifers but it can happen with deciduous trees.

Allen. C. Roffey May 4, 2018 15:12