Pinching and Leaf trimming


To maintain 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, as shown in the lower picture.

Leaf Trimming

To the right are two Zelcova leaves which are reproduced to approx actual size. The larger of them was taken from a tree growing in the ground and the smaller from a bonsai.

You can imagine that a Bonsai with leaves of the larger size would look silly. And as you should aim to make your trees as natural looking as possible.

The following applies only to trees that shed their leaves over winter. In late Spring / early Summer leaves change from a soft texture to a harder waxier one, this is the time to think about leaf trimming.

Leaf Trimming is carried out by cutting through the petiole (the leaf stalk) of every leaf on the tree. It should only be done to healthy trees.

the removal of all the leaves tricks the tree into believing that it has just been through a winter and it produces another set of leaves.

Those leaves are smaller and are produced on finer branches.

Over a few years the branches will develop a fine structure which is a pleasure to look at both in leaf and over winter.

Only leaf trim trees that are truly deciduous, that is trees which shed their leaves over winter.

Cutting through the petiole and stalk at the first set of leaves, will cause the latent buds at the leaf axils to start into growth. This, if done carefully will soon give a fine ramified branch structure. The dead stem of the old shoot will soon drop off.

This is what is meant by ramification, a fine tracery of branches that are a pleasure to look at, both in winter and in summer, when covered in small leaves.

Allen. C. Roffey 06:42 05/07/2008