Category Archives: Shaping Bonsai

Bonsai tool materials – carbon or stainless steel?

A fellow bonsai enthusiast at my bonsai club asked for advice from club members on their choice of tool materials, which prompted me to look into the physical differences between the materials on offer. The bonsai tools most people have include a range of branch, root and knob cutters, pruning shears/secateurs, scissors and pruning saws. […] Read more… >

Root-Shoot Connections (aka sectional growth) – when will pruning one kill the other?

Sometimes in a bonsai context it’s said that specific branches are connected to specific roots – often in discussions about pruning and carving. For example it may be suggested that pruning a specific branch will kill an associated root, or vice versa. As I’ve learned over the last 6 months researching this site, when it […] Read more… >

Live Veins on Bonsai – do they exist?

Most bonsai enthusiasts will have come across the term ‘live veins’ in the context of bonsai. Live veins are areas of living bark surrounded by deadwood. They are often seen on juniper bonsai, where a section of bark twists around the tree in a dramatic contrast to the white deadwood (Sierra juniper are particularly amazing). […] Read more… >

Root Food Storage (or, can I root prune before bud break?)

One piece of advice often given to bonsai enthusiasts is that root pruning should be avoided until bud break – usually the advice says you should wait until the buds are just about to burst and then you can repot to your heart’s content. But is there any scientific basis to this? The rationale for […] Read more… >

Ramification of Roots (lateral root development)

Lateral roots are ones which branch off from the main root – just like lateral or axillary buds aboveground. Lateral root development is how roots branch and ramify – similarly to stems, which ramify through bud initiation and stem growth. Encouraging strong lateral root development is a goal in bonsai, because we want to create […] Read more… >

Gymnosperm (Conifer) Budding

Gymnosperms relevant for bonsai include ginkgo and the Pinales order (Araucariaceae, Cephalotaxaceae, Cupressaceae, Pinaceae, Phyllocladaceae, Podocarpaceae, Sciadopityaceae & Taxaceae – this is explained in The kingdom Plantae and where trees fit in). Ginkgo is a special case described separately at the end of this post. So what we’re interested in in bonsai is where lateral […] Read more… >