Occasionally I witness a beautiful example of why we do what we do in bonsai. I’d like to share just such an example, highlighted by the plant itself.
Four weeks ago, I cut back this unremarkable boxwood. Perhaps more important than what I did four weeks ago what what I DIDN’T do in the weeks before that. I DIDN’T prune until the new growth had extended and hardened off.
As you may be able to see in the image above, the new growth had extended to several pairs of leaves. Allowing that growth to do its thing and strengthen the plant before cutting, produced the result we are looking for – new branching!
This is how the plant looks today. The branch on the left will be removed at a later date, so the growth was not pruned. What we need to note is that this branch has not pushed new growth like the rest of the tree on the right.
Those dark green leaves are from the first spring growth. They have hardened off and now display a darker color than new growth.
In this top view of the right-hand branch that was pruned you can see fresh, light green leaves popping out everywhere.
Repeating this process over time – allowing the plant to extend and build strength, then cutting back to promote more branching – is how we can develop a tree with lots of branching.
What we must avoid is cutting too soon. If we cut the growth as soon as it extends, that branch won’t be able to gain strength or build up more strength in the tree. This vigor is needed to push new branches.
The same process has been occurring on this faster growing Vicary privet. In fact this tree has been pruned hard twice already this year, and today was number three! The image above was before pruning, and below is after.
This tree is in a branch development phase with sacrifice branches as well, so it doesn’t have a strong silhouette yet, but being able to cut back multiple times a year will help me develop a lot of ramification in this tree. I’m excited to see where I can get it in another year!