Bonsai trees

Forming a Bonsai Tree



(part one; Scissors)


If you already have a bonsai tree, or if you even plan to buy (or obtain one in another way) one, you should know how to look after it in the future. In order to achieve the design goals of your bonsai, it's necessary to care for it continuously and on a regular basis. Of course, you may even buy a tree which is formed very well, so that you maybe think it's not necessary to improve the design anymore. I must agree that even if the style and design doesn't need to be modified, each living tree develops new twigs, new roots and is a living being. Sooner or later, you will find it useful to care for these miniature trees at least once per week. Naturally, you will need specialized tools, techniques, patience, unlimited imagination and inspiration for forming bonsai trees properly. As a bonsai tree owner, I can tell you that buying various tools and pots might waste more money than you expect, and it's usually more than a young tree costs. Bear in mind that you don't need every tool in order to keep your bonsai healthy and nice-looking. Especially if you're a newbie to this hobby, buy less and learn “how-to” instead of spending hundreds of dollars on tools which you may never use.

How to know which twig to cut?


Before you buy any scissors, you should know which twigs you can cut, and which not. Dead twigs don't produce any leaves or spruces and don't grow anymore. However, the above-mentioned reasons don't mean you should cut every dead twig. You should consider cutting the following twigs:

  • 1. If they don't fall into your design goals,
  • 2. If they head to an atypical (can't be found in nature) bearing.


Bonsai scissors


These scissors, used for shortening the twigs, divide themselves into those which are designed to cut thin twigs in rich tops (they have a long arm), and those which are used to cut bigger twigs (they are usually massive and have a big arm). These scissors aren't usually expensive. You should buy them for about $10-$20. Sometimes it's necessary to cut an old twig. It happens that some twigs die after a short/long time. Of course, your bonsai can be healthy and can look terrific even though some twig dies. For cutting old and big twigs, you'll need specialized “bonsai pliers”. These pliers are designed in order to leave cuts as small as possible, that will help a tree to recover easily.

Conical and concave scissors


These scissors create oval cuts and can reach awkward places easily. However, they make deeper cuts than facing concave scissors, so it takes longer for a tree to recover. On the other hand, facing-concave scissors can't reach all places. Expensive scissors which combine attributes of conical and facing-concave scissors are called “side-concave” scissors.

Forming the roots


Besides twigs, a very important part of each bonsai is the root system. Basically, roots should be visible depending on the style and what's more, they should invoke an aged feeling. Roots, like twigs, are usually thick, which means they should be cut. Generally, if you cut 1 small root, the rest must deliver the same nutrition to upper parts of the bonsai. This leads to two things:

  • 1. New roots develop,
  • 2. Roots get bigger.


Occasionally, you can use facing-roots pliers for cutting the roots. Even though their name includes the word “roots”, they're used for twigs much more. When cutting roots, you should start with lifting the root system. Then, unweave each small root with the aid of a root rake and cut those which are very long or don't fall into the final design requirements. For small roots, it's possible to use any scissors. Unlike twigs, big roots can't be cut, because the tree could die. If you're a beginner, I recommend you to start cutting small roots only. Once you get familiar to it, you'll understand which root can be cut without risking anything.

After maintenance, always fix the top levels of soil. For this purpose, you can buy a bonsai sieve. You can remove all leafs or spruces, however it all depends on the the “bonsai's personality”. For example, some trees have moss around them. In this case, it's good to remove any objects such as leafs, herbs. But if it's autumn, yellow leafs may look terrific.

In addition, there are tools such as screw-jack, brushes, pliers for wires (used when wiring) and so on. As I wrote above, it's not necessary to use/buy all tools. Basic care for bonsais can be done with tools mentioned within this article. On the other hand, if you feel that you need some tool, go ahead and buy it. Generally speaking, the more experienced you are, the more wise decisions you make.


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