haircut time for water-elms

Sneak Peak

I’ve written about shearing bonsai during their development – a procedure now popularized as “hedge-pruning.” I recently pulled a few Water-elms that had grown enough to need a haircut. See how that went below.

Haircut Time For Water-Elms

We’re at that point in the growing season where it’s time to cut back the rampant growth on trees heavily into their primary development phase.

This triple-trunk specimen is new in its pot for the 2020 season. As the weather has warmed up, the growth has accelerated. Water-elms love the heat, so they grow very nicely during summer (provided you keep the afternoon sun off the pot).

It’s time to prune this one back. The fastest and best way to do this is to shear it to a good silhouette.

This process takes just a few minutes, and it’s pretty much as simple as it sounds. You just take your shears and trim to a shape that’s pleasing and proportionate to the design. You don’t have to be too precise, which is good. I do recommend that you eliminate crossing branches when you do this; they’re a lot easier to spot once you’ve sheared the tree.

(This tree is available at the Shop.)

This raft-style Water-elm was potted up earlier in the season. With the fast growth kicking in, it’s time for a haircut.

This makes a good silhouette, and will be the ultimate outer shape of the bonsai. With that said, it’s important to realize that as this tree ramifies, the detailed branching will change as I directionally prune. For now, I’ve done what I need to do. Back-budding will give me new choices as I go forward with it. But for now, this is what’s needed.

(This tree is also available at the Shop.)

This specimen is in my personal collection, and was initially potted last summer. As part of that process, I wired and positioned the branches needing it. This is essential with all of the bonsai you make. The branching of each tree must be both horticulturally sound, as well as aesthetically pleasing. This is especially true of deciduous species, because when winter comes if you haven’t done a good job at this the bare branches will rat you out.

Here’s the result for this stage of development. In addition to shearing to shape, I also did a somewhat hard-pruning to encourage back-budding. But notice the positions of the branches and their relationship to one another. Again, I’m working toward a design that will be pleasing both during the growing season as well as winter, when the finer structure of the tree will be easy to see.

Let me know what you think. Do you use shearing as part of your design work on deciduous and broadleaf evergreens that backbud well?