twin-trunk sweetgum work

Sneak Peek

Developing bonsai from collected trunks takes time – meaning years, not months (I wish). This twin-trunk Sweetgum is in year four now.

Twin-Trunk Sweetgum Work

I lifted this twin-trunk Sweetgum in May of 2018. Here it is in November of that same year, getting a root system established and a basic design started.


A year later the tree was in a bonsai pot and the design was starting to mature.

Fast-forward to today, and the tree is a bush! Within all that foliage is a Sweetgum bonsai that is maturing very well, with thick branches and good trunk character. But it needs a lot of taming.

Let’s look inside. As your trees grow, this is a chore you’ll perform over and over again. Remember, the art of bonsai is convincing a tree to first of all live in a pot, and second of all to look like a real tree. To do this we have to work both below and above ground.

Straight up shoots are a consistent issue. You’ll never get around it completely – but during the basic development years it’s a really annoying problem. But there are always solutions.

Nothing strange here. We prune off the offending shoot, and wire and position a secondary branch coming off the primary branch. I may or may not take off the left-hand fork down the road; I can decide that later.


Here’s something that’s nice to see happen. I have a thinner shoot on a branch that’s frankly too straight and boring. It’s always good when you can opt for more taper and movement.

This is how it’s done. Very straightforward, and it’ll really improve the appearance of the branch.


Look, it’s the same problem I had above. Another straight-up shoot.

The bad shoot is pruned back. Now on to the final major pruning work of the day – the leader of the secondary trunk.


Hard-pruned. I had to leave the leader longer than I ordinarily would have, just because I don’t know where the stub is going to sprout buds. I know where the nodes are, but that doesn’t guarantee a bud will emerge. By leaving it long, I’m almost certain to get more than I can use.

After a final pruning around the tree, this is today’s result. If you compare where it is with where it started out, the advancement is obvious. I have thick branches with good movement and ramification, and the trunk has taken on a really mature appearance. Within the next year, I believe this bonsai will be approaching what could be called a “finished” state. I can then focus on ramification and leaf-size reduction.

Let me know what you think.