When pre-bonsai are in the trunk-thickening phase, the work is simple – prune to avoid unwanted swelling and wire new shoots where you want movement.
I’ve been doing this work on a batch of crabapples I started from seed for several years now.
To encourage new buds along the trunk, I removed the two main sacrifice branches.
After removing the sacrifice branches – 5″ tall
I don’t know where the front will be at this point, but I’ll have options as long as the trunk has movement.
A candidate front
The work was similar on the tree below.
Crabapple with sacrifice branches
Close-up of the trunk
My goal for this tree is to thicken the top part of the trunk. To do this, I’ll remove the sacrifice branches that emerge from the lower part of the trunk and let the apex grow freely.
After removing the low sacrifice branches
I also wired two small branches that may become part of the final design.
After pruning and wiring – 4″ to top of wire
I expect to do similar work on these trees in spring and again in fall.
This cycle will repeat until the trunk reaches desired size. Once that happens, I’ll move the tree to a smaller container and start refining the branches. Depending on how large I want the trunk to become, this work could begin within 3-5 years.
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Great post as always Jonas. What triggers you to do this work now rather than let the sacrifice branches grow longer? I suspect you still want a decent amount of trunk thickness and by cutting the sacrifices and regrowing them aren’t you slowing this down.
Jonas Dupuich says
Thanks Lars! I’ve seen lots of deciduous trees with big scars so I’ve been trying an approach that doesn’t let the sacrifice branches get too big to see if I can mitigate the scarring. I also plan to make relatively small trees.
If I had more space for growing I’d let some get bigger before cutting to see how I like that approach too.
Thanks. I assume the sacrifice branch maximum diameter has to do with how well the species will callus over? Better callusing trees can get thicker sacrifice branches.
Jonas Dupuich says
Great point Lars, I hadn’t thought about it that way but it makes sense! It’s also the case that the faster the tree is growing, the easier it is for large wounds to callus which means it’s easiest to callus big cuts while the tree is still in the ground.
Will start paying attention to this and see if I can find patterns to follow. Thanks for the note!