A common first step in creating redwood bonsai is to remove most (or all) of the branches.
Removing the branches makes it possible to develop new branches with short internodes, and with short internodes, we have much more flexibility with how dense the resulting tree can become.
For the tree to respond well to initial cutback, it needs to be healthy and have ample roots. I typically let redwoods grow freely for a year or two before cutback to make sure they’re strong enough to produce lots of new shoots.
The shohin-sized coast redwood below was growing well when I pruned it during a presentation for the Bonsai Society of San Francisco earlier this month. Here’s the tree before and after cutback.
I left a few branches long to help them thicken quickly. I’ll shorten them once they reach the desired thickness.
After wiring – 5″ tall
The process is the same for larger trees: keep branches you want to thicken and reduce the rest.
And here’s the tree after pruning and wiring the first two branches on the right.
After pruning and wiring
The next step will be to pinch the new growth at the desired internode length. I’ll say more about that in a future post.
In the meantime, I’ll mention that a great source for redwood pre-bonsai is Mendocino Coast Bonsai. I’ll also note that the best examples of trees grown by this approach were created by Peter Tea.
Submission period for the Pacific Bonsai Expo closes this Saturday, April 30th!
Eric Schrader and I have been overwhelmed by the quality of submissions for this fall’s Expo. If you’re still thinking about submitting, you have until this Saturday at midnight!
Feel free to let either of us know if you have any questions about submitting. To learn more about the process, see the Call for Entries.
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Ken B. says
I live on the coast in So Cal and I was thinking of getting a redwood bonsai. Do these grow better in full sun or should they get filtered sun or shade cloth? As always, thank you for the outstanding articles.
Jonas Dupuich says
I’d guess redwoods would prefer growing under 30% shade cloth, depending on how it gets in your area, but I’d defer to local enthusiasts who’ve had success with the species.