How to Prune Bonsai


Without the proper pruning, the bonsai tree would be like any other full sized tree. The pruning of the bonsai is essential in maintaining the tree's small size and shaped finished. The bonsai pruning process includes, not only the trimming of its branches, stems, and foliage, but its trunk and root system.

Step 1

Prune the branches, stems, and foliage of the bonsai tree regularly, according to the tree's needs. Regular pruning will promote vigorous growth, redirect the growth towards its wanted shape, and encourage fine branching and back-budding. Trim the bonsai with sharp pruning shears or scissors that have been sterile. Use an angular cut when trimming to promote rapid healing of the pruned area.

Step 2

Understand the type of bonsai tree and its pruning requirements. While some bonsai trees can be pruned throughout the year, other bonsai trees only react successfully when pruned during certain seasons. The springtime is an ideal pruning time for all bonsai trees when completed just before its growing season.

Step 3

Remove weak, wilted, or diseases areas immediately, regardless of season. Dying areas inhibit the growth of the tree. The bonsai tree will benefit from the removal of dying appendages during any season. This will help the tree to redirect its energy into new growth rather than using the energy to attempt repair of the damaged area.

Step 4

Prune the root system of the bonsai tree during the repotting process. Most well potted bonsai trees will not require repotting for the first year. Mature trees usually require repotting every two to three years. Remove the tree from its container and gently sweep away the excess soil. Carefully comb out the roots in a radial pattern around the tree. Use sterile scissors to trim away no more than one third of the root system. Be sure to remove any damaged or dying roots.

Step 5

Pruning of the larger, thicker roots should be heavier than the finer, fibrous roots. The smaller roots capture moisture and nutrients more efficiently than the larger roots. The rooting system should be shallow to promote miniature growth. Trim the circumference of the root system to fit comfortably into its container.

Step 6

Water the bonsai tree immediately after pruning, especially when completing the root pruning process. Dust and mist the tree's foliage regularly to promote rapidly healing of the pruning wounds.

Things You'll Need

  • Bonsai tree
  • Pruning shears


  • Root Pruning
  • Root Pruning and Why
  • How to Prune a Bonsai Tree
Keywords: pruning bonsai trees, how to prune bonsai trees, bonsai pruning and care

About this Author

Writing professionally since 2004, Charmayne Smith focuses on corporate materials such as training manuals, business plans, grant applications and technical manuals. Smith's articles have appeared in the "Houston Chronicle" and on various websites, drawing on her extensive experience in corporate management and property/casualty insurance.