Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cutting back deciduous trees

Your bonsai book tells you to carefully pinch new growth on deciduous tree soon after it appears. This will result in short internodes and some time after this the tree will respond with a second weaker flush and thus it will improve ramification.This is very time consuming. One can spend a whole afternoon with a large maple. And it weakens the tree.
As so often i do exactly the opposite of what the books says. I let the trees grow freely for a few weeks. then I take a medium size hedge shear and cut off the new growth rather ruthlessly within a few minutes. I can handle about 20 to 30 trees in one day. The tree responds strongly with a second flush of lots of buds also back into old wood. Thus my trees are much healthier and the ramification will be very good - much better than with the book method. The trees fatten about five times more than with the book method. Anyway, I do this with ALL my deciduous trees since many years, also with the shohin trees. The quality of my trees must have something to do with my methods. There are folks who write 'Walter may be a great artist, but I doubt his horticultural wisdom'. well, maybe, but just look at my gallery. Do you think this has nothing to do with horticulture?

1 anw 2 Acer palmatum
2 and 3 Lonicera xylostemum
4 Fagus sylvatica


Steven O'Nan said...

Mr. Pall, have you by any chance written a book on how you care for and train your bonsai?

Walter Pall said...

Sure I have written a book. It is four volumes altogether 2,000 pages WITHOUT images. The book is 80% finished. In German. But there is no publisher. The publishing market is in a deep crisis. The internet makes everything cheap. Nobody wants to pay anymore. So there will be no book. Or someone pays 100,000 US$ upfront. That could make me start finishing. it. I bet that after I am dead it will be published and it will become a bestseller.
Let's not discuss this further. So either 100,00 upfront or we leave the status quo.

Fred Knobloch said...

Hi Walter;

I've done the same thing for many years for the same reasons.

It's interesting, when maple growers ask how I achieve such good ramification,I tell them, but they think I'm withholding some secret technique.

João Santos said...

About the book, how about in english? Because it whoud include much more people (me included)!

And yes, I know it means a lot more work to you.

Stavros said...

Hi Walter,

I have been using this method for a a year now, just because i do not have enough time to perform the method describe in books. I am very glad to see that someone of your expertise has very good results..
Have you tried this on other non-deciduous species?
I have tried it on pre-bonsai Junipers....Any comments?

By the way, if you ever decide to finish the book in english (any form is good enough either hard copy or CD), you will find many enthusiasts that would buy it in a blink of an eye..

Walter Pall said...

Stavros, I do the same with conifers as long as they are very immature material. But later one has to look closer to what to cut and what not.


Leven in gedachten said...

Dear Mr. Pall,

Your trees indeed demonstrate the validity of your method. I'm glad you are willing to share your 'secrets' with us. I'm going to use this method from now on. I do have some questions about it, though. I hope you don't mind me asking you to elaborate a little more.

Do you use this method on trees in later stages of development only, or also on trees in earlier stages of development?

Do you cut off all new growth and only new growth?

Thanks in advance for your reaction!


Walter Pall said...


this is of greatast value with trees in very early stages of development.
I don't cut off all new growht. I usually leave a small part of new growth, like one to two buds or internodes. Sometimes I cut into old wood, especially when it has crated buds and ramification. Since the trees are so strong you can do wht you like, they will alwas throw new growth at you.


Luuk said...

Thank you for your quick reaction. It makes things clearer.

I do have some more questions about this technique, however:

-Do you use it just once a year, only on the first flush of growth, or do you repeat the method on the new new growth?

-Do you leave more of the new growth lower down on a developing tree to ensure that the bottom branches will grow thicker than the upper ones?

Your 'goat-pruned' trees proof the effectiveness of this method as well, I think, since goats 'prune' rather ruthlessly as well and they have a preference for younger leaves. So they do more or less the same thing execpt they usually don't use shears...

Walter Pall said...


I do this teo or even three times per vegetatiopn period, depending on species and health of tree.
I do leave lower branches as they are often to thicken them. Many of my trees look funny in summer.