Category Archives: Ramification

Bonsai Pinching

Part 16 of a series by Eugene Howell

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Satsuki Azalea {rhododendron indicum}One of the techniques that a beginner in bonsai learns early is that frequent pinching of growing tips is essential to the development of good ramification. The general rule is that when there are five to seven leaves on a branch; pinch it back to two or three. This is easy enough to understand, but is there any other reason for bonsai pinching, or a need to worry about when to pinch? What happens if you neglect this task for a few weeks? There are two answers to these questions.

When developing the plan for how you want your newly styled bonsai to look three to five years from now, you must remember that in nature, the branches on the lower part of a tree are large in diameter and are long. In examining the tree further up, you’ll notice that the branches progressively get thinner and shorter as they get closer to the top of the tree. This concept of nature is one of the main considerations in selecting which branches are to remain when styling a pre-bonsai for the first time: larger diameter branches at the bottom and thinner branches near the top.
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Bonsai Ramification

Part 11 of a series by Eugene Howell

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Dwarf Procumbeus Juniper One of the techniques that beginning bonsai artists find hard to understand is how to develop leaf pads. Questions concerning this come up more than any other when we work with newcomers to the hobby. So let’s take the time to discuss a couple of the key points in developing bonsai ramification since this is key to having good leaf pads.

Ramification is the repeated division of branches. As a tree grows in nature, the original branches divide and begin growing secondary branches. These in turn divide to produce third and forth branches, and so it goes until the tree is fully grown and covered with thousands of small twigs. By this time each of the tree’s main branches might themselves be branched six or more times before terminating at the leaves. When one looks at the canopy of a tree in nature, you see tens of thousands of leaves held by thousands of small twigs.
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