o How do I prune my bonsai?

> In bonsai the terms pruning and pinching are used quite often. These terms can, is some cases, be interchangeable, though there are generally distinctive differences between the two.

> Pruning usually refers to the process of removing large branches and limbs, using specialized types of tools. There is usually a specific time frame and sequence that is followed. This technique is used to "style" raw materials into a form that allows the tree to be trained as a bonsai and not just a bush.

> Trees will quite naturally try to heal over a wound, growing bark over the cut until the scar is covered. This forms a barrier to keep out disease and fungi. Your goal should be to make the cut in such a way that the tree will heal quickly, as well as disguising the cut.

> Some growers seal the wound when they remove a branch. Certain trees may be susceptible to fungus or rot. There are commercial cut wound pastes available from bonsai suppliers. They contain substances that promote bark growth. However, anything that will keep out fungus will work.

> Pinching usually refers to the process of cutting back the current growth. It can, in some cases, be done with the fingers, which is why itís called "pinching." More often than not very sharp scissors are used. This process is used to control growth and to keep the bonsai within the boundaries of the style selected for the tree.

> Both of these procedures can be complicated and take some study and experience to understand. Depending on how and when these techniques are used, disastrous results can occur. The importance of reading some good books on the subject and at least visiting a local bonsai club cannot be stressed enough.

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