Pruning a Japanese maple bonsai tree may look like a standard cut and wire, but bonsai keeping is close to an inspired art form. The sight of those miniaturized trees in beautiful pots can be breathtaking especially if the bonsai has been shaped delicately and carefully.
Many bonsai-keeping experts have developed a good eye and a flawlessly aesthetic approach in shaping bonsai. The art of shaping and training the small tree has become almost second nature to them.
If you are new to bonsai-keeping and you want to learn how the experts shape their bonsai trees, then here are some useful tips that will give you an idea on how bonsai masters prune and shape their little trees. Perhaps, you can apply them when you shape the bonsai that you are keeping in your yard. Knowing the pruning basics is not enough; a certain level of artistry is needed to achieve that showroom bonsai look. It takes time and experience to develop a good eye for bonsai training and shaping.
First, take your clues from nature. There are classic shapes achieved by certain trees whenever they grow in extreme conditions that you can duplicate on a potted tree. For example, a tree which clings to a rocky face of a cliff or a stunted plant which grows on a nearly dry and rocky terrain may be particularly inspiring for you. You can recreate and miniaturize the natural look of stunted trees on a pot. It is also helpful to know that experts prefer to observe trees without any foliage in order for them to see the true structure and form of the tree.
Next, research and take a look at pictures of styled bonsai trees. You cannot learn it on your own overnight. Be patient and keep mental notes. The slanting and cascade or formal upright styles all depend on the type of bonsai tree that you are cultivating. There are classic structures and lines specific for certain varieties of trees. You know exactly what type of tree you have, so go ahead and adapt the styling and training for that particular tree.
Lastly, have fun. Take a nature walk and see the trees and the foliage. In time, the perfect bonsai structure will come to you. Use the pruning tools and tweezers, the training wires and the best pot, and ultimately, your miniature tree will grow to that form that you visualized and planned.