Refining Ficus Bonsai

By October 28, 2017 No Comments


Taking care of your pet is a daily job, and equally so, is training bonsai.  The hobby of bonsai is far from exhibiting your trees, but it needs constant care and daily attention.  Watering, feeding, protecting from insects and foliage pruning is the menu of the day.  While watering is a daily process, pruning your bonsai is carried out every now and then, depending upon the age of the bonsai.  Young bonsai trees needs more frequent pruning and refining, to bring the tree into the right style.  Today, we will be discussing how two young Ficus Bonsai has been refined.

The Refining Technique

Before starting pruning this tree, one needs to study how the tree reacted after the previous pruning and styling.  One needs to follow a constant style until the desired style is achieved.

Pre trimming

On doing so, that means, following the original style, one can do some light changes, depending upon the tree’s reaction.  The bonsai artist has to follow the tree response to previous pruning.  Since this juvenile bonsai will have it’s branches heavily trimmed to achieve the right style, new buds may emerge, due to more light falling on the inner branches.  The artist has to study and decide which new branches to leave and which to remove.  The artist has to decide how to style the new branches left to style the tree.

An initial drawing is very helpful to maintain the original style decision

So with every pruning, and with every new branch, the right decision has to be made, not to push the tree out of the original style, but pushing the tree to move towards this style in a fast pace.  One big mistake in bonsai is not to have an original style in the first place, so with every pruning, instead of refining the bonsai, the artist is creating a new and different style every time.  This way, the bonsai will take a longer time to achieve a desired style.  By planning a style in the first place, and to do so, one needs to do an initial sketch or a drawing, depending upon his artistic abilities, the sketch or drawing will guide him to maintain the style.

A free hand sketch of the original style decision

As already indicated, this should not stop the artist from doing small variations.  Actually these variations will help the original design to be more and more refined.

Ficus after trimming


As you can notice, there is a huge difference between the free hand drawing and the original tree after refining.  The difference is that the free hand design shows the way I would like to bring this tree, once:

  1. The trunk and branches thickens
  2. More movements will be visible
  3. Pads will be formed

Another example:

Before trimming

Refining of the lower branches

Ficus tree after final trimming


  1. Trimming very young branch (greenish color), it will die back to the first and sometimes the second buds along it.
  2. Trimming a old branch (brownish color), it will encourage new growth from plenty of places.  There are hidden buds all along the branch.

Martin Abela

Author Martin Abela

More posts by Martin Abela

Leave a Reply