Developing a River Birch Bonsai

The River Birch below was trained from a seedling for bonsai and spent about three years in the field on a tile to increase the trunk size. Now the tree has been potted into a squat container and allowed to rest for well over a year. From this point it can begin the initial design process. River Birch are notorious for die back so today I just want to prune to stimulate back budding which will prepare the tree to be shortened without the risk of loosing big parts of the trunk.

Here is how the tree currently looks.



Some sacrifice branches were wired down to the edge of the container to keep them from blocking sunlight to important branches and they were tipped to stimulate back budding. The other sacrifice or escape branches are all tipped back and a few totally removed as I felt comfortable doing, again to stimulate back budding. The branches that are usable for the final design were wired to add movement. The tree will rest and be allowed to freely grow and possibly next year the main trunk can be cut down to the new leader.



Here is the back side of the tree where a large sacrifice branch was removed. I don’t want any scars on this tree when it is in a nice pot. Additionally, the sacrifice branch that is helping to close up this wound is simultaneously creating inverse taper at the bottom edge. For now however, I need that branch to close the wound and I will be considering adding a few grafts near the base to build better nebari and help the inverse taper at the same time if I can.



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