Shaping Your Bonsai

Strive for flowing form when shaping bonsai. Visualize the overall theme and try to get a three-dimensional effect. Remember to select the front, back, and sides of your bonsai before pruning, and don't forget to examine the roots that will influence the growth of these areas.

For overall design. the "Rule of Thirds" is a simple concept to use as a basis for obtaining a pleasing form for your bonsai. The "Rule of Thirds" assures you of getting the proper division of space. In this aid to design, the total space is divided into thirds-- both horizontally and vertically.

Use your pruning shears judiciously to make changes that benefit your bonsai. Fine adjustments are made by wiring and bending and thinning (removal of branches). Remember that a badly designed bonsai will not grow well.

Before shaping a plant into a bonsai, decide whether the best attitude of the tree is upright, slanted, cascaded, or semicascaded. Examine the general form of the tree and note whether it is straight or twisted. Match the potential of a tree to the style that fits it best. Decide whether the base will rise from the soil level or whether you will expose bare roots.

Three basic operations are necessary to establish the basic form in bonsai culture:pruning, nipping and wiring.

You will need the following basic tools: a pair of sharp hook-and-blade pruning shears; a garden trowel; blunt sticks; a pair of sturdy wire cutters; copper wire of various lengths; and a sprinkling can. Also useful are scissors for trimming leaves, tweezers for nipping, and brushes for cleaning top soil.

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