Pruning Azalea Bonsai

How To Prune Azalea Bonsai : Page 2 of 2

The new Bonsai Book for 2019 by Harry Harrington
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azalea bonsai leaf pruning

Two new 'well-haved' new shoots growing from a single point on the tip of a branch. These shoots do not need removing and are of a good size with short internodes (distance between the leaves along each shoot) and do not need shortening.

azalea bonsai leaf pruning

However, by removing leaves along the length of each shoot (leaf-cutting).........

azalea bonsai leaf pruning

................ the branch lines become visually clearer and more light is allowed to penetrate through the foliage mass............

azalea bonsai leaf pruning

.......and with the same principal as needle-plucking Pine bonsai, the node at the base of each leaf removed then has the opportunity to sprout a new shoot, greatly increasing ramification.

Note that unlike the majority of tree species that are apically-dominant, Azalea are basally-dominant, that is, the lower branches are stronger and more vigorous than those higher up on the tree. This means that the lower branches should be pruned and leaf-plucked slightly harder than those in the apex.

Also note that although totally bare branches will often bud out, it is much safer to ensure that each shoot/branch is left with at least 2 leaves at its tip after pruning.

azalea bonsai branch

The third and final main method of pruning Azalea is simply pruning shoots back. As with deciduous branch pruning, pruning primary branches back to inner secondary branches to create taper and movement is encouraged.

The branch in the image above has grown outside the foliage mass and needs to be shortened back.

azalea bonsai branch

Rather than simply cropping the end of the primary branch which results in heavy whorls of foliage at the tips of heavy, untapered branches, two suitable secondary branches are identified...........

azalea bonsai branch

.......and the branch is shortened back to them. This removes the end of the heavier primary branch leaving two thinner secondary branches at the tip as well as encouraging greater vigour in any secondary branches further back along the branch.

satsuki azalea bonsai

The fully pruned Satsuki Azalea after removing the whorls of new shoots, shortening back long branches and leaf-pulling; the result is a tidy, balanced tree that can now be wired and will bud-back strongly from the inside of the branches.

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