Thickening dawn redwood trunk ... pruning = bad?

bendem

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Hi - Bonsai newbie here. I got a dawn redwood in May this year and it appears to be growing well. Trunk is around an inch in diameter at its base, and so far I've just been focused on trying to keep it healthy and thickening the trunk. Eventually I'll look to do a trunk chop and work on building taper, but I expect that's probably a couple years away.

In the meantime, I've seen lots of advice saying not to prune trees in this training stage, and I've been good about keeping my branch cutters holstered with the safety on when I'm near this tree. But I'd like to double check this point.

I'm also a little aware of more general (non-bonsai) tree pruning guidelines that recommend eliminating branches that are crossing, growing sharply upwards or downwards, blocking sunlight for other branches, etc. My tree's branches have some of the above characteristics.

So here's my question (finally!): As long as my dawn redwood is growing out for trunk girth and it looks healthy and the branches aren't dead or diseased, do I hold off on pruning? Or is there some minor pruning I should be doing at this stage?

Thanks!20210722_190016.jpg20210722_190117.jpg
 

Firstflush

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I would keep an eye on 2 or more branches coming out of one spot to guard against inverse taper.
Sometimes 2 will do nothing to swell the trunk. Sometimes they will if they really take off and are healthy.
 

Shibui

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A lot depends on where you intend to chop. Anything above that obviously does not matter because it will be cut off. Below the cut point you should make choices. Growth will contribute to thickening but will also leave scars after removal so I don't let excess branches on the good part get so big they won't heal after removal. How well a scar heals depends on how much the trunk grows so cuts can be larger in early stages of growth but get rid of as much as possible toward the end of the grow phase.

If I want the trunk to continue a smooth line after chop I try to train a new leader upright when they are small and pliable.
Wiring other sacrifice branches upward will increase their growth and also contribute to trunk increase.

There is an alternative idea that prunes more often even in growth phase. Yes, that will slow the trunk thickening but usually gives much better quality to the final tree with better taper and transition to new sections and fewer, smaller scars. Takes longer but the results are usually much better.

Choices.........
 

sorce

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I'm with "choices"...

Whenever there is "no" physical work to be done, there is always an abundance of "think" work that should be done.

You can't physically make a tree grow faster....

But you can think a 30 year project into an 8 year project.

Sorce
 
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Yes pruning will slow thickening, but if it were my tree, I would look for the tree within the tree, and then let a sacrifice branch or four reach for the sky. I haven’t had experience with Metasequoia, but I do hear they back bud, so chopping is another option, if there is no apparent “tree within the tree”. This would slow thickening even more, but I like to be working towards something as opposed to blind thickening.

I.e. here is my JBP: not great photos, but you can see the controlled thickening.
 

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hinmo24t

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i have a very similar tree and thought process. im not messing with it until at least next spring.
i have an eye on a lower branch im cutting to, maybe to that branch or 6" above it for first hardcut.
mine isnt as tall as i was expecting yet but it is getting thicker and if im near the 1" mark come next spring ill cut it.
if not maybe another year of growth.

mine is an amberglow version of dawn redwood and under the top dressing it is over half an inch thick, id guess .75"

i wouldnt recommend cutting it back hard or much at all until your big move on it

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Joe Dupre'

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Pruning= less food production= slower growth............always. You can make certain parts of a tree grow faster than others, but you can't speed the growth of the trunk by pruning. Make the hard decision of a realistic trunk size you're aiming for. A 1" trunk or a 2 " trunk will need vastly different approaches.
 

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