Trim to one main branch? (New to Bonsai!)

PaulTx0121

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Hi all!

I'm very new to the world of Bonsai trees and have today purchased my first one, which is a Japanese Holly. After watching a few videos on how you go about pruning/wiring/caring etc, I'm left with the question of whether or not I'd trim one of the main branches near the base? It seems to stem off of the trunk (See picture attached), right at the base. From what I've seen, the goal is to have the trunk prominent and I'm not sure this is achievable with this branching off so low.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I appreciate this is probably a very novice question (Sorry if that's the case). My end goal is to try and give this a windswept/twirling appearance.

Any help on this would be massively appreciated.

Thanks!
 
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I would remove it simply because it has no movement or interest. Its very straight.

Look up pruning times for broadleaf evergreens if this is a holly... i think best time to remove would be just after the first period of active growth hardens off but someone experienced with the species may know better.

As an aside, I dont believe this species will survive indoors year round so you may want to look into that... i have an American Holly which stays out year round. Im in NJ. It seems you are in TX...
 

DonovanC

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This looks like a sacrificial branch to me - meaning that it was grown with the intention of eventually removing it. It’s too straight with no taper. It’s meant to thicken the base of the tree.
 

PaulTx0121

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I would remove it simply because it has no movement or interest. Its very straight.

Look up pruning times for broadleaf evergreens if this is a holly... i think best time to remove would be just after the first period of active growth hardens off but someone experienced with the species may know better.

As an aside, I dont believe this species will survive indoors year round so you may want to look into that... i have an American Holly which stays out year round. Im in NJ. It seems you are in TX...

Thank you for your help! I'm actually based in Birmingham, UK. A lot colder than Texas I imagine aha. I'll look up the pruning times and hopefully that should provide some clarity :)
 

PaulTx0121

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This looks like a sacrificial branch to me - meaning that it was grown with the intention of eventually removing it. It’s too straight with no taper. It’s meant to thicken the base of the tree.

Awesome, thank you. I'll have a look at the recommended pruning technique/time.
 

DonovanC

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Awesome, thank you. I'll have a look at the recommended pruning technique/time.

I don’t know the species, so I don’t know how well it back-buds, but come spring you can decide whether to remove it completely or cut it down to 5-6cm and start training it as a second trunk. Personally I think a low second trunk reaching slightly to the left would look nice.
 

DonovanC

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Although the picture seems to suggest so, I’m not advocating for a smaller pot, just wanted to show the tree closer to the right side to balance it out given the addition of the second trunk.
Edit: I just noticed that there’s actually a smaller branch in a decent spot on the large branch in question. Perhaps a chop just above that small branch. Just a thought.
 

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leatherback

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I woud chop it off at some point, probably mid-spring.

The tree I see sits in this direction, which means you would have to remove a very big branch higher up at some point too. But.. No need to do all at once.

Fair warning: The plant you have, it really fairly thin. It will in the long run either be a very small tree, or you might decide: I want bigger trees. These are great to practice some things on, but smaller trees are also harder to keep.

1600068700060.png
 

Shibui

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I agree that branch should go or at least be shortened as @DonovanC has suggested for a twin trunk tree.
Don't worry about recommended pruning time. There isn't one. Trees in the wild have no choices about when a storm breaks branches or when wild animals eat some and they still manage to survive. You can prune any time and still end up with the same result.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Japanese holly. There is a problem with common names. There are at least 5 species of holly native to Japan. There are two that are quite common as bonsai, Ilex crenata and Ilex serrata. Ilex dimorphophylla is another commonly grown Japanese holly. Judging by the leaves, my guess would be Ilex crenata. See if you have a tag or label, or receipt, that came with the tree, look for the botanical name, it will start with Ilex. It will may make a difference, you should know which species you have. One resource is Wikipedia. Though Wikipedia descriptions are not even or systematic in what information they cover. For example, the information for Ilex serrata is very sparse, where Ilex crenata has much more complete information. Both seem accurate for what they do have. There are some 480 species of holly distributed world wide.


Birmingham, UK is inland enough that your winters probably are capable of getting pretty cold. Most of the Japanese hollies are hardy outdoors in coastal regions of UK, but I am not familiar with how cold your area gets. I'm in USA, where we get quite a bit colder. A tree in a bonsai pot is probably easiest to care for if you have a location that gets cool to cold, but stays above freezing. Ideal would be constant +1C to +4 C for at least 2 months. If you have good light warmer is okay, but you definitely want night time temperatures getting cooler than +15 C for at least 2 months of the winter.

I would wait until spring or early summer, with the pruning off of that branch. If it were mine, I would probably remove that branch flush with the trunk, but that is my taste working from you photos. Shortening the branch to the small branchlet as suggested above could also work. But as is, it is too long and straight.
 
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The rendering with the left lead balanced out to the left with character would be a game changer but I believe it is too thick to form as such, I would go with removing it especially if you are building towards a directional/windswept finish. I believe personally you could take it off even now being that your in tx,im in NJ where doing it in later winter or early spring would be optimal. Im not familiar enough with year round warm climate
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@HoneyHornet - I disagree with your plans. I would not attempt a windswept at all with this tree. I think the OP, @PaulTx0121 should keep his goal of an informal upright. The current silhouette is fine, he mostly needs to work on branch placement within the silhouette. He has removed a fair amount. Best would be to let it grow through winter and work on refinement next spring or summer.

By the way, the OP is in UK, not Texas. His climate is a little more mild than the climate in Texas.
 
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@HoneyHornet - I disagree with your plans. I would not attempt a windswept at all with this tree. I think the OP, @PaulTx0121 should keep his goal of an informal upright. The current silhouette is fine, he mostly needs to work on branch placement within the silhouette. He has removed a fair amount. Best would be to let it grow through winter and work on refinement next spring or summer.

By the way, the OP is in UK, not Texas. His climate is a little more mild than the climate in Texas.
Maybe I misread I thought his goal was Windswept ,based on OP,which is where i said" ya screw it get rid of the left lead than"

And i dont know where i got TX thought I read that in a comment.. then again I was popping on here and there throughout my work day so there's probably a little skimming involved as well as missing
 
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Maybe I misread I thought his goal was Windswept ,which is where i said" ya screw it get rid of the left lead than"

And i dont know where i got TX thought I read that in a comment.. then again I was popping on here and there throughout my work day so there's probably a little skimming involved as well as missing


After re browsing through the conversation it clearly says he's in UK a few comments above well there's that I'll limit my posting while I'm at work while I'm only getting bits and pieces
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Maybe I misread I thought his goal was Windswept ,based on OP,which is where i said" ya screw it get rid of the left lead than"

And i dont know where i got TX thought I read that in a comment.. then again I was popping on here and there throughout my work day so there's probably a little skimming involved as well as missing


Not a problem, I just made a "strong statement" in order to get the OP to not cut anything off without considering all possibilities. Didn't mean to make you feel like I "checked you" or "blocking you", I just know from experience that sometimes in the "New To Bonsai" threads, the original poster is reading the replies with scissors in hand and will cut as soon as someone says cut here. That is the source of the emphatic tone of my post, nothing more than that.

Always best to read these threads, let the discussion go a few pages. Then if you like one of the options offered, only then pull out your cutting tools. And only cut the way you want to do it.
 

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