How to Train Your Bonsai


If you are going to grow a bonsai tree and make it look the best it can be, you need to know how to train it. Yes, you actually need to train the tree you are growing!

The best bonsai trees are cultivated well, maintained, styled, and trained by someone who understands the tree and its needs. Even if you are a beginner you can learn to train a bonsai tree with ease. Of course, this is something which takes time and effort, and with a smidgen of patience too.

Basically, training your bonsai tree and shaping it whilst it is growing is what is going to determine the final design. Whilst the tree is growing you will need to lay the framework for your design, and encourage the tree to grow in the right way.

It’s probable that for your first bonsai tree you will go for a miniature indoor version, and that means that styling and training is considerably easier than some other types, such as larger outdoor bonsai trees.

In order to really understand why you need to train your bonsai tree to grow in a particular way, you need to know that bonsai trees grow from normal tree seeds, and there is not actually a bonsai seed as such. For that reason, you need to encourage, train, and style your tree as it grows, to send it more towards bonsai than any other type.

How to Train Your Bonsai

First things first, it’s best to find out as much as possible about bonsai tree growing before you start, and online is a great place to head. Check out the videos at Balcony Bonsai for some of the best advice and guidance from the start of the process, right to the end.

In terms of bonsai training, there are really two main elements – pruning and wiring.


Maintenance pruning and structural/shaping pruning are the two main types of pruning that you need to know about, and they basically describe what they are about in their name. Maintenance pruning is something you can do on an ongoing basis, and this is basically getting rid of dead ends and brown sections of branch.

On the other hand, structural or shaping pruning is a bit more in-depth and should ideally be done during the spring or autumn seasons. This type of pruning is about maintaining and creating shape, and you will need tools to be able to do this.

Defoliation is one of the best known pruning techniques and this means you are removing dead leaves, to allow new ones to follow behind. June is the best month to do this.

This type of pruning is also about removing branches which don’t fit in with the overall shape you are trying to achieve. When you do this, keep the tree at eye length and remove the branches which aren’t in-keeping with your design, but do this carefully.


Wiring is used to bend, curve, and reshape branches, which is what gives a bonsai tree that iconic appearance. This can also work with the trunk too. Wiring is done, as the name would suggest, with wires, and these are usually copper or aluminium.

The wire is removed once the tree is the shape you are looking for, and this should be done in order to avoid cuts or deformations of the shape. In terms of when to do the wiring, unlike pruning, there is no specific time frame, however, if you do this during the summer growing season, you may get quicker results.

Start with the thickest branches first, accommodating the branch with the right thickness of wire, and you will see an overall shape appearing much faster.

Training your bonsai tree will take a little research because whilst we can describe these processes to you, you will probably need to see them in visual form, to further research them and in order to get them right. Make sure you have the correct bonsai tools to hand when carrying out any sort of maintenance on these delicate little trees

Whilst training takes time and effort, this is perhaps the most rewarding part of growing a bonsai tree, because this is where that personal effect really takes shape.

As you see your tree growing, you will see your design emerging, and you will then find maintaining the shape and design becomes a habit you enjoy, rather than a chore you need to fulfill.

It’s always a good idea to really research the maintenance side of a bonsai tree too, because you need to keep it in the best conditions, in order to keep it as healthy as possible.