Bonsai Training: Clip and Grow Method

Of the methods in which you can train your bonsai tree, the clip and grow method is the easiest.  Simply put, it requires just basic shears to do.

However for your tree to develop correctly, you must still follow some basic techniques. First off, make sure you are working with a species that uses the clip and grow method. For the most part, these are Elms, Fukien Tea Trees, Hornbeams, Olives, and most shrub trees.  Black Pines and Junipers use different training methods.

Let your branches grow out:

The biggest mistake that beginners will make is to cut back their branches as soon as there is new growth extending out too far from the trunk.  By doing so, you’ll prevent the branch from developing fully with wood inside the branch. Without wood within the branch, the branch will have no chance of developing new buds from which to grow from.  This will prevent you from developing a pad or layer on your tree.

The easiest way to prevent yourself from making this mistake is to let your tree grow wild. Not only will letting your tree’s branches grow out long thicken the branch but it will also ensure that the branch has wood developed inside. Since most clip and grow tree back bud extremely easily, even if you cut back the branch to where there are no leaves, the tree will back bud and develop new branch on the inside of the branch.  From those branches, you can start developing your pad layer.

Observe the Color of the Branch:

Branches develop over time with the newest growth at the end of the branch and the oldest closest to the trunk.  If you observe the color of the branch, you will notice a point where the branch turns from brown to green only.  The brown or yellow color indicates that wood has developed within the branch. Cutting at the yellow and brown locations will ensure that new buds will develop at that spot.

By avoiding this common mistake, you’ll find that training your clip and grow tree is much easier. Your tree will also develop much faster.