Pruning of the giant sequoia bonsai can be performed at any time of year to help maintain the desired shape. Major pruning is done when the tree is dormant. The dormancy period occurs here normally from late November to early March. In warmer climates choose the coldest month for major pruning. Major pruning will be required yearly because of the rapidly growing nature of this species. Simple pruning to maintain the desired shape is performed as needed.
The tree in the top image at right is ready for a major pruning. The month is December. This tree has been topped and the uppermost branch is to be used for a new top. The lowermost branches are carefully examined to determine their usefulness. Dead lower branches are removed by cutting close to the trunk with a very sharp pair of bypass pruning shears. Additional lower branches may be removed as well to expose more of the trunk and to reduce the demand on the roots. At this tree’s young age of 4 years it is best to keep the lower branches and foliage intact from at least the halfway point on the trunk. It is only by chance that lower branches regenerate once removed. Although lower buds will form they will mostly abort before becoming a substantial branch. It is best to be conservative when removing lower branches.
The tree is cinched to the stake using flexible tree tape pulling out any bends in the trunk. One inch diameter tree tape is used on the stiff wide trunk. One half inch tape is used on the more flexible small trunk and branches. The new top branch is tied upright to the stake.
The middle image shows a side branch being pruned to shorten its length. The branch is cut close to a lateral branch using very sharp bypass pruning shears. Very little stump is left on the end to encourage and enable rapid healing. The tree is shaped by nipping each branch. The desired shape is that of a teepee. The teepee may have a wide or narrow base depending on what the particular specimen lends itself to.
The bottom image shows the pruned tree at completion. This specimen will now rest until the big spring push of new growth. For root pruning techniques please see the “bonsai root pruning” page in the “About Sequoias” section of this website.