Topping

The giant sequoia is naturally inclined to grow taller than its competition. Keeping the sequoia small will require a combination of careful topping and pruning. Successful topping is performed as follows:

The sequoia in the top image at the right was shallow potted from a 1 gallon container grown sequoia 1 year ago. This specimen has been allowed to grow without training and has filled the new shallow pot with roots. This one lends itself to training as chokkan bonsai (formal upright). The plan is to eventually have a specimen that resembles a magnificent specimen from the wild but will fit on a table top. The month is now December and the tree is dormant. Now is the time for training as a chokkan bonsai.

Topping is in order for this tree. Careful examination is done to determine which upper branch will be most likely to become a new top. This tree is 34” tall at the beginning of the process. That height would be acceptable for a finished product but this tree is years away from completion. A branch for the new top is selected at about the 20 inch mark. You can see that in the middle image at right.

Using a very sharp set of bypass pruning shears the top is removed very close to the new top branch. You can see in the bottom image at the right that very little stump is left behind at the top. This will speed up the healing time. The wound will be closed or nearly so in one year. Once the top is removed a stake is driven in parallel and close to the trunk. The stake is ideally positioned on the side of the tree opposite the new top branch. 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 next step for this tree will be pruning. Please see the “bonsai pruning” page in the “About Sequoias” section of this website for instruction on proper pruning techniques.


This tree needs topping to control excessive height


An upper branch is selected to become the new top
at an acceptable height



The top is removed and a stake inserted

The giant sequoia is naturally inclined to grow taller than its competition. Keeping the sequoia small will require a combination of careful topping and pruning. Successful topping is performed as follows:


The sequoia in the top image at the right was shallow potted from a 1 gallon container grown sequoia 1 year ago. This specimen has been allowed to grow without training and has filled the new shallow pot with roots. This one lends itself to training as chokkan bonsai (formal upright). The plan is to eventually have a specimen that resembles a magnificent specimen from the wild but will fit on a table top. The month is now December and the tree is dormant. Now is the time for training as a chokkan bonsai.


Topping is in order for this tree. Careful examination is done to determine which upper branch will be most likely to become a new top. This tree is 34” tall at the beginning of the process. That height would be acceptable for a finished product but this tree is years away from completion. A branch for the new top is selected at about the 20 inch mark. You can see that in the middle image at right.


Using a very sharp set of bypass pruning shears the top is removed very close to the new top branch. You can see in the bottom image at the right that very little stump is left behind at the top. This will speed up the healing time. The wound will be closed or nearly so in one year. Once the top is removed a stake is driven in parallel and close to the trunk. The stake is ideally positioned on the side of the tree opposite the new top branch. 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 next step for this tree will be pruning. Please see the “bonsai pruning” page in the “About Sequoias” section of this website for instruction on proper pruning techniques.