Pruning Decisions on a Satsuki

Several branches were removed in the annual thinning of this Satsuki. While shoot selection is best done in the fall, spring is pretty good for pruning branches. Long story short, we didn’t get to this one last fall, so did both operations in early April: large cuts at the same time as thinning.


Not the greatest azalea in the world but a fun study to try to find balance. The strong branch to the left has aspirations of being a second canopy.


These areas in particular needed attention, places of density or confusion.

  • The highest red circle is of two small branches arising from the inside of a curve, where they’re muddying the design. The tree is full, with many branches, and here we can “agree” with the guideline of removing the pocket branch (for disagreement of this guideline in some cases, check out the Bonsai Heresy chapter ‘Kill the revolutionaries! Pocket branches must die!’ Yes, that’s the actual title…).
  • Moving counterclockwise, the red circle to the right is about thinning a dense branch.
  • To the bottom, there’s a branch crossing in front of the lowest part of the trunk.
  • And to the far left there is too much density and not enough distinction within that heavy low branch.


After pruning / thinning, and wiring. The bark was also brushed at this time. Brushing bark is not only super fun—and an exciting technique to demonstrate for your work buddies over drinks—but the azalea lacewing bug tends to lay its eggs under loose bark so it does have a preventative purpose as well. The pot is…not right for this tree. This pot would be pretty good for a white pine.

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  1. Doug French says:

    I like the decisions you made here. Can I assume you were not concerned about blooming since you are still working on developing the design?

  2. Leroy Goodwin says:

    After considerable hesitation, I will give my opinion. I think the two lowest, secondary, branches off the “aspiring” second truck on the lower left, one large one small, are now a distraction to the flow of the tree, especially since thinning. If they were removed, would that not also slow the enlargement of the “aspiring” trunk? And yes, the should be more feminine for this graceful azalea.
    By the way, how is “my” climbing hydrangea and the hedra helix you bought for a friend?

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