8 Essential Tools to Create Beautiful Bonsai

Spring has officially sprung so what better time to talk plants? While bonsai may not be a mainstream gardening technique, it is becoming increasingly popular here in the states. If you're serious about becoming an enthusiast of this ancient Japanese art form, proper gardening tools play an important role in even the most basic bonsai creation.

Each bonsai tool performs a specific task related to the shaping and training of these exquisitely beautiful living masterpieces. The sheer number of bonsai tools available makes it difficult to decide which ones to purchase if you’re new to the art form. Luckily, beginning bonsai gardeners need only a few key tools to get started with this fun and rewarding pastime.

Bonsai enthusiasts utilize different types of shears (or scissors) for controlling the growth of tree specimens. Specialized shears come in a range of sizes. Large shears allow the user to prune thick branches from the bonsai, but cannot manage delicate shaping work. Small bud scissors fit into tight spaces to trim delicate growth like leaves and buds.

Concave Pruner
The concave pruner performs an essential function for the bonsai cultivator. This pruner removes branches by creating a depression wound on the trunk or branch of the bonsai. The elongated cut of the concave pruner ensures rapid healing and minimal scarring.

Wire Cutters
Training the growth of bonsai typically involves the aid of wire to properly position the branches and trunk. Standard wire cutting tools work for cutting lengths of wire; however, once in place, specially designed bonsai cutters snip the training wire without causing damage to the tree.

Root Hook
Repotting bonsai requires a gentle touch and the help of a special tool. The root hook or pick easily removes old soil and helps straighten tangled roots. The single prong of the bonsai root hook cleans the root system, causing little bruising and breakage. The root hook features a rounded tip to further lessen damage to the plant.

Jin Pliers
Accomplish advanced techniques of jin and shari (deadwood) on bonsai with a pair of jin pliers. The pliers compress and tear away bark and wood to create the appearance of dead, weathered limbs on the bonsai. Use jin pliers to tie and unwind training wire.

Trunk Splitter
On occasion, bonsai training calls for a heavy-duty tool. Splitters separate the trunk and thick branches along their length to facilitate positioning. The trunk splitter removes wood in layers, making it easier to bend and shape.

Knob Cutter
The half-sphere blades of the knob cutter resemble a parrot’s beak. This design allows the knob cutter to quickly nibble away at unwanted surface wood. The bonsai knob cutter cleanly removes undesirable bumps, knots or raised scarring on branches and trunks with a biting motion. The tool eliminates excess trunk material to ensure the proper fit of bonsai into its container.

Root Cutter
Root cutters do just what their name implies. While other bonsai gardening tools can be used for the job, the thick blades of the root cutter resist damage from stubborn stumps and stones. The root cutter design resembles a branch or trunk splitter with narrow, angled blades.

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