Bonsai Repairing
Developing ramifications on your tree is difficult. However, if you are able to understand how your tree grows, you will be to develop pads and layers on your bonsai much quicker and more efficiently.

Back buds are buds that develop on sections of the branch that are closer to the trunk away from the outer foliage. As a tree grows, it will naturally develop foliage further out to reach the sun. The result if left unchecked are leggy branches that extend far away from the trunk.

In bonsai, however, we are always trying to develop more branches that are closer to the trunk. Of course, in some species such as a junipers, we can use wire to direct branches back inwards to give the illusion of inner branches. However, in most deciduous species such as maples or shrub species, you will have to rely on back budding at some point to develop new branches.

Depending on the species of the tree, the back buds will either appear randomly on the branch or only at the nodes. In some species, back budding with not occur at all. It is important to be mindful of these species in order to not prune back too heavily.

Here are 2 tips to help you encourage back budding.

  1. Save some foliage at the end of your branch to continue to direct energy throughout the entire branch. This will help to promote back buds. You may eliminated unnecessary branches. However, save some foliage. After the new buds have matured, you can go back and cut the leggy branch that was saved.
  2. Fertilize normally. Do not fertilize too heavily in hopes to develop buds faster. Buds are younger growth that can burn off easily if too much fertilize is used. If buds begin to develop, let them develop natural. Other side effects of heavy fertilizing during budding is stunted growth or leggy growth (what we're trying to avoid in the first place).
Popular Species for back budding: Junipers, Maples (at the nodes), Chinese Elms, Pomegranate, Bougainvillea, Olives, Boxwoods

When to take care: Only certain types of Black Pine will back bud. If you are in doubt, do not eliminate foliage and branches from Black Pines.