American Hornbeam Question


Hello Jonas, hello everyone. I was hoping to ask for some guidance on how to best treat 2 American Hornbeam trees that I recently acquired. They are both in 7 gallon nursery containers and are tall. I’m wanting to understand when and how much to safely reduce it. I do have lower branching to work with. Is now a good time to considerably reduce them or should I just let them grow until they go dormant and do a reduction as well as root prune/repot at the same time. I intend to grown these as medium to large bonsai.

Thank you!

(Jonas Dupuich) #2

Because these trees are so large, I would go about the reduction incrementally. If you cut the trees back all at once, I would expect them to send out very vigorous shoots.

A good time to reduce the trees by about half is May or June when the spring shoots have finished growing. You can reduce the branches again in fall and bare root the trees in winter to get them growing in bonsai soil.


Thank you, Jonas! I appreciate your response.

I do want to ask about 2 of the things you said which is sending out vigorous shoots if the trees were cut back all at once. If I am building the trunk at this point, is this not desirable? Also, since AHs are known to be slow growers, would planting them in the ground be a good idea?

Thanks again!

(Jonas Dupuich) #4

Ah - if you want to build the trunks, you want as much growth as possible. Two notes:

  1. If you grow them in the ground, they grow faster, but can be hard to manage (prune, wire, etc.) over time.
  2. Whether you grow in the ground or in the container, make sure the growth you produce is the growth you want. In other words, the goal isn’t just size - the shape of the trunkline and location of sacrifice branches is important.


Thank you, Jonas! I understand much better now.