How to proceed with this ume

So I bought two prunus mume (ume). I read up a lot and looked through all the q&a videos to get info on ume. What I learned was that it’s supposed to put out flowers, when they fall off new buds (with leaves) will swell, that’s the time to prune back to two leaf buds on every branch. It’s also the time to repot. After that let the first flush harden and prune back again. Then leave it to get flowers the next year or prune again later in the season if you don’t care for the flowers.

However when my flowers finally bloomed but the trees also put out leafbuds which opened simultaneous with the flowers. I asked around and then repotted without to much work on the roots and they have stayed healthy so far. The flowers are now gone and there’s a bunch of nice leafs.

There’s a problem though. It looks like most of the leafs and their buds are located pretty far out on each branch (see the pictures). This makes it hard to cut back very far to get a nice ramification. So I’m wondering when should I prune back to the inner most leafs (however far out they may be) and what should I do about the long straight branches with mostly buds on the tips? It won’t be a very pretty tree if I can’t cut it back further back.

All the advice and help I can get is very appreciated! Thank you :pray:t4:



Greetings from Berlin,

Did you ever get an aswer to this?

I am interested in all things with P. mume and have several myself. the budding at the terminal ends is a problem, as is there in ability to bud back (or rarley budding back).

here is what I know:

I find cutting back on two to 3 leafs when the braches grow purple works well for me and I get a second flush. (In berlin this is late June)

Never cut after June as I have found this is when the buds develope at the terminal ends (would like to here from others on this as well).

Read in a Japanese publication to cut back to 5 or 6 leaves beginning of June. this seems to help me in keeping branches shorter.

in the same publication I read it is possible to remover the first 2-4 leaves in a shoot in june and then leave 5-6 leaves on the end of the shoot. the tree will then bud back inside on the place where you removed the leaves and form flowers only on the tips. This has never worked for me and would like to hear if it works for anyone else.

I have a number of Ume hand have joined this site to learn more about them.

How are you getting along?


I no longer have ume… but in most Japanese publications I’ve read the mantra to keep short branches or to make shohin seems to be “become a proficient grafter” as it’s the most reliable method.

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@Ume . I was wondering how this worked out for you, too.
My ume are gone… vole problems… Was wondering if they were worth pursuing as medium bonsai?

Hey thanks for replying! :smiley: I didn’t really get an answer. However I talked to Mr Peter Warren at last years taikanten (where i bought two more ume) and he told me to do the technique where you remove the first leafs on the new branch and leave the outer ones like you mention. I . didnt dare to go all in on that but ill try it next year. What I did before i knew that was to cut back after it hardened. I cut back to a single leaf as far down on the branch as i could, this resulted in some back budding. I even got back budding on old wood on the trunk!

@Michael_P Yes ive heard this as well. eventually one might have to get grafting. But I think its much harder to get back budds on reall old umes. The ones i have are young and ive even gotten back budding on old wood. But as the tree gets older its going to get harder im sure.

@KurtP well ive still got my four ume, two medium sized and two shohin. But its not easy. they are super brittle and branches keep snapping as soon as im not fully focused. I will probably not get more umes until ive seen more haelth and vigour and learned more about how to get tight budding at the base of shoots. But man are they pretty when flowering.

Ok this last picture isnt my ume but its one of the most beautiful bonsai trees ive seen. Ever.


I just got a lot of answers from Live Q+A 104 at 45min!


Those ARE awesome bonsai!
I will have to peruse the QA…

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Thank you ^^ check that out, it made a lot of sense.

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Hey, I have a few scaned articles on trimming P. mume…they are in German but some of the illustrations may help. They are in pdf whichg the site does not apear to support. …will see if I can convert thme to Jpeg somehow…

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Oh thats great, I dont speak german but I like pictures :wink: any info on the subject is welcome!

Hello @Ume, are you still in search of information regarding Prunus Mume? I have 2 myself which I am now cultivating based on information read in a "France Bonsai " magazine: it is a special issue dedicated to mume and also “Prunus Malhaleb”, also called Sainte Lucie, native from the South of France and which are cultivated like Mume. In that issue, the authors are following the evolutions of tree cultivated by a known master of Mume in Japan, Mr IIjima (2 generations cultivating only Mume, in the ground which seems to be quite difficult). In that issue, they describe how, over 4 years, we have to cultivate and prune (very special) Mume so that branches do not die, which is the particularity and challenge with that species: if we do not renew branches when they have bloomed, the branch will die the following year. Let me know, cheers,

Hi Ume,

I don’t have a Mume (or any kind of Prunus) myself and I don’t know if this is actually what has been shared with you by @dday830. But I’ve read in a German forum about this technique that people apply to their Mume that allegedly produces good and steady back-budding on their trees: By the time new shoots have hardened off (and grown out a bit, like between spring and summer) you break them above the second or third leaf. But you don’t break the shoot off completely, you just sort of leave the broken end dangling on the remaining stump. Don’t know if that makes sense, it’s kind of hard for me to describe this in English. So the upper portion of the shoot, now hanging loose off of the untouched lower part of it, is still alive and will die off eventually. Only then will you remove those and until then the trees will look somewhat broken and shabby, but they say it works very well…

Also, I’ve seen gardeners apply the technique where you defoliate a branch and only leave leaves (and twigs) at the tip of each branch to cherry trees around our local botanical garden and it has worked very well for those in terms of rejuvenating the trees and push the energy and growth back towards the interior.

Hope this helps…

Dear all,

Here is an illustration of work on P. mume (sorry German) which illustrates the technique mentioned by @Obi

the “Knick trick” does work well, I have used it to get movemnen in braches in developing trees.

I need to note that the ilustrated techniques are more ment for develped trees however to get more flowers.

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hello @Diabolo which issue of France Bonsai is the Prunus mume one you mention? I would like to see if I can get a copy on ebay for myself.

I have P. malhaleb. they do not grow like P.mume. Take care not to use the same techniques from one to the other.

They grow faster than Trident Maples on steroids and bud almost anywhere including on the Trunk. I get about 4 flushes on a year on mine which I have been working on for two years. developed an entire 1cm thick branch from a bud in a year and a half.

Only quirk I have noted is they do not like to bud back on dorment buds when you defoliate mid summer…I have failed at this twice so I do not cut back to a dorment but until see growth on it in early spring.

I poted the first time since collecting this spring for the first time in a slightly larget pot than it needed. second photo is from spring this year.

Below is the same tree in container two years ago still in container…:


dear @dday830, thank you very much for the sharing and the good advise. Below is the France bonsai release I was referring too (#123). Let me know if I can do something else. I will share with the community the evolution of my own mume.

Thank you all for the input! Super nice article, I wish i could read it too :stuck_out_tongue: Im in japan now and going to Taikanten on friday and saturday, I hope to see some stunning ume!

I will see if i try the broken branch next season. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the info @dday830 :+1: love that prunus

@ume Let me know how it works for you…I get really strong winds here in the summer at times, I usually lay some wire on the brance before I break it. Keeps the wind from finishing the job :frowning:

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Ok thanks! I’ll let you know

My Mahleb is in bloom