I have an Operculicarya decaryi. I got it about half a foot long, and now it has grown quite a bit.
It seems reasonably healthy and not in danger of dying, though I don't know much about these trees and can't say if this counts as prime health. It is about 2.5 ft long and 1.5 ft high. I like the plant but I'd like to improve its appearance. My issues are:
- Branches are too long and wild, looks like a bramble and not a tree.
- Leaves are too spaced out, looks "unhealthy" like a desert tree in a barren environment, not like a thriving plant pampered with active care.
- Trunk (as well as branches) curving in strange spiral way, makes the tree look crooked and unstable.
- The bulb looks too small.
I'd like to make it more compact and bushy by trimming and pruning. Ideally I'd like a lush, bushy, nicely rounded appearance like these:
Although alternatively, a more "stylized" look like these would also be fine (if it is easier):
I have no bonsai experience - I realize that the pictures I posted are probably the result of years of work and extensive skill. However, even small improvement would satisfy me. In particular, I would really like to improve leaf density (if even a little) and make the leaves more evenly distributed with less long, naked branches everywhere.
Are there any simple principles I can follow when pruning to slowly move in the direction of my goal? How frequently should I prune? Should I start cutting only the tips of undesired branches and slowly work my way in, or just cut the branch at the trunk? How do I encourage leaf growth in the middle of a long, bare branch? How do I avoid pruning too much and stressing the plant? Should I plant in a bigger pot to encourage more robust leaf growth?
EDIT: After looking at this question about bonsai styles, I think I probably want either a moyogi or chokkan (whichever is easier), hokidachi or kabudachi style. I definitely don't want any slant, windswept or cascade appearance, and more complicated styles like incorporating rocks or sharimiki would probably be beyond my ability.