Bonsai Tree - Shaping
Your Bonsai Tree
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Changing the shape of your tree
One of the great differences between pen tsai and bonsai tree
is the latter’s use of bonsai wiring as a common technique for changing
the shape of the tree (pen tsai relies heavily on the clip and
grow method, supplemented by hanging weights). Bonsai wiring
can do a great deal to change the shape of the plant, but it can also
do a great deal of damage to the plant if done incorrectly.
There are two kinds of bonsai wire commonly found in the hobby; copper
aluminum. Copper is usually something someone has made themselves (old
electric cable they’ve stripped coiled and heated red hot to soften.
It is much harder to bend than the aluminum but a smaller gauge is necessary
to hold the same branch. Often the folks who do copper are reluctant to
cut off the bonsai wire they have invested so much work in, but too many
heart rending branches lost have sent me forever to cutting off my aluminum
wire instead of trying to untwist a strand of copper I’d had a year
too long anyway. The copper is a good fit because it doesn’t let
you over force the branches as much as copper.
- Bonsai Wiring should not be done to a plant, or left on through the
peak growing season. Bonsai Wiring in fall or winter is best.
Apply by sticking the wire into the soil at the base of the trunk and
winding it up the tree to the first branch at a 45° angle. Wire the
length of the branch, always using your thumbs to press the length of
the wire gently but firmly onto the trunk or branch (using the end of
the wire as a handle and twisting it around the tree usually makes the
wire too tight on the branch and can cut off circulation) If the wire
is too loose there will be no holding power and the branch will return
to its original position. Twist the wire around the end of the branch
and remove the excess. Repeat for the back branch, then the right and
so on through the branches that need wiring.
Always use both thumbs on either side of a bend to distribute the strain.
Exercise extreme caution bending main branches, especially where it meets
the trunk of your tree.
- When bending a branch up, wire from under the branch. When bending
one down, come over and around the branch.
- Never leave a wired tree in full sun. Don’t expose a wired tree
to extremes of temperature (bring it in on a really cold night).
- Remove the wire as soon as you see it starting to cut into the tree;
remove it by cutting it off in small pieces as unwinding breaks branches.
For trees with softer bark, (serissas, cherries
etc.) wrap the wire in raffia (usually available where you get wire) or
paper tape so the wire won’t hurt the bark. As the conductive channels
can be damaged in wiring, keep a close eye on wired trees, branch by branch
so that you can unwire the appropriate branch at the first sign of trouble.
For bending thicker wood, lay another piece (or two) of wire along the
trunk or branch to be bent and then coil your wire over that in the normal
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This is interesting:
Many of them qualify for free shipping, too. They also carry some indoor
bonsai, which makes them a thoughtful gift, or for your home or office.
More Bonsai Articles
you should know about Tree Dormancy
Bonsai Care: Watering Requirements
Bonsai Pots and Soil
to Choose the Right Bonsai
to Prune a Bonsai
Care: Changing the shape of your tree
Photos of Bonsai