Hello everyone, this is my first post here. I have taken a sudden interest in the art of bonsai recently. So I had some juniper in the ground for about 5 years and decided to dig them up and prune them and start to train them. I brought some training pots from my local bonsai shop pruned the roots back a bit didn't touch the main rootball as didn't know it it would harm the tree too much but trimmed the other roots. Replanted it in bonsai soil and started to style the tree. I didn't have wire to hand so I had to strip electrical wire and use that, should be ok shouldn't it? I was reasonably happy with how they look. What do you guys think? Please bear in mind this is my first attempt and am very keen to learn. I'm sure in time I will progress!!! Is there any special thing I need to do now they have had such massive shock? Other than leaving them and letting them grow. Any help will be greatly appreciated and I look forward to you comments
Usually copper wire is used because it is easy to bend and it can be reused. If not aluminum wire can be used. It is a little harder to work and usually a lot of work to straighten.
When you cut a lot of roots and put a plant in a shallow pot it is easier to wire the plant in. If you have a pot with two drain holes run the wire from the bottom to the top and anchor the wires on top of the bonsai. Once the plant is settled in the pot you can remove the wire.
You would use wires of different gauges for different size branches ropes, wires and fishing weights are used to pull branches down. if you want to control a bend you wind the wire around the branch like a lose coil and then you can manipulate the wired branch easier into the desired shape and direction. Just make sure the wires are removed before they cut into the branch or they will leave scars in the bark.
I can get wires from Home Depot and Lowe's in coils. They come in different guages. The copper wires, I got from a bonsai club sale years ago and I have saved and reused the pieces. Good thing, since I would have to pay a lot more now for the wire I bought then. Electical wire is very light it, could be used as a guy wire or to hold the fishing weights but it is not strong enough to bend branches. Many of the newer wires are coated aluminum that are soft enough to bend easily and coated to reduce damage to the tree. You still need to remember to remove the wires in time. http://www.bonsaioutlet.com/bonsai-wire-and-shaping/
If you get concave cutters you can remove the nubs from the branches and it gives it a cleaner look.
For combing the roots, I don't use a hook. You can use the fork or even a pair of chopsticks if you get good at it.
It is also good to have a needle nose plier and a good wire cutter for bending and cutting wire.
You can use a paintbrush or an artist's brush for brushing off. I use a plain plastic turntable I get in housewares. It is good enough to work a small light bonsai. I just use a block of scrap wood to raise it. If you start working bigger plants then it would be a good time to invest in a steel turntable on a pedestal.
They do sell whole kits but for the beginner, wires, shears, concave cutters (They come in different sizes for different sized trees. Most small trees can use a small or medium concave cutters.) Needle nose plier, wire cutter, and repurposed fork were the most useful tools. A small sickle will work as a root fork but you do have to be careful. Fishing weights, rocks, cut pieces of rebar and even nuts and bolts are pressed into service as weights for branches. I prefer to use weights to bend branches instead of guy wires because I could easily break a branch pulling it too far and the weights will slowly bend the branch down and it looks more like a natural bend then whey it is contorted by wires and twisting. The weights work more or less the same way snow on branches would bend the limbs down and it gives a more natural look. One of the goals in bonsai is to recreate in miniature the look of age and natural stressors on the tree. Like lightening strikes and being windswept. Take a look at a tree in nature that you like the shape of and take a picture of it. When you create bonsai, it will be your guide for what you want to accomplish.
There should always be an apex (top). The branches should be in layers with the trunk seen between the layers. Cascades can be semi or full cascade. (Stop at the level of the soil in the pot, or fall below like a tree on the edge of a cliff struggling against the wind and gravity.
Nature rarely makes sharp turns, when branches naturally break off, they break and sometimes they take some bark with them but they don't leave nubs. When a tree top breaks, a new leader (or leaders) emerge. Over time the break which is usually jagged and pointy (not cleanly sawn off and flat at the top) weathers and gets (filed) down over time. The callus grows over it and it looks more rounded and more natural and not looking like it made a sharp turn.
If these were my newly dug trees, and I had taken them up out of season (March to May is when to dig trees). I would shelter them in at least afternoon shade in their training pots. I would do nothing more to them till it was time to repot in the spring of 2018.
There is no shortcut to training trees.
A full years rest to regrow new branches should be well back-budded by then. A second more profound top pruning can take place then. I would wire newer growth then.