Tag: Bonsai

Bonsai Wiring Demonstration

This is a photo demonstration page so I will try to keep the text down to a bare minimum. if you would like to read more about wiring have a look under make a bonsai – Potting and wiring
Heres the Link

re -Potting

Bonsai wire comes in a range of thicknesses which may vary from 6mm to 1mm. Both Aluminum and copper wire are commonly used. Aluminum is a good wire to start with as it is easy to apply and relatively inexpensive. The wire is annealed (heat treated) to soften it. The wire will harden once applied to your tree which will give it extra holding ability.

Common wiring mistakes

Wire too closely coiled and will restrict the flow of sap, which will kill the branch

The wire is too open, and will not have sufficient holding power.

The wire is too loose and will have no effect at all.

Correct angle and spacing…

Before you start on your prized bonsai get some practice on a garden shrub first. You can always reuse the wire, if it gets too hard heating in a fire will usually soften it again wait until it cools of course.
Test the twig for resistance then coil at a 45 degree angle up the branch. It should be tight enough to make contact with the bark all the way around, but no tighter. Bend the twig to see if the wire is strong enough to hold it. Before long you will be able to assess what thickness of wire to use for any given thickness of branch.

For demonstration purposes we will use this pine.

Pinus sylvestris var. mongolica

This tree has been pruned to shape with a new apex formed and all unnessersary branches removed. It has been in this training pot for six months now. If it was left as it is it would for a reasonable formal upright with time. The section between the two branches at the apex and the third branch down is too large and could only be remedied by removing the top. With wire we may be able to hide that defect.

Trunk Wiring

Start by judging whether the wire is thick enough to do the job required of it. You can use two pieces of wire wound along side each other if necessary. Cut a piece of wire about one third longer than the trunk. Anchor the wire by pushing one end into the soil at the base of the trunk, right to the bottom if using only a shallow dish. With one hand, hold the wire firmly to the base of the trunk. With the other hand, begin to coil the wire at a 45 degree angle. After each turn, move the hand that is keeping the wire taut upwards so it follows the spiral as it coils up the trunk.

If the trunk becomes too thin for the wire you’re using, change to a finer strand. Follow the thicker wire up the trunk for at least two turns before continuing to the top.

Bend the trunk with both hands, using your thumbs as fulcrums. Make the curves narrower towards the top. Remember, a tree is three-dimensional, so it should be equally bent backwards and fowards as well as from side to side.
Try to create any bends with a single smooth movement continual readjustment will damage the bark.

Notice how the finer wire at the top follows the thicker wire for at least two full turns to anchor it in place.

Wiring Primary Branches

You need to work out a strategy in advance. Wherever it is possible try to use one piece of wire for two branches. This will not work if the branches directly oppose one another. Remember work outwards from the trunk, keep it neat and don’t cross over wires.

The first photo shows our tree with the wire for the first primary branches locked in. The second photo gives you a clearer picture of how to lock two branches in. Make sure you have at least one twist around the truck before you start on the second branch. If this twist isn’t present you will get movement in the first branch when you try to adjust the second.
IF you can’t use two branches secure the wire by coiling it around the trunk with at least two turns.

Wiring Secondary Branches

With the primary branches in place move on to the secondary smaller branches. Much the same system is used for the secondary barnches as the primary. Always make sure your wire is secured by coiling it around another primary or secondary branch. What you don’t want is movement in the branch you have already set when you try to adjust the one opposite. Be careful if you are wiring soft growth, leave the wire a bit loose in these areas. Try to avoide needles or foliage as you move up the branch.

As you can see the tree now has some movement and foliage gaps are filled.
The length of time the wire must stay on the tree before the branch sets will vary from tree to tree and variety to variety. There is, however, one hazard that is best avoided. As the branch grows it will thicken and eventually begin to bite into the bark. This can happen in just a few weeks so be vigilant. As soon as you notice this starting cut the wire away.

Don’t try to save wire by uncoiling it. It will be much firmer when you remove it than it was when it went on. When I was first starting out I broke more branches trying to save 50 cents worth of wire than I did bending the branch in the first place. Cut each coil with a sharp pair of wire cutters and it will fall away in links.


Note: Originally posted here.

Repottig Bonsai

Repotting your Bonsai

Repotting is carried out to prevent your plant becoming root bound and starving to death. It helps maintain your tree in a small pot but does not reduce the size of your tree. Apart from watering, it is probably one of the most important and misunderstood processes in Bonsai

Early Spring is the best time to carry out this process.
Select the tree to be repotted. Prepare all the items you will require: Tools, soil, clean water, mesh, gravel or cover stones. These should be on hand as the process should be carried out as quickly as possible to prevent the roots drying out any more than is necessary

This tree has not been repotted for two years now and it is starting to yellow and loose vigor.

The root ball has become a solid mass and lifts from the pot with relative ease. If the lip of your pot cuts inwards you may have to run a knife around the edge. Remove any pieces of mesh that were not wired to the pot and have become embeded in the roots. You can see new healthy roots by the mesh on this plant that is a good sign and indicates an appropriate time for repotting. Take this opportunity to check for rot from wet areas or bugs, such as mealy bug which can infest the roots of a stressed plant. Rot could be a sign that the drainage of your pot is not right look for pockets where water may sit, or blocked or undersized holes.

Remove about one third of the root mass from around the outside and bottom of the ball. To do this you can use a root hook. If you have no hook you can use a fork with a tine bent at right angle to the handle to make a hook. If you think bending one of the forks might cause a little house hold strife a chopstick or pencil would do just as well.

Trim any damaged or excess roots with a sharp pair of scissors. Don’t use your good pruning scissors you will be cutting through dirt and the odd stone. Make sure all your tools are kept sharp and clean.

Take the opportunity to clean your pot remove any old soil and green colour from the outside.
Replace the mesh over the holes. It is a good idea to wire the mesh in as shown. This will prevent it moving when you replace the soil or as the roots grow around it. The mesh will prevent the soil falling out and the bugs climbing in.

Place a layer of soil in the bottom of your pot and reposition you plant. You can see from this picture how much root and soil has been removed.

Replace the removed soil with fresh bonsai soil. You may need to make sure the soil is down around the bottom edges of the pot, a chopstick is useful for this.

Replace the top stones these help retain moisture prevent weeds and look good too. Some of the stones on the top of trees from garden shops are glued or mixed with glue before they are placed, this is not good and is only done to stop people knocking them off in transit. If you come across this in a bonsai, remove them as soon as possible.

Trim your tree to remove any excess growth. Repotting is a good time to thin your plants foliage mass to help reduce the stress on the bonsai. Water thoroughly, if you can it is a good idea to immerse your tree in water, leave it there until the bubbles stop comming out of the soil. Take it out and place your plant in a sheltered position with a little shade for a few days.