One of the first topics those interested in bonsai should learn is how to wire a bonsai tree. Wiring is one of the techniques needed to style a bonsai tree. although there are other techniques such as the ‘Cut and Grow’ and styling using Guy wire. Styling a bonsai tree using the wire technique and guy wire is a common thing to see a professional bonsai artist in doing mostly while doing a public demonstration.
It is very important for a new comer in bonsai to train and master the wiring technique. A good application of wire around the trunk and branches is beneficial when bending and reposition the branches.
There are two types of material used to wire a bonsai tree:
- Annealed copper wire
- Anodised aluminium wire
Both copper and aluminium wire can be used without harming the bonsai tree
Wire of different thicknesses will be needed when styling bonsai trees. Sizes varies gradually from .5mm up to 8mm thickness. Since copper is stronger than aluminium, thinner wire need to be used on a branch when compared to aluminium wire. Professional bonsai artist use copper wire since it tends to blend well with a bonsai tree after application than aluminium wire. New comers can use anodised aluminium wire which is cheaper. It has a black anodised color so that it will look ugly on a bonsai tree.
Wiring for most species can be carried out all year round. One important tip is that on most of the deciduous trees wired is suggested to be carried out in late winter, since it will be much more easier when the tree is absent of it’s leaves. On the other hand, if wiring is done prior to the growing season, since during the growing season, branches will thicken quite faster, there is the possibility that the wire will cut into the bark, creating ugly scars onto the bark. Therefore check regularly and remove the wire before it bits into the bark. When wiring thick branches, it is recommended to first wrap raffia and then apply the wiring over. This will prevent scars on the bark.
Raffia is used to prevent damaging the bark
One needs to master the wiring technique before wiring expensive bonsai. Branches can die out due to bad wiring.
- The appropriate wire thickness should be used.
- The wire should be 1/3rd the thickness of the branch, thick enough to hold the branch in its shape
- The wire should be tight around a branches
- Hold the wire tightly to the branch with the thumb and first finger of one hand and twist the wire with the other hand
- Two branches should be wired with the same wire
- Anchoring the wire in the soil when wiring the main trunk
- The wire should be applied at a 45 degree angle
- The wire should not pass over foliage
- Great care should be given to new buds
- Start by anchoring a thick wire in the soil close to the trunk
- Twist around the trunk at an angle of 45 degree, and continue until you arrive at the apex
- Select the two branches that will be paired with the same wire
- Select the first branch with the third branch
- This way, the wire will be anchored with the trunk by having at least one turn
- Make sure to wire the whole branch
- Avoid wiring with a thick wire thin branches
- Use a thinner wire for secondary thiner branches
- Secondary branches should also be paired for wiring
- Avoid leaving space between wire and branch, branches might brake while bending
- Once wiring is finished bend and position the branches in place
- The wire should be in tension for better bending
- Bring wire from below when the branch needs to be bent downwards
- Bring the wire from above when the branch needs to be bent downwards
Bending the wired branches
- The first branch should be lowered to the soil
- In nature this happens with the wight of the snow in winter
- It is the oldest and largest branch, so heavier than others
- Both the first and second branches should be bent forward as if welcoming the viewer
- Bend the back branch in position to be partially viewed from the front side
- The technique for the upper branches that forms the apex
- The lower branches that forms the apex should be lowered downwards
- The middle branches that forms the apex should be straight
- The top branches that forms the apex should be bent upwards
Removing the wire
To remove the wire, never unwind it since the branches or new buds might be damaged. Cut the wire using an appropriate wire cutter.