The wiring of Bonsai is artistic. Read on to find out how to use Bonsai wire to sculpt and shape your tree!
For some, the wiring of Bonsai using Bonsai wire is considered to be an art form. For others, wiring is a chore; a necessary evil and a means to an end.
The use of Bonsai wire is necessary for your tree's shape, and is the main way to sculpt your tree into a work of art.
For those who have never heard this term, you might be asking “what is this wiring business?”
Luckily for you, we have the answer!
Wiring is an objective process aimed at changing the overall shape of the tree you are growing. This process will change the shape of the trunk, branches and new shoots to manipulate the tree into your overall vision.
The main objective is to manipulate the tree with MINIMUM IMPACT to the tree's health, and to minimise wire marks and unnecessary gouges.
Wiring is basically a process whereby wiring tree branches from the trunk upwards and out leaves splits and tiny fractures in areas of pressure underneath the bark. Much like muscle growth in humans, as the damaged layers are repaired, the desired positions are learnt by the branches and they grow to your specifications.
The whole process can take up to months for a tree to learn, but often, in the right season, positions through wiring can be achieved within a matter of weeks!!!
Wiring is probably the trickiest task for the Bonsai gardener, and it can be frustrating and time consuming. Try to think of wiring as a game of chess: you must THINK AHEAD!!!!
Lets look at Bonsai wire techniques in a step-by-step process…..
Know what you want to achieve by setting wires on your tree. Refer to your goals and assess what parts of the tree you will need to wire to manipulate it’s shape. Remember: we are not trying to manipulate it’s shape instantly, you have to think ahead of how your anchor points will affect it’s future shape.
Decide what type of Bonsai wire you will use……….. As a rough rule of thumb:
• Thicker and heavier wire will result in less wire marks on the tree but makes the wiring of Bonsai harder and less forgiving. As a rule of thumb the Bonsai wire should be approx. 1/3 the thickness of the branch you are wiring. One tree can use up to 5 different thicknesses of wire.
• Thinner Wire is easier to apply to the tree and thus shapes are easier to manipulate, but leaves wire marks more readily than thick.
• Aluminium or Copper wire? Copper is stronger than aluminium and will hold much better, thus allowing you to use thinner wire. However, aluminium is more malleable and easier to manipulate; the trade-off is up to you!!!
TIP Never use Iron or Steel in the wiring of Bonsai…… These types of wire can react particularly with Juniper sap and can kill the tree (Blackrot)!
Choose your wiring time!!!! Again, Spring is a good season for it, given the healthy amounts of sap flow and growth tendency. When sap flow is slower, trees are less malleable and harder to manipulate. If you decide to wire your tree close to winter, expect your tree to suffer problems. During winter months and cold temperatures it is harder for your tree to repair damage, leaving it susceptible to the elements.
Step 4 - Wire your tree!!!!
A branch wire demonstrating Bonsai wire on 45 degree angles
So by now you are probably up to the actual stage of wiring!
Lets look at some different types of basic wiring you will most likely encounter on your Bonsai journey……
WIRING A TRUNK
1. Anchor one end of your wire into the soil, or through a hole (if there is one) on the side or lip of your pot.
2. Firstly wrap your Bonsai wire around the base of the tree tightly, using 45 DEGREE COILS!!!!!! (see photo) then continue up to the top, ensuring the wire is tight, but not too tight. It can be beneficial to use a double wire of thin gauge on a trunk.
WIRING BRANCHES – 2 Branch Principle
A tree demonstrating the 2 branch principle
1. Find a solid anchor point for the wire – other branches, the trunk, a ‘jin’ or the branch adjacent to the one you need to wire.
2. If an adjacent branch is used to anchor, this will be most effective – this is the 2 branch principle. One branch serves as an anchor point for the other.
3. Simply coil your wire from one branch across to the other. If the adjacent branch is further down or up the trunk than the one you need to wire, take a few turns around the trunk leading to the adjacent branch. REMEMBER ENSURE THE RIGHT TIGHTNESS and 45 DEGREE angles!!!!!
- Use the correct gauge wire for the job – remember 1/3 of the branch rule
- If necessary, wire the trunk first, and then the branches
- Work from the bottom of the tree upwards
- Two branch principle – one piece of wire for two opposing branches
- A double wire of small gauge is more effective than a single length of thick gauge
- Always wire at 45 degree angles
- Equal spacing between coils, too close or too far apart will harm your progress
- Wire tightly, but not too tightly. Test by bending the branch: if the wire bites into the bark your coils are too tight, if it grates the bark, your coils are too loose. The wire should hold the branch nicely if the coils are the right tightness
- To wire effectively, hold the branch with one hand and coil outwards
- As soon as the wire starts to bite into the bark (with growth), remove....
- Use wire cutters for copper wiring, or if the wiring has become too tight around the bark
- PRACTICE!!!!!! Practice your wiring skills on bamboo or plastic tubing. Experiment with aluminium or copper
Why not make things easier and buy wire here? Check out the range of wire below and click the picture to purchase!
Leave Bonsai Wire techniques and head back to Our 'How to' guide!