Bonsai Wire
Bonsai For Beginners

I know you just opened the last newsletter from Bonsaiforbeginners but I have been stuck inside with the weather lately and found I had a little time to spare.

I had a visit from Dick Withers from the Summerland Bonsai Society in Australia this week. It was anything but summerland here when he arrived. In fact it was one of the coldest, wettest days of the winter so far. A power pole up the road had been struck by lightening and power had been cut to our area for most of the day, so I couldn’t even offer a hot coffee. Sorry Dick, next time you’re over give us a call and we can hopefully pick a better day.

Dick mentioned one of the most popular and often repeated topics at their club night was on wiring so that’s what this newsletter is about.

Bonsai Wiring

I have made up a photo demonstration of wiring, to save you the download time in your e-mail. It is not in the menu and is only available to you guys at this stage so you will have to follow the link at the bottom of this page to see it.

Wiring has become the fundamental method of shaping bonsai, there are other ways such as clip and grow, weights and clamps, but for convenience versatility and speed not much will compare.

There are two common forms of bonsai wire Aluminum and Copper both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Aluminum wire is brighter and more noticeable on your tree. It can be anodized to give it a brown less intrusive colour. Aluminum is very malleable and easy to use even for a novice. It is relatively inexpensive and can be reused, although I don’t recommend doing this. Untwisting wire is difficult and can easily damage your tree.

Copper wire is annealed by heat, this aligns the atoms and softens it. Once the wire is twisted onto your tree it hardens in place. This has the advantage of providing a much stronger hold with a thinner piece of wire. This solidifying process makes the wire very difficult to unwind so it should always be cut off. If you do wish to reanneal your wire it can be placed in a straw fire to heat it up again.

The wire is twisted up the trunk or along the branches, keeping each twist at a 45 degree angle. Always start at the trunk and work your way up and outwards from there. As a rough guide the wire should be about one third the thickness of the branch being manipulated. As mentioned earlier aluminum wire will need to be slightly thicker than the copper to hold an equivalent sized branch.

Keep the wire tight to the branch without cutting into the bark. Some people recommend withholding water from the tree to be wired for a period of time, this will help to harden the bark. While this may be useful it is not a requirement and who has time to plan that far ahead.

Wire damage on pine bark.
Make sure you remove the wire before it starts to cut into the bark

Once the wire is in place, use a smooth single movement to bend your tree to shape. Try to get a vision of the completed tree before you start, this should prevent the need to bend branches more than once.

The only way of telling how far you can bend a branch or how long the wire should remain on a tree is practice. If you are in doubt bend the branch in several stages over a period of time. Each variety of plant will have different tolerances and setting times. Older branches and conifers will take a lot longer than young or deciduous trees.

Keep an eye on you tree once wired, don’t let the wire cut into the bark. If it starts to get too tight remove it. If the branch springs back or still has not set to the correct position, rewire coiling up the branch in the opposite direction.

I tend to wire when ever I see a tree that would benefit from a little attention, as a rule you should not wire straight after repotting, don’t ask me why. I would imagine it could disturb newly developed roots and restrict the nutrient flow to the roots if you were a bit rough but I quite often wire a new tree before it goes into a pot and there have been no problems. Deciduous trees are best wired after they have lost their leaves simply because it is easier to see where you are going.

Before you rush out and wire up all your trees take a bit of time to practice. It is more difficult than it looks to do a neat job. Use a garden shrub or branch cut from a tree to get the hang of spacing and tension. You will also be better able to judge the lengths of wire you will require and the thickness of wire needed to bend a branch. If you are using Aluminum wire you can always straighten it out and reuse it. I followed a thread on one of the internet forum sites on wiring and it seems that a lot of people hold to the theory that if the branch sits where you want, it will do, while this may get the job done I think it is better to take some time with your wiring and do it properly. The wire is going to be on your tree for some time and both you and your guests are going to have to look at it. A tidy well applied piece of wire does not detract from a tree a great deal, while a sloppy application shows a lack of care and discipline that will show up in your tree and detract from your overall display.
Do it once and do it well.

We will wire up this tree in the photo demonstration follow the link below on the to go to the page.

Wiring Photo Demonstration

This is the link to the Photo demonstration page. Don't forget it is not on the site yet so you will have to use this link.
If the link above will not work copy this URL into your browser

Don't Forget
Coming Events

Model X June 3rd 4th and 5th
The Bonsai Society have a display at this event each year, it is held at the West Wave Centre, Alderman Drive, Henderson 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday 9am to 4pm Monday Adults $5.00 Children free

Auckland Bonsai Convention
Book tickets now.

Click here for more information