Bonsai Technique

By Ruth Morgan

If you want to grow your own bonsai tree you will need to learn about bonsai technique. To create a miniature ‘tree in a pot’ here are some of the bonsai techniques that will be required.

Wiring a bonsai tree

The bonsai tree will need to be shaped and that is usually achieved by a combination of wiring and pruning.

Wiring allows trunks and branches to be bent so that their position can be changed. Branches are often bent downwards to give an impression of age. Once the branches are set the wire is removed.

There are two types of wire that are suitable for bonsai – annealed copper and anodised aluminium. The copper wire is harder and more powerful than aluminium wire. Beginners are advised to start with aluminium as it is easier to work with.

The wire should be applied at an angle of 45o so that it is spaced evenly along the branch and it should be anchored e.g. on the trunk or by wiring two branches together.

The length of time required for branches to set will vary, with conifers requiring longer than deciduous trees. Once wired the tree should be checked regularly to prevent the wire cutting into the bark and damaging it.

Pruning is also an important bonsai technique and can be used to create the initial shape of the bonsai tree. Sharp tools are essential for this and the wounds should be sealed to help the healing process.

Pruning will cause the trunk to thicken which is important to create the effect of age.

Having established the initial shape, the bonsai tree will require regular pruning to maintain its form.

During the growing season new shoots will grow out from the buds. These shoots will require pruning. As a general rule, prune back to 1 or 2 pairs of new leaves when 6 or 8 new leaves have been formed.

With evergreens use your fingers to hold the foliage and then pinch out the new growth. If you use scissors the tips will turn brown.

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