Tonight was all about wiring and Mark Kerry did a talk on the principles of wiring followed by one-to-one guidance on wiring specific club members’ trees to aid with their own wiring.

Why do we wire bonsai trees?

  • Refine the image of the tree
  • Get good branch placement, get branches in the right place
  • Control of branch development 
  • Can promote back budding
  • Evergreen trees are more often wired than deciduous 
  • Phased wiring at different stages depending on the stage of development of your bonsai 
  • Evergreens lend themselves to more manipulation/movement to look natural
  • Use of clip and grow more than wire for broadleaf / deciduous trees, keep the wiring to a minimum 

What wire to use?

  • Aluminium is usually coloured brown
  • Copper annealed heat treated and can use thinner gauge 
  • Do not use steel wire too stiff 

What thickness?

  • Aluminium 1/2 branch thickness 
  • Copper 1/3rd branch thickness 
  • Based on flexibility of the branch to bend or move depends on the wire thickness
  • Listen for cracks when bending and feel for movement 

When to wire?

  • When the tree is growing or coming into growth to set a branch 
  • Avoid spring due to bud formation
  • Sap is also strong in spring, with branches are more prone to snapping

When to take off? 

  • Before it digs in
  • Can be left on for weeks or months depending on the species
  • Preferable to cut rather than unwire, can cause more damage during the process if unwired but can then reuse the wire
  • Take off before it causes damage, especially on thin bark trees like Japanese maples
  • Can wrap wire with paper to reduce bitting in on thin bark species
  • Regularly check the main growing areas like the top of the trees
  • Weekly checks
  • Can de-wire in stages though as opposed to all at once 

How to wire?

  • Hold the main branch you are wiring and anchor it 
  • Do not trap needles
  • Remove old needles on pines and clean them out before wiring 
  • Clean out old brown foliage on junipers before wiring first 

Poor wiring habits

  • Too shallow an angle ideal is 45-degree angle 
  • Too close together causes restriction of cambium and phloem and xylem movement 
  • Avoid crossing wires as this affects circulation 
  • Using too thick so too hard to bend or too thin wire and branch goes back to the original placement
  • Crossing wire avoid and work on good wire placement and work out how to wire each branch first 
  • Some parts are too loose, others too tight 
  • The more you wire the better you get at it 
  • Need to set good anchor points of wire of each branch and use the main trunk as an anchor but avoid going straight from one branch to another without setting an anchor point for each branch independently 

Use thicker wire one or two turns on the branch before moving onto thinner gauge for branchlets or side branches U or Z shape

Other considerations 

  • Use of raffia or similar to protect branches to protect small cracks that form from losing moisture
  • Use vet wrap but avoid adhesive tapes as this can cause bark damage 
  • Try to cut off the wire to prevent bark or bud damage 

Best advice

Look at good wiring on a tree and analyse why it was wired that way

Practice, Practice, Practice and more Practice

Question responses 

  • Use of guy wires to position a branch but you won’t get movement in the branch 
  • Use of guy wires with a tourniquet to slowly move a branch by tightening over time
  • Setting the crown of the tree varies by each tree so need to assess the design and work out the image wanted 
  • Ie broadleaf or deciduous start with the main vertical leader and branches changes angles further down the crown 
  • Wiring direction doesn’t usually matter unless from vertical to horizontal so need to work out whether it loosens or tightens it 
  • Avoid pinch points at branch thickness of point of attachment, wire over rather than under at branch collars where cells thicken 
  • Other elements to consider would be the direction of wiring when bending branches to ensure wired in the correct direction

General workshop

Tree of the month had a good number of entries and there will be a follow up post shortly on the results.