What is the Purpose Behind Bonsai Wiring?

  • By: Josh Koop
  • Date: August 24, 2021
  • Time to read: 6 min.

When you own a bonsai tree, there are several important techniques you may need to learn to take care of it. After successfully developing a system for basic pruning and repotting, you may have many questions about how to get started with shaping your bonsai. And that is where bonsai wires come in. If you are unsure about what is bonsai wire used for, I will answer all of your questions in this article.

In the art of Bonsai, wiring is an important technique that growers use to style and train a Bonsai tree. With this technique, you can control the movement of a Bonsai tree. You wrap wires around the branches to bend and reposition them to your liking. After the branches have set in their new position in a few months, you can remove the wire.

When your bonsai tree does not look as beautiful as those you have seen in pictures or movies, you may need to start wire training your tree.

Only when you start this practice will the true artistry of your Bonsai tree will start to show. So if you wish to know more about why wire training is so important and the proper process on how to do it, keep reading.

Why Is It Important to Wire Train Your Bonsai Tree?

Bonsai wiring is an important technique that you use to style, shape, and sculpt your Bonsai tree. Wire training is a necessary process if you wish to bring out the true artistic beauty of your Bonsai.

The main purpose you want to use wiring is to change and maintain the overall shape of the Bonsai tree.

You can shape the branches, trunks, and new shoots and grow them according to your desired growing pattern. But wire training is not important only for aesthetic purposes.

It is also a critical technique to achieve the successful development of your Bonsai.

How Is Bonsai Wiring Done? (Step By Step)

Wiring is a unique technique used in the art of Bonsai to maintain and refine the branch structure and main trunk of a tree. Wiring is no complex technique, but a bit tricky nonetheless.

So, I have included an easy step by step guide to help you wire your Bonsai tree with ease:

Step 1: Prepare your Tree

To start, prepare your tree so that the bending process will go smoothly. Let it dry out for about a day. This helps the trunk to be more flexible when bending.

Step 2: Plan Your Wiring

To bend the tree’s trunk, you need to plan the correct wire size. If you use a wire that’s too small, it can’t hold the trunk. The general rule of thumb is to go for a wire size about 1/3rd the thickness of the trunk.

Step 3: Establish a Base to Start Wiring

To establish a wire base, insert it directly at the base of the trunk 2-3 inches into the soil and at a 45-degree angle. Then coil the wire around the base of the trunk again at a tight 45 degrees.

Step 4: Start Applying Wire to the Trunk

Keep applying the wire at 45 degrees until you reach the end of the trunk. Stop wiring when you are almost near the apex. Cut off any excess wire.

Step 5: Bend the Trunk

Hold the trunk securely in your hands and bend it until you reach your desired position. It’s best to create tight bends closer to the apex so it won’t cause any damage.

Step 6: Wait for the Trunk to Set

Once you are finished with bending the tree trunk into your desired position, you will need to wait for about 3-4 months typically for it to set.

After the wire has been set, you can remove the wire. You may also need to remove it if you notice the wire starting to cut into the trunk.

Which Season Is Good for Wiring a Bonsai?

In theory, you will face no problems wiring most tree species any time you want.

However, I cannot disagree that there are certain times of the year that have special advantages and disadvantages for both the stylist and the Bonsai.

Let’s look at which season offers special advantages for wiring your Bonsai tree:

Spring

Spring may be the best time to wire your outdoor Bonsai. During this time of the year, the branch structure of your Bonsai is easily visible and the non-existent leaves won’t interrupt wrapping wires around the branches.

During April-May, the shoot growth is quite strong as well. So, any injuries to your tree from wiring will heal quickly and new shapes become solid quickly as well.

Summer

If you own a deciduous tree bonsai, summer will be the second-best season to wire it. Since the main growth is already over by this time, the wire can stay in for longer without growing in the branches.

At the same time, the tree will grow quickly enough to close up any wounds and hold onto the new shape. But barks may easily detach from the wood when you wrap the wire around the branches. So, you need to work extremely carefully.

Autumn

Early autumn is a really good time to wire your deciduous bonsai trees if you live in warmer areas. During this time, the vicious growing period comes to an end and most leaves either falls off or you can remove them yourself.

So the structure of all the branches will be easily visible and you can wrap the wires without much effort. Additionally, the wire can stay for a long time as well (until the growing season).

There’s also a lesser danger of breaking new, small buds when you are wiring the tree.

Winter

Typically, winter is the worst season to wire your Bonsai if you are somewhere with regular, heavy frost. It’s easy for your tree to get wounds when you wire or bend parts of the plant.

The outdoor Bonsai plants are in a resting phase during this time of the year and injuries heal little to not at all.

So if you wish to wire your plant during the winter season, place it somewhere bright and frost-free.

But if you live in warmer areas or are taking care of an indoor Bonsai in a greenhouse, you should face no problem wiring your Bonsai even in the winter.

How Long Do You Leave Wire on a Bonsai Tree?

There’s nothing set in stone as to how long wire should be left on branches. Typically, it takes at least a few months for the branches to set into the sculpted shape desired by the stylist. To achieve the best results from wiring, you should leave the wire on for at least one full growing season. For deciduous trees with thin bark, leave the wire on for about 6 months.

However, for fragile deciduous Bonsai trees, 3-4 months should be enough. If you are too anxious to make mistakes, you can remove the wire as soon as your desired results have been achieved.

It’s always best to remove the wiring before it starts to eat into the branches. Autumn is the best time to remove wiring from your Bonsai tree.

Conclusion

For beginners, most Bonsai cultivation techniques can sound tricky. So after finally developing a good pruning and repotting system, you may wonder what is bonsai wire used for?

In this article, I share why wiring is the most important technique to grow your Bonsai as a piece of art.

I hope now you understand the importance of wiring. Thank you for reading.

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Thanks for reading this article, I have a few items I love to use with my bonsai tree care and wanted to share the best options for the core needs for the new bonsai enthusiast!

Best Bonsai For a Beginner – Most of what you find online are starter plants where they are going to be difficult to start and grow successfully. Most beginners like to have a starter plant to work from. I highly suggest looking at Bonsai Boy directly (more options and good prices), or you can look at their inventory from Amazon.

Best Bonsai Tool SetTianBonsai makes the best quality tools for simple bonsai work, if you want tools that will last you they won’t come cheap, make the right investment the first time with these beginner tools on Amazon!

Best Bonsai PotBonsai Boy’s Beige Ceramic Bonsai Pot – The team at Bonsai Boy operates out of New York and has been perfecting bonsai in the US for over 50 years, there is a reason I love and share them, if you want to order directly from Bonsai Boy then click here, or click here to order through Amazon.

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