How to wire Bonsai Trees

Bonsai trees are often created and refined through the application of wire to the trunk and branches. Wiring bonsai trees speeds up the development of your bonsai trees by changing the angle and positioning of the tree so that you do not need to wait or rely on the tree growing in a particular place or direction. Bonsai wiring is a core skill for many bonsai growers. The information on this page will help show you how to wire bonsai trees.

What wire do we use?

Bonsai wire needs to be strong enough to bend the branches/trunk but supple enough for you to apply without damaging the tree. Therefore we don’t use steel wire, which is too hard and also rusts. We tend to use annealed aluminium which has been coated in copper, for the colour. We also sometimes use annealed copper wire, which is stronger but considerably more expensive.

How long do we leave the wire on for?

You need to leave the wire on the tree for long enough to allow the bends that you have made to set in place. Put simply, if you take the wire off too soon, then the tree will just bounce back into its original shape. Conversely, if you leave the wire on for too long, then the wire will start to bite into the tree as the tree thickens up, which will scar or mark it.

The amount of time that we leave the wire on varies for a few reasons:

  • Slower-growing trees take longer. Pines and Junipers can take one to two years to set.
  • Deciduous trees tend to set more quickly. Perhaps in a few months.
  • Bigger bends tend to set more quickly than minor alterations. This is because when you bend the tree, you are damaging the cells of the tree. The action of a tree recovering from this damage causes the tree to set more quickly. Minor bends cause less damage, so take longer to set.
  • The time of year that you apply the wire is also a factor. Think about the rings of a tree for a moment. The rings are a period of active growth within the tree – The production of new wood. It is the new wood that helps set the new position of the bent branches. It follows therefore that the tree needs a period of active growth in order for the wood to be produced in the new position of the branches.

Have a look at our other articles

We’ve written a number of other articles on bonsai tree care and are working on bonsai tree species guides.

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