How to Wire Bind Bonsai Trees
Wire binding a bonsai tree is a key part of shaping and manipulating it to your desired design. When allowed to grow without wire binding, bonsai often lack the stunning appearance of an aged or otherwise unique-looking tree. While binding may seem intimidating, mastering it gives you much more control over your tree. The process involves wrapping wire around the bonsai’s trunk and bending it to your desired shape. This deliberately damages the tree’s structure, forcing it to heal and reform to its new position. For example, bending the trunk can give the appearance that the tree was struck by lightning. Once the tree has healed, remove the bindings and the bonsai will maintain its form.
Select the correct gauge of bonsai wire based on the force required to hold your tree in its new form. If you are unsure, purchase several gauges of bonsai wire to experiment with. If you plan to bind the entire tree, most of the several different gauges will be necessary. If not, you can save them for future bonsai projects.
Cut a section of wire 50% longer than the section of the tree you wish to bind. Wrap the end of the wire to a sturdy anchor point on the tree. If you are binding the trunk, simply start at the base. If you are binding a branch, start on the trunk, wrapping the wire at a 45-degree angle around the trunk just below the branch you are going to bind. Wrap the wire tightly enough so it stays in place, but not so tightly that you cannot move it. Wrapping the wire too tightly will cut into the trunk and create lasting damage from which the tree might not recover.
Wrap the wire in a spiral pattern around the area of the tree you wish to bind. The coils of the spiral should be close together to ensure the binding holds the correct shape. Ensure the wire does not pin any leaves or thin branches to the trunk, as this can cause infection. Continue wrapping the wire around the section until you reach the tip.
Hook the wire at the tip of the branch or trunk in a sharp — 90-degree — angle to ensure it holds securely. Cut any excess wire, being careful not to damage the tree. Any additional damage, other than the binding process, might slow healing or kill the tree.
Bend the wire binding gently to form the branch or trunk into your desired shape. Take care not to force the bend so far that it breaks the tree or its bark. Once the tree has bent to your desired shape, repeat the process with any other areas of the bonsai you wish to bind. You might need to select a different gauge of wire for each area. The wires must be strong enough to hold the tree in place, but not so heavy that they weigh the sections down.
Allow the tree to heal for 6 to 12 months before removing the wire. Keep close watch on the tree, if any area begins to grow around the binding, remove the wire immediately to prevent marks. Use wire cutters to carefully snip the bindings at each coil and gently pull them off of the bonsai.
You can find bonsai wireat most specialty bonsai shops and nurseries, as well as here on amazon. If you do not have access to a bonsai shop and do not wish to purchase over the internet, you can buy aluminum wire from your local hardware store.
Never use iron or steel wire, as they are poisonous to certain species of trees.