WINTER CARE: WIRING. (January, 2010)

Winter is a good time to catch up on wiring. Practice your wiring technique regularly. Good wiring is effective and beautiful to look at. Try to use the minimum amount of wire to do the maximum amount of work. If a branch springs back after bending it, the wire is too small for the job. Remove this wire and apply a new piece of wire larger than the one you used before. If this does not work, redo it again. Remember, 2 pieces of small wire DO NOT do the same work of one larger wire.

When bending wired branches, ensure that the wire supports the back side of the bend. Bending at unsupported locations widens the gap between the wire and the branch and increases the chance of broken branches. If you do not correct your mistakes, your work will not progress. Learn to enjoy wiring and have a good time doing it.

Even spirals and even spacing between branch and wire make the job neat and beautiful. 45 degrees is the typical angle for applying wire, but this angle can be elongated to 30 degrees. In this range, the wire has the most holding power and is most pleasing to look at. It has been said the best space between the wire and the branch is just enough to allow a piece of rice paper to slide through. Loose wiring does not offer good holding power and it does not look good. Tight wiring will cause wire marks on branches in a short time. The skill required to make proper determinations will come with experience.

Wire needs to be anchored well. It needs a good anchor at the point where you start either at the fork or at the base of the main branch. The most common mistake that I see is that the wire is lose at the starting point.

Do not cross wires. Crossing wires causes more pressure when you bend the branch and it makes the branch look bigger than it really is. It is also difficult to unwire, so correct any mistakes right away. It will become a bad habit if you keep saying to yourself, "It's okay for now," or, "I'll correct it next time."

Be sure to protect bonsai that has recently been wired or repotted. Keep these trees above 40º F and away from excessive cold and wind.

Do not spray lime sulfur on spruce, hemlock, azalea and tropical trees and also the tree that you have just wired or the tree that has just been repotted. It can burn them.