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Bonsai Traning

Here you can read on how to train your bonsai. With Wiring, stretching, ect. 
But remember not only are you growing a bonsai, but the bonsai is growing you.



Wiring Bonsai is an important method to form branches into the right position. By wrapping wires around the branches you are capable to form the branches in the desired position. Wiring a Bonsai should be done carefully, because damaged branches can easily die.

To wire branches variating in thickness different wires are being used, thin branches are wired with wire with a diameter of 1 or 2 mm. Thicker branches need to be wired with thicker wires, variating from 2 to 10 mm thick. Best is to use copperwires, which can be easily bended. Thicker branches are harder to bend, so very thick wires are necessary. In order to protect the tree from being damaged the branch can be wrapped in raffia, a grass type, so the wires can be wrapped over the raffia. Also trunks can be bended, see "The Trunk" for more information.

How to wire a tree:


1. Find two branches with the same thickness, there has to be a height-difference because the wire has to be wrapped around the trunk or large branch, before wiring the second branch with the wire, for firmness. The height-difference has to be 3 to 6 cm between the two branches. (See picture 1).

2. The wire which will be used has to be cut off at the right length, here fore keep it next to the branches to see how long it has to be. Because the wire also have to be wrapped at least one time around the trunk (or large branch) some extra length is necessary.

3. First wrap the wire at least one time around the trunk, before wiring the two branches.

4. Now the first branch can be wired, always wrap the wire at an angle of 45 degrees around the branches! This way the wire will not stop the nutrients-stream when the branch grows thicker. When you want to bend the branch downwards (see picture 1, blue arrow) the wire have to come from the bottom of the branch. When the branch have to be bended upwards (see picture 1, red arrow) the wire should come from above the branch.

5. You can start positioning the branches after wiring the whole tree. Younger branches can be bended easily, but older and thicker branches can break. So be very careful during the positioning!


1. Wrap the wire at least two times around the trunk or a large branch, with an angle of 45 degrees. (See picture 2).

2. Now wire the branch, again with an angle of 45 degrees. When you want to bend the branch downwards (see picture 1, blue arrow) the wire have to come from the bottom of the branch. When the branch have to be bended upwards (see picture 1, red arrow) the wire should come from above the branch.

3. Try to put the different wires next to each other when several branches have to be wired. (See picture 2).

(enkel) 2.

(dubbel) 1.


The Aftercare:

The tree doesn’t need any special attention after the wiring.
After about 6 months the wire needs to be removed, otherwise the nutrient-stream will be cut off by the wire (because the branches grow thicker, especially during the Spring and Summer). Monitor the tree carefully, and make sure the wires are being removed in time.



Stretching is a second method to bend branches. The wire is not wrapped around the branches, but vertically stretched. This method is safer for old or thick branches than wiring.

How to stretch a branch:

1. Cut off a small piece of a towel, this piece will be put between the branch and the wire to protect the branch from getting damaged.

2. Cut off a piece of cupperwire, and wrap the end of it a few times around the branch, with the piece of towel between them.

3. Now stretch the branch downwards and attach it to the pot, or to the trunk.

4. Don’t stretch the branch to far in one time, wait a month and than stretch the branch further.


    Jin & Shari:

Jin and Shari are two methods to make (especially pine)trees look older than they actually are. It is important to maintain the tree’s natural character.

Jin: baring and bleaching a branch

By removing the bark of a branch you can give a tree a “rougher” image, like it had to struggle to survive. The tree will also look older with a Jinned branch. Make sure the whole Jin lookes natural, which can be harder than it sounds. The summer season is the best time to Jin a branch.

   Step-by-step plan of creating Jin:

1. First choose the branch to Jin, it has to be thicker than a pencil.

2. Now remove the bark of the branch. Here fore use a sharp, and flat (Jin)knife. Make sure the Jin lookes natural, use a concave cutter to form the Jin. (See picture 1).

3. To fasten the bleach process you can treat him with Jin-fluid (available in Bonsai stores).


Shari: baring and bleaching a part of a trunk

By removing the bark from part of a trunk you can add a dramatic image to the tree and make the tree look older.  The bare part of the trunk should begin on the ground surface and should get smaller as it moves higher up the trunk.  Do not remove too much bark at once, or else the tree or part of it could die. The summer season is the best time to add a Shari to a tree.

   Step-by-step plan of creating Shari:

1. First choose the part of the trunk to remove. You can make this part white with chalk to see what it would look like, before actually removing the bark.

2. Make an incision with a sharp, flat knife. Now remove the bark by pulling it off, this way the natural look will remain.

3. After baring the trunk you can choose to slightly hollow the trunk with a concave cutter. Again, make sure the Shari lookes natural.

4. To fasten the bleach process you can treat the Shari with Jin-fluid (available in Bonsai stores).


    The trunk:

The trunk is a very important aspect of a Bonsai.
Notice the form of the trunk itself, the root-trunk, and the tapering of the trunk, (it must therefore be thicker at the bottom and must grow increasingly thinner with the height)

 1. The root-trunk:
The root-trunk are the visible roots, just above the ground surface. It is important that roots grow on every side of the tree, except for the front view.

2. Tapering:
A good tapering of the trunk is very important for the natural image of a tree. Make sure the trunk is thicker at the bottom and grows increasingly thinner with the height before buying it, because it’s hard to make changes in the trunk-thickness.

What to do with a to thin part of the trunk?
When a part of the trunk is clearly to thin, it is possible to boost the thickness-growth by using a special prune-method: Maintenance-prune the whole tree as you would do normally, but except for the branch(es) just above the to thin point of the trunk. This thin part will grow thicker as a result of a growing stream of nutrients to the branches which haven’t been maintenance-pruned.

What to do with a to thick part of the trunk?
When a part of the trunk is to thick, it’s harder to make it thinner. The only thing you can do is to only prune the branch(es) just above the part which is to thick, the remaining branches should be left unpruned until the trunk is right.

   3. The thickness:
Bonsai trees often look older than they are when they have a thick trunk. A trunk will only grow thicker when the whole tree grows: so best is to place the tree in a large container, so he can develop a good root-system, and to not prune him for at least a year. When you are satisfied with the thickness of the trunk, place it in a smaller pot and form it again.

   4. Trunk shape:
Old or thick trunks are very hard to bend, so it is important to form a tree before the point where he is to old, or to thick. When you do want to bend a thick trunk, or branch, you can use a trunk-bender. (See picture 1).


    Rock Planting:

Trees growing in rocks are very common in nature, especially pine trees live in rocky areas. Ofcourse Bonsai trees can also be planted in rocks, but since there is not much space to develop a root-system watering and fertilizing is very important.

First a suitable rock needs to be found. It’s important to find a rock with cracks and holes, so roots can grow in the rock. (See picture 1).

When you have found a suitable rock, trees have to be selected. Best is to let trees grow in a large container, before planting them in the rock, so they have long and healthy roots. Almost every type of tree can be used for Rock plantings, but especially pine trees are often used.

Use a groundmixture of 1/2 akadama and 1/2 garden mould.
The best time to make a rock planting is in the Spring season.

       Step-by-step plan for creating a Rock Bonsai:

1. First the rock needs to be prepared. Attach several wires with a strong, waterproof glue to the rock. With these wires the roots can be attached to the rock. (See picture 1). Instead of using cupper-wires you can also use a material which will fare (like cotton) before cutting of the nutrients stream from the roots (as a result of thickness-growth).

2. When the glue has dried, place the rock in a bucket of water for a few minutes.

3. Now place the selected trees on the rock, make sure the roots are well spread over the rock

4. Now attach the roots with the wire. Don’t wrap the wire to tight around the roots, as they can easily damage.

5. Cover the roots with the ground mixture, and put some moss over it to protect the ground for erosion and desiccation. Wait for at least a year before forming the trees.

6. The rock can be planted in a flat scale, filled with water or fine gravel.


         The aftercare:

Place the rock for at least a month in the shade, out of the wind. Keep the ground moist, but not wet. Fertilizing is important to provide the the tree with enough nutrients.

    Group planting:

Group-plantings are normally made up of an odd number of trees, to provide asymmetry. The trees should be planted randomly, it is important not to put all trees in one line.

Group-plantings can be placed in a shallow pot or on a slate. Shallow pots can be found at Bonsai shops, slates can be bought at stone sellers. It is important to create a good drainage, here fore carefully bore some holes in the slate.

For group-plantings both deciduous and pine trees can be used. It is also possible to combine these two type of trees in one group-planting. It is important that the trees are healthy, so a developed root system is necessary. Normally 5 till 15 trees are used, in odd-numbers.

The best time to create a group-planting is the spring season. Use the normal Bonsai ground-mixture (2 parts akadama - 1 part fine gravel - 1 part gardenmould)

         Step-by-step plan for creating a group-planting:

1. First the slate/pot have to be prepared, put some fine gravel on the bottom to create a good drainage. Put some of the ground mixture on the gravel.

2. Now the selected trees have to be formed: remove the death branches and the leaves or needles. Remove the lowest branches so the trunk will be visible.

3. Now take the trees out of there pots and remove the soil around the roots. The long roots must be pruned, the thick downwards growing roots have to be removed too. But do not remove to many roots.

5. Now place the “prepared trees” on the first layer of ground. (See picture 1).
The biggest tree have to be placed just outside the middle of the pot/slate, the other trees will be placed around this tree. When you are satisfied with the placing of the trees (See picture 2), the pot/slate have to be filled up with the ground mixture. (See picture 3).

6. Put some moss over the ground surface to protect the ground for erosion and desiccation. Wait for at least a year before forming the trees again.


         The aftercare:

Place the slate/pot for at least a month in the shade, out of the wind. Keep the ground moist, but not wet. The group-planting can be formed in the next spring.

Click here for a Bonsai pruning guide.

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