Some notes on wiring I prepared for a recent presentation.

Left to right: too small, too heavy, just right:

With aluminum wire (use on deciduous trees and azaleas), use a wire that is 1/3-1/2 the diameter of the target branch.

Left to right: too tightly-coiled, too-loosely coiled, just right:

When wiring a branch, 60-degree angle is the generally accepted, correct wiring spacing. Too tight, and the holding power is reduced, wire is wasted, and scarring is increased. Too loose, and the holding power is reduced, and branches tend to break with the diminished support provided by the wire. Just right, and the bend should hold. Added considerations to proper wiring include planing the wiring route so wire will be on the outside of bends, opposite side of buds, and always routed to pass consistently under or above secondary branches…more on that shortly.

Two techniques, and how to use them together:

1. Wiring a single branch requires a couple coils below the bend to ensure the wire is anchored.

Notice how the wire passes under the secondary branches? Plan the route so the wire always passes on the same side of secondary branches to prevent crossing later.
2. Wiring two secondary branches; anchor at the junction and coil the wire outward as shown.


3. Now, connect the two. Heavy wire for the primary branch, properly wired so the wire passes under each of the secondary branches, and wiring the two secondary branches by applying a thinner wire above the heavier wire. This anchors the thinner wire, and provides a route to both of the thinner branches without crossing:

And on up to tertiary branches:


Look closely at this improper example. Subtle, but notice how the anchor wire passes under the first secondary, but above the next secondary:

Which forces us to cross it when wiring the secondaries:


Wiring is used to spread out branches, allowing each shoot to have a spot in the sun. It is also used to fill in bare spots, compact branches, add movement, interest, and a more refined appearance. Always wire to add movement from each angle; bonsai is a 3D sport! Here is an example, from above:


Same branch from the side:


Notice how the branch has been compacted by about half, movement was added, and the angles have been reduced to fairly accute? Notice how much more interesting and aged the branch now appears? That’s why we wire!

8 thoughts on “Wiring

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