Deadwood Bonsai Technique

Practical and aesthetic practices support the application of deadwood techniques. These old tree specimens are commonly found and collected. Dead wood can also be present on a bonsai due to pest infestation or branch die-back. It can also appear due to disease that the plant has encountered. The artist has the option to let dead wood stay on the plant or have it removed. However, removing the dead wood on the bonsai plant can harm the aged illusion it depicts. It can also damage the shape of the tree. That is why most bonsai enthusiasts leave the dead wood on the bonsai. Deadwood techniques are considered an optional aesthetic process. A bonsai artist who wishes to retain the dead wood must have it treated. This is to ensure that the coloration of the withered wood is preserved. It is also needed to stop insects and other pests from destroying the plant. Further, the dead wood must be shaped to compliment the aesthetic plan intended for the bonsai.

Deadwood plays an important role in the aesthetic process of growing a bonsai. Bonsai experts who know how to incorporate the right deadwood techniques can hide defects in the reared plant. This includes misplaced branches or an oversized section of the tree. It can also create the illusion that the plant is really old. Deadwood techniques can serve to disguise the trunk after having been reduced because it has grown too tall. The deadwood technique must be chosen to fit the bonsai species being grown. Nevertheless, these techniques can highlight the appearance of the plant.

What Are The Different Deadwood Techniques?

Deadwood techniques are applicable to specific plants. For instance, deadwood techniques work great with conifers and deciduous trees. This is because they shed dead branches and heal their own wounds. Other species retain dead limbs, and they naturally become withered and eroded. Some of these techniques can be applied to these species of trees. However, the driftwood style usually cannot be used with conifer species. Here are some deadwood techniques commonly used by bonsai experts.


This bonsai deadwood technique is commonly used on branches. It is also used at the top of the plant. This technique aims to show age and the tree’s ability to struggle and survive over time. It requires the complete removal of the bark from a given starting point. The remaining wood then dies. This will form the jin. Jin that is created from the top can produce a highly visible result. This is because the tapered bonsai undergoes a change in proportion that greatly affects the age illusion. The jin technique allows the artist to remove any unwanted branches. This increases the illusion of age as it has a bent over shape. The illusion is most likely to appear like a broken branch near the trunk.


This deadwood technique is applicable to broadleaf bonsais. These species often have falling dead branches that rot off the tree. A small hollow is formed from the indentation of the branch. This becomes an irregularly shaped wound in the trunk, and it is called uro. Bonsai experts often remove a branch from a deciduous tree to make an uro. This is done to prevent ugly scarring.

Shari And Driftwood Styles

A shari can be found in the main trunk of a bonsai plant. The small shari deadwood runs near the front or vertically on the trunk. It has little aesthetic value and is rarely viewed by bonsai enthusiasts. Shari are usually obscured by branch growth and surrounded by living bark. A shari is naturally caused by a failing branch or lightning damage. Trunk damage is another cause of shari. It can also be carved by the artist on the bark of the tree. The bonsai tree is considered to have driftwood style if the dead trunk is large and holds dead branches. Another term used for this is sharamiki. This is likened to a floating portion of a tree that is drifting near a beach. The dead wood must be carved according to the shape of the bonsai tree. It should appear like the remnants of a weather beaten tree. The driftwood technique does not follow the conventional style that most bonsai trees have.


This term means hollowed trunk or split trunk. This technique allows the bonsai tree to look as if lightning has struck its surface. It can also look like a badly damaged trunk that has withered for a long time. This technique is done by stripping the bark from the trunk of the bonsai. Then it is drilled or carved to expose the wood and produce a deep wound. The wound must not affect the flow of the nutrients into the tree or it will die. A preservative is needed after the shaping work is completed. This is to treat the exposed part of the wound.


This technique makes use of an interesting deadwood piece. It is used to create a composite driftwood style. The tanuki technique incorporates the form of a weathered tree trunk. It can also make use of the lower portion of the tree. A groove or channel is usually carved into the tree to add living material. A young juniper is commonly used because of its flexibility and vigor. These trees are also used because they can endure harsh shaping. These trees are commonly shaped using non-reactive nails. Bonsai experts also make use of screws and wire wrappings. This is done to allow the wood to grow on a deadwood channel. It even disguises itself as a separate entity. These trees can be cultivated once the screws, wires and nails are firmly placed. Bonsai techniques can be integrated to shape and nurture the tree.

Deadwood techniques should be incorporated into the bonsai plan. This will prove their effectiveness once the tree has matured. Visible signs and age illusions can be viewed in the rear of the bonsai. Bonsai growers can make use of manual tools such as graving chisels and blades for carving. Further, sanding aids and wire brushes are usually needed to remove tool marks.