Wiring bonsai trees can help you achieve incredible results once the recovery process is over. Undoubtedly, the wiring is one of the very groundings of the different bonsai trees training techniques.
But how to use aluminum bonsai wire with best results? Certainly, there are important do’s and don’ts to wiring your bonsais with aluminum, just like there are pros and cons to this particular material.
In this article, we will list the most valuable pieces of information that will help you become an aluminum wire bonsai master minus the fuss.
Pros and Cons of Aluminum Wire for Bonsai Trees
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To start with, aluminum wire leaves less scarring on the miniature trees as compared with copper wire.
That’s because aluminum is generally softer than copper. Not only does this make aluminum wire easier to use but it can also be re-used, unlike copper that may harden and become non-re-usable.
Keep in mind that aluminum wire must be properly anodized.
Anodizing refers to a process which is electrochemical. It is through this electrochemical process that the thickness of the upper, natural oxide layer of aluminum can be increased. This helps to convert the metal surface into becoming more durable and corrosion-resistant.
In fact, Apple products are manufactured with the use of anodized aluminum, as explained by Bill Hammock who is a part of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois.
Video by: engineerguy – Anodizing (Or the beauty of corrosion)
If not properly anodized, aluminum wire can even become toxic to some types of trees.
On the downside, aluminum has low holding power. That means you are likely to need a heavier gauge than with copper wire.
Meanwhile, if exposed to direct sunlight, anodized aluminum tends to become colored in the typical aluminum silver nuance which is too bright, and hence, unappealing to some bonsai enthusiasts.
Using Aluminum Bonsai Wire 101
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Selecting the type of bonsai wire that suits your level of experience, as well as personal preferences, is a highly individual choice – there are no wrong or right moves.
However, when it comes to understanding how to use aluminum bonsai wire, there are milestones you need to be aware of and act accordingly.
1) The right time to wire your bonsai
Wiring can be done all year-round, at least when it comes to most bonsai tree species.
However, wiring in early spring or late winter is often highly recommended by most bonsai experts. For deciduous plants, late winter wiring is your wisest move.
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The late winter to early spring period can be especially suitable for wiring because of the fact spring is when bonsai trees enter their active growth cycle.
With this in mind, it is important to be careful when wiring during this period since the soft bark and the tender branches will be easier to damage. Wiring must not cut into the tree.
Wiring can be done in the summer season, too. However, foliage will most probably get into your way. Summer is when the cambium is abundant in sap. Because of this, drastic bends can easily lead to separation of the bark. On the bright side, smaller branches are usually hardened during the summer, making them easier to wire.
Autumn wiring is not advisable. This is the time when your miniature trees start to set for next year’s foliage so it is best not to disturb the new buds-to-be.
The winter season and wiring go hand in hand. This is the time when you can leave wiring on for longer while minimizing the risk of ugly scarring. Be careful with smaller branches, though, as they tend to become more brittle during this time of the year. Also, make sure not to knock off any of the future buds by accident.
Video by: What a Plant – Making Dwarf Jade Bonsai (Formal Upright Style) | Repotting | Pruning | Wiring
2) The right size of aluminum bonsai wire
It might be confusing to come across the wire that vary from as little as 1 millimeters in size to 6 millimeters. Well, it might be surprising to find out that there are no strict rules in picking the “right” size of wire – it depends on the goals you want to achieve.
However, keep in mind that it is best to go for the aluminum wire that is at least 1/3 of the thickness of the section you are about to bend/reposition through the wiring training technique. For drastic bends, opting for multiple wires is recommended.
3) Double wiring VS Single wiring
Whether you will prefer to apply double wiring or single wiring is merely a matter of personal choice.
Double wiring refers to wiring two branches that possess a similar thickness. These branches must be located close to each other as to be wired with a single piece of wire (where and if applicable).
Single wiring refers to wiring all the remaining branches individually.
As a rule of thumb, you need to wire all the branches that you are planning to shape prior to getting down to the actual process of wiring.
If you intend to wire the whole tree, start from the trunk and proceed to the primary branches. Finally, wire the secondary branches.
Best of all, do not rush. Plan your moves, do some extra research, take a deep breath, and let your tree “speak” to you – you are not causing real damage to your tree by wiring it properly; it’s merely a training technique that you apply, so it is worth enjoying it.
When making your way into the art of bonsai, understanding how to use aluminum bonsai wire is one of the basic skills that can help you become better in training your miniature trees. Before you even know it, your bonsais can turn into stunning masterpieces, nurtured by your love, care, attention, and ability to embrace the wisdom and beauty of the continual learning process.