Several bonsai styling methods are used by bonsai masters to achieve their vision. These methods alter and enhance the appearance of the bonsai. As a bonsai enthusiast, these methods will be your tools to transform your bonsai tree into a work of art. In this article, we will look at the different bonsai styling methods that you can use.
Pruning and Trimming
The pruning and trimming of leaves and branches are mandatory styling methods to help a bonsai tree thrive when being grown in a container. This entails removing leaves and branches to stimulate growth in certain portions of your bonsai, or to prevent unruly and uncontrolled growth that can ruin the basic shape or form that you want for your bonsai.
When employing these methods, great care should be taken. Keep in mind that branches and leaves serve to create and transport the food that the tree needs in order to survive. When there is too little leaves and too few branches, it can impair the trees ability to nourish itself, which can arrest the tree’s growth, or in worse cases, can cause the tree’s demise.
Defoliation is a technique that is used to stimulate the bonsai tree to produce smaller leaves. This method is suitable to deciduous trees like maples and should only be done on healthy and well established trees.
In this method, all or most of the leaves of a tree are clipped away halfway through the growing season. The leaves are cut along its petiole, leaving the petiole behind. When these petioles become dry, they fall to the ground, leaving the tree free to produce a second wave of new leaves. These leaves are smaller compared to the first wave of leaves, often half the size of the original leaf. This effect is temporary, because come Spring, leaves that are produced defer to the original size.
These smaller leaves are prized for aesthetic reasons, because smaller leaves enhance the miniaturization that the tree has underwent. This process however substantially weaken the trees. Therefore, the use of this technique is not recommended to be applied consecutively or often to bonsai trees.
Wiring and Clamping
Wiring and clamping are techniques that are used to force the tree trunks and branches to grow a certain way. In wiring, copper or aluminum wires are wound around young shoots to gently coax it to the placement desired by the bonsai master. The wires keep them in place until they harden and adopt the placement permanently.
For thicker branches and trunks, clamping is the method used. A clamp is placed on the trunk, which is gradually tightened to alter the form of the bonsai slowly until the desired form is achieved.
In some cases, a bonsai master might want to introduce a branch or a new growth in an area of the bonsai that is not feasible naturally. To solve this problem, grafting is a method that you can use. In grafting, a new and live branch or bud is encouraged to fuse to the bonsai tree. Grafting can be done on the branches, buds, and even on the roots of the bonsai.
Deadwood is a technique that is used to enhance the age and appearance of austerity of a bonsai tree. It’s often used to add drama and poignancy to the form of the bonsai tree. Different parts of the bonsai can be subject to this technique, depending on the aim and vision of the bonsai master. To achieve this technique, a bonsai tree is purposely injured or scarred. In some cases, a bonsai master may also choose to create a composite of deadwood material and the live bonsai tree. This creates a memorable image of a trees struggle to survive despite natural adversaries.