Some of the final steps when repotting bonsai are among the most important – especially when it comes to wiring trees into the pot. I typically wire trees into the pot after setting the tree, but when repotting partially or completely bare-rooted trees, I first work some soil into the exposed roots. If no soil is around to hold these roots in place, tightening wires can scrunch roots together, collapsing the rootball and making it difficult to secure the tree firmly in the pot. As I bare-rooted about a third of the roots of the tsukumo cypress below, I filled in the areas between the open roots and around the rootball before starting with the wire.
After adding enough soil to facilitate wiring the tree into the pot
There are several approaches to wiring bonsai into pots, each with their good points depending upon the application. For this tree, I used my default approach for posts with four holes. Taking hold of the front left wire, I brought it to the point where the front right wire emerged from the soil.
Bringing the wire across the front of the rootball
Where the wires meet I twist them together by hand. If I want to make sure the wire is particularly snug at this point, I use pliers.
Grabbing the wire with pliers
If there is a single take-away from this post, let it be this: pull, then twist. If you have ever repotted bonsai with Boon Manakitivipart, you’ve doubtless heard this phrase. The idea is that when tightening wires, first pull the wires tight, then slightly release the tension while twisting. Simply twisting soft wire like aluminum is an easy way to break it. The alternative: pull, then twist.
1. Pull wires away from rootball
2. Lower pliers while twisting
The pull, then twist, approach may be repeated until the wire is snug. After securing the first three wires, you may notice you have nowhere to attach the final wire.
Where does this one go?
Sometimes I plan ahead by preparing a short section of wire with a loop that I can fit around the first wire.
Short wire with loop
As I didn’t prepare this bit ahead of time, I can do it after the fact with a short, hooked section of wire.
I hook this wire under the base of the first wire and then twist it back onto itself.
Hooking the base of the first wire
After securing the wire with a twist
Adding this tail let’s me connect the first wire with the final wire. For this final connection, I always use pliers to ensure the tree is well-secured to the pot.
The last connection
Tightening this last connection ensures the wire is tight across the entire rootball. Once the wire is snug, I remove any excess strands and fill the rest of the pot with soil.
After adding the soil
Two more quick steps – more on that Friday – and then it’s time to water.