Branch development tips

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Branch development tips

Postby Beano » October 31st, 2017, 11:45 am

I finally have a tree or two that is ready for branch development. I have a lot of difficulty with branch styling that looks good. The general thing I see on bonsai trees is the branches are wired downward, resulting in a branch that upturns slightly after leaving the trunk then turns downward or flat towards the end of the branch. I find when I do this, the only tree it looks good on is the swamp cypress. The rest just look like I’m trying too hard, unnatural. Even when I try more random direction changes, they just look silly.

Does anyone have any general or specific tips for branch styling? I’d love to know what’s best for different species too. Virt’s would be appreciated if anyone is keen.

Does anyone have any progressions of a tree that they bought from a nursery with a bunch of random growth that they’ve been able to develop into something with wired primary branches? There are tonnes of progressions here but mostly they’re over years with a variety of techniques.

Also I have a very nice trident from shibui and I have been trying to start branch development. But all the growth is straight upwards. If I wire it too early it breaks off the trunk, if I wait til it’s hardened it’s stiffly pointing up as it exits the trunk and wire can’t fix this. How do I do this??
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Re: Branch development tips

Postby Matthew » October 31st, 2017, 11:54 am

Young shoots on tridents I have wired no problem to vertical etc however I believe that allowing the branch to thicken than cut back to first set of nodes and repeat the process long term gives better branch movement and ramification. I was one for believing all branches should start in a downward direction and I was training all my early trees this way :whistle: . While for some conifers its proberly widely excepted, deciduous/fruiting/flowering trees I believe should be trained in a more upward manner
Mike or Shibui on here will explain it a lot better im sure.

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Last edited by Matthew on October 31st, 2017, 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Branch development tips

Postby shibui » October 31st, 2017, 6:23 pm

Matthew has pointed out that there are differences in natural branch placement between different species. Elms have a strong tendency for branches to reach upward rather than down. Conifers are more likely to have branches downward right from the trunk. Not all trees need to have branches downswept.

New trident shoots grow strongly vertical as you have found. A quick way to start the young branches heading outward is to wait until the shoots are long enough then gently take the tips under the pot. A few trials and you will discover how much bend you can put in without breaking them off. In just a couple of days they will be set in that position. It does not matter where the ends of these new shoots are because at Matthew has explained you'll soon cut back almost to the base .
This method often still won't get the desired branch angles at the base. Another approach is to allow the shoots to grow strongly for a month or so then cut them just a cm above the base. That will mean no leaves left on that shoot. The result is lots of new shoots coming from around the base of the shoot. Some will grow upward, some will grow out sideways and occasionally a few will even grow downward. Leave them all to grow for a few weeks to gain some strength then remove the ones that are obviously growing in the wrong direction. Leave the best ones until they are strong enough to be wired. Because they are already growing outward they will be easier to bend into the desired angles without breaking off.

Hope that helps a bit.
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Re: Branch development tips

Postby Beano » November 2nd, 2017, 11:23 am

Thank you. I will try these things.
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