Ponderosa Pine—With Same Wire for 10 Years
It’s true. I’ve a pine with the same wire on it for 10 years.
We often hear talk of removing the wire on our trees in the fall. The question is, when they are not in danger of biting in, why take the wires off?
Sometimes, the thinking is, it’s to protect from damage from cold—which, as Chapter 31 of Bonsai Heresy explains, is a myth.
Most bonsai, particularly conifers, need wire to dent into the branch slightly before removal, otherwise they spring back nearly to where they were before. The question of course is what a ‘dent’ is. This I’d define as a mark or indentation when the wire is taken off, but not so much that the top of the wire is level with the bark of the branch. That would be fairly well into the damage zone, particularly with deciduous trees.
If wire hasn’t made a dent in the branch, you’re safe to leave it on a while longer. There’s no reason to check wires in the winter (in temperate climates), but spring through fall wires can bite in fast. A good practice is to routinely and systematically go though your bonsai garden and see which are getting too tight.
Although 10 years is an extreme example, many slowly growing mature conifers can go 2 years or longer before wire needs removal. Young, vigorously growing conifers may need removal in less than a year. Often only one or two months is the limit for deciduous trees. Old conifers, however, might keep wire on much longer.
Copper wire on a Ponderosa Pine, left on for 10 years. This wire is very dark, which will happen over time with copper. These wires are getting pretty snug, but are not in danger of damaging the branches yet. Given how slowly this tree has put on wood, they may be left on a while longer yet.
Other branches on the same tree. It’s best to take wire off only when some indenting is seen—if you take it off before then, branches will spring back nearly to where they were before, and your work (and wire) will be wasted.
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10 years. Check. Nothing more beautiful than a nice wire. I suggest you put on some more and leave it there for 50 years.
Just to add to this: As I understand it, there is also nothing wrong with going in and removing just sections of wire that may be biting in more than other areas…
Dan Robinson told me at one of his workshops (2012) he never takes the aluminum wire off of his Black pines. He just lets the tree grow around the wires.
Like I said: nothing more beautiful than a nice wire. Michaels ponderosa will grow round it in the next 50 years.