A Trick for Correcting a Wire-Scarred Branch-

Spiral scars seem to happen overnight. You go to bed with happy thoughts only to arise with badly bitten in wire.

Wire scars on some plants can last well into a bonsai’s maturity. How might we correct that? 

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Though slight, wire marks like this bug me. This Chojubai was wired when it was a skinny cutting. The wire bit in,  and the scars are still visible even though it’s now 1/2″ / 1.25cm thick.

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Making larger, more complex scars can help hide repetitive, parallel wire scars. In this example, blue areas mark where wire scars might be altered, rendering them less obvious. 

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Using a small chisel to make slight excavations just below the bark.

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After taking down the ridges where the wire scars are worst. It helps to think about camouflage here. Try taking small chunks away rather than mirroring the spiraling wire scars with new spiraling wounds.

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I find this latex product assists in closing wounds faster, Kirikuchi. 

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The callus / woundwood that will grow from removed ridges tends to mitigate the annoying spiral of a wire scar. Though counterintuitive, making larger, more complex wounds can help mask old wire scars. 

September 2021 Bulletin Board:

  • Our popular Seasonal-lite online education series continues with the Fall edition, Oct. 2-3. The Fall Seasonal-lite covers design and fall techniques among other topics, over two weekend mornings, including a 30 minute private with me. Earlier this year there were participants from Belgium, Spain, and Australia. Learn more about the course here. (A reminder to Seasonal students: the Seasonal-lite online courses are now required to finish the in-person Seasonal program, join us for this Fall session if you can!)

13 Comments

  1. Richard Dorfman says:

    Great tip, Michael. Will it work as well on a Japanese or Trident maple where the bark is lighter and the grain is more uniform in pattern?

    • crataegus says:

      Hi Richard, yes, it does work with maples. The tridents are easier because the bark sloughs off eventually, the Japanese less so because the bark is smoother and it will take longer to be less intrusive. but you can disguise bad scars on almost anything, with a bit of care. I’d not recommend Kirikuchi on maples unless you use a very light coat, maybe try putty or Top Jin latex. Won’t give such a large callus. quince are just difficult to close at all, and there Kirikuchi is helpful.

  2. mac410 says:

    Michael, Do you think this technique would work on heavy wire scars on white or black pine? I mean scars that will never grow out on a couple of branches.

    • crataegus says:

      Yes this can work with almost anything, I’ve tried on a lot of plants. The worst are the ones that are always smooth barked…those take a long time to get anywhere with.

  3. RAY NORRIS says:

    Excellent tip Michael👍😎

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Lani Black says:

    Thank you for this technique Micheal. I am fixing wire scars on my 6 year old Japanese Quince now. My question is the same as above, dare I do the same on a trident?

    • crataegus says:

      Yes it can work for trident too. The Kirikuchi works well for quince as they don’t close wounds well, but on the trident you might try a putty or another latex or risk too large a bulge from the woundwood. They close up well without much encouragement.

  5. Ray Stagner says:

    Thank you for this info. Going to give it a try😎

  6. David Wheeler (Portland Japanese Garden volunteer0 says:

    Hi Michael…….curious – is “Bonsai Bond – Pro’ the same as ‘Kinkuchi’?
    Also, do you know of a product that can be used as a ‘filler’ for really deep wounds? …so that the tree can heal over the filler.

    • crataegus says:

      I believe that’s a different product. Also a latex product, and worthy, although I’m not sure if it has whatever Kirikuchi has in it, maybe gibberellic acid. As for filling over wounds, I’ve had good luck with PC-7, a two part putty epoxy.

  7. Melvin Zamis says:

    Great thought and application Thanks

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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