Bending Thick Bonsai Trunks and Branches on a Pine and a Spruce Bonsai

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When working with Pine and Spruce bonsai, or many coniferous species, it can be necessary to bend quite thick branches and even trunks. Being able to bend a thick branch enables you to place foliage more easily when styling. Being able to bend the trunk heavily, as with the two examples in this article, allows you to reduce the height of a thin trunk or bring foliage downwards, closer to the trunkbase.

spruce bonsai

This Norweigan Spruce is much too tall for the size of its trunk. Despite its age of 100+years, the tree spent its life growing in a bog high up in the mountains of Sweden. Out of necessity, the tree had grown tall as not to be overshadowed by grasses growing in the bog.

spruce trunk bending

By introducing large bends to the trunk , it was possible to reduce the height of the tree considerably, and place the branches much lower than before.

spruce bonsai bending

The heavy bend was carried out in Sweden during May 2018. A year later and the tree is safely in my garden in the UK and in good health.

spruce bonsai trunk bend

Pictured alongside me, it is possible to see how thick the trunk is.

heavy bonsai bend

A closer look at the bend itself. Heavy protection to the trunk meant that I was able to bend it without too much risk of snapping. By reinforcing the wood along its length, a whole series of micro-fractures were created as the bend was made, whereas an unsupported trunk would have snapped at its weakest point.

The following series of images taken while I reinforced a Scots Pine trunk, illustrate my method for carrying out heavy bends.

trunk bend bonsai

The trunk itself is wrapped with elasticated black cloth. Available for sale on the Bonsai4me.com shop, this is a product known as "VetWrap" and can also be found at veterinary supplies.

After a layer of elasticated cloth, two 4-5mm lengths of wire are laid along the trunk (or branch) before a second layer of cloth is used to secure them into position.

bending heavy pine branch

The trunk with the 2 lengths of wire wrapped in a layer of elasticated cloth.

pine bonsai bend

Finally, two further lengths of heavy wire are coiled around the trunk. This combination of tightly wrapped cloth and heavy gauge wire not only secures the trunk into its new position, it protects the trunk from snapping and getting damaged.

scots pine trunk bend

The trunk of the Scots Pine after bending. In this case guy-wires were not necessary to hold the trunk in its new position, however this is often the case.

Make heavy bends slowly. If necessary, wait a few weeks before completing a bend.

Spread your fingers along the outside of the bend, and gently 'squeeze' with your thumbs. By squeezing the trunk or branch slowly, you remain in control of the process and are ready to stop applying pressure the moment you hear any cracks (of the wood breaking). If this happens, do not bend the branch or trunk any further for fear of opening the wound so far that the branch or trunk is lost.