Bougainvillea - Wiring or Clip and Grow Method

There are different ways and techniques to train or shape bonsai branches. The most popular one is with the use of copper or aluminum wire. With this method you simply choose a branch you want to change the shape and direction then wrap the wire spirally around the branch at an edge of about 45 degree angle maintaining a consistent gap between wires and providing enough room for growth. Also take into consideration the thickness of the wire to be used. Thicker branch needs thicker wire. As a rule of thumb use a wire that is 1/3 the thickness of the branch. There is also a tool called trunk benders which you can use to shape or bend much thicker branches.

But for my Bougainvillea I seldom use wire to wrap around the branches because they are really brittle and soon die back if wrapped tightly. One method I use is to put a weight to pull down the branch at a desired angle. I just used stone for my weight which you can find anywhere at your backyard and it cost you nothing (LOL). I also used the clip and grow method to change the shape and direction of the branch. This method is very handy and produces a natural curve and bends.  With this method of shaping your branches, you must start to work with a young shoot/branch that is still green and pliable. I find this technique easy, but of course you must take extra care when working on a young shoot.
This is my Bougainvillea Bonsai 1 on training. Growing the lower branches to increase more girth. I also changed the front of the Bonsai to reveal the section of the chopped trunk which will then be carved  maybe next growing season to add an interesting look at the trunk and also to hide the flaw of the chopped portion.

Bougainvillea Bonsai
Bougainvillea Bonsai 1 Progression Series
Taken on March 2012


  1. Bougainvillea Bonsai 1 (where it started)



It's starting to come along. I'm sad there are no pictures from this year. I have bougainvillea myself that's getting unruly, I was hoping you could give us some ideas on when to wire and how you choose what to cut back.

I had a very nice bonsai tree that lasted for about 1 and a half years. It got sick out of nowhere and started to die. The leaves got brownish color and died. Is there a company that specializes in bonsai tree care in Calgary? Thanks!

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