I got this really nice Crabapple, Malus species, from a bonsai friend in Pennsylvania. The trunk base is just under 3″ across, and it’s 14.5″ to the chop. With a finished height looking like 18-20″, it’ll have an ideal diameter to height ratio for bonsai. And of course there are great radial roots buried in the pot, just waiting to be exposed when the tree gets its first bonsai pot.











And now I know how much a Crabapple can grow in two weeks! The trunk buds have exploded into shoots, and today I decided to go ahead and do some (careful) wiring. It’s probably a bit too soon to wire this tree, but I like to push the envelope. And with care, I can get a head start on the design.













Now I’ve got a basic design. I left two potential leaders, because I’m not sure yet which one I want to keep. But the answer should be clearer very soon.

If you plan to do early wiring on newly collected trees to establish an initial design, it’s important to keep a few principles in mind. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • There’s literally nothing to these green shoots but soft, tender vegetation; nothing woody, in other words.
  • Wiring them takes special care, and you have to make sure you anchor your wire properly by looping around the trunk or anchoring to an established branch.
  • The point where the shoot and trunk meet is the critical spot; it won’t take any torsion without literally popping off the trunk.
  • Work on teaching yourself how to wire a branch by twisting/coiling only the wire and not even touching the branch; both hands are needed, one steadying the wire near the base of the shoot and the other doing the twisting.

Now that this basic design is done, I’ll let the tree grow some more (which I’m sure it’ll do; these Crabs are amazing). By the time the branches are hardened off, it’ll be time to select, wire and shape my new leader.

You can see one of two carving projects ahead, namely the original trunk I cut off in order to create more taper. This won’t get under way until 2018; I need a good, solid pot full of roots before I start gnawing at that stump.

This tree is available at our Miscellaneous Bonsai page, if you’re looking for a really nice collected Crabapple to make a fine bonsai out of. It should be good to ship in June.