Remember how earlier this year I repotted and worked on this legacy Crape myrtle, Lagerstoemia indica, that my friend Allen Gautreau bequeathed me? The large branch in the tree’s crown had grown too thick over the years, and needed to be removed.


At the time I noted that it was a safe bet that the tree would produce one or more buds right near or at the spot where the branch was removed. This indeed did happen, and I reported on it in the next blog installment. And now we’ve reached the next milestone in this process.


The perfectly-placed shoot has now grown long enough and thick enough to be wired and positioned. As I recreate this branch in the upper part of the tree, I need to be sure that each step occurs at the right time and in the right way.


Now the wire is on. Always be sure to anchor your wire securely. In this case, you can just see where I’ve made a couple of loops on the mature branch to the left and below my new shoot/branch.


Now the shoot has been positioned where I want it. And this is hardly a random choice. Each branch on a bonsai needs to have its own space. As you work your way up a tree during an initial wiring, your first few branches are more or less guaranteed to not conflict with one another. It’s when you start getting into the more crowded parts of the tree that you run the risk of defying the natural requirements of the branches. What this means in simpler terms is you shouldn’t have branches shading out one another. It isn’t sustainable in the wild; it’s no more sustainable in a bonsai. So getting back to the crape myrtle, I positioned my new shoot/branch in such a way that there’s no other branch directly above or below it. Not only does this satisfy the branch’s need for its share of sunshine, it also makes for a better design.

Notice how long my new branch is. I resisted the urge to trim it because there’s more thickening that needs to happen before I “cool off” the growth. By allowing the branch to continue to run, it will thicken along its entire length but especially so at the point where it emerges from the trunk.


I couldn’t resist posting a photo of the nice fat strong bud at the end of my new branch. It’ll extend another several inches before I trim it back to within the tree’s silhouette. I expect this to happen in just a few weeks – crape myrtles love to grow in the summer. (I should also get profuse blooming with this specimen.)

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