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Select a specimen which has inherent possibilities of becoming a fine bonsai. Set the tree at eye level and turn it around to determine which parts to train for the front, the back, the left and right sides. Now inspect the roots; take a blunt tool and dig away some of the soil to expose the large, heavy roots near the base of the trunk. They should be of good size and widely spread. After the roots have been exposed, the style can be settled upon, and training can begin.
The traditional arrangement of branches is achieved by pruning and wiring. Remove excess branches; shorten long ones. Then wind copper wire around the trunk and branches, starting at the bottom of the tree with heavy wire and continuing out to the twig ends with lighter gauges. As the wire is applied, gently bend the trunk, branches and twigs into position. Bending the wire hardens it so that it keeps the branches in place. Select the size of wire according to the thickness of the trunk or branch. Leave it on the tree from six months to a year. If the tree grows quickly, remove the wires before they scar the bark, and then rewire. After six months or so, the woody portions of the branches will retain their shape and the wire can be removed. Wiring is repeated as branches grow out and need shaping. Many people prefer to prune and wire after potting. This avoids prolonged root exposure.
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