Need to apply some big bends is a Wisteria…Anyone have an idea of the best timing to do this work?
Wisteria has 2 big pushes of growth where I am. (5a) spring and early fall. It does constantly grow throughout the growing season. If you were to follow the tree rules it would be best to do this right before the big pushes of growth when the plant is in an energy positive.
Wisteria is not a tree and you do not have to follow a lot of the bonsai rules. An example is the soil. A wisteria, being a vine, prefers regular soil. I have three in pots and have experimented and found that there is not much difference other than it needs watered more in bonsai soil, so why waste it.
Wisteria is pretty flexible and I have bent it in every month of the growing season and never had it fail. I then put it right in the sun to add girth. The vine must add girth for it to hold bends. To hold the bends I use a collaring method or guywire. A collar a band you simply wrap/loop around both sides of the bend with a proper sized ceramic rubber band or electrical tape. It does not look that great, but the vine can gain girth without leaving marks and rewiring all the time. The banding needs to be moved just a bit once a month or that will leave a mark too. It takes about 2 years for tighter bends to hold with no spring back and you must let it grow so it can gain girth.
What’s the best way to get them to bloom in a bonsai pot?
Can the blooms be timed? A Florida grower told me that she defoliates a bougainvillea 45 days before a show and it will be covered in “blooms” at the optimum time. I’m curious if wisteria can be timed in a similar way.
I have not experimented with that but through temp and light control it should be possible. I have tried deadheading and that can produce a second flush of flowers in September.
Once in the pot, you can form your main structure, but it is best to let it grow until it does flower. Let some extra vines grow up a trellis. I have always used mature stock and it has never taken longer than 2 years to get some blooms. After it blooms, I leave one or more extra vines growing up a trellis to encourage thickening and root growth. They just can not shade the structure of the main bonsai. When ready, I cut these off in early spring so all of the root energy goes into the bonsai. This process is repeated as often as needed to get the bloom strength you want. Standard gardeners pruning practices should also be followed to maximize blooms.