Nursery stock repotted - Can I do basic wiring/shaping still?

I’m new to bonsai and the forums so I apologize if this is a common question; my search results didn’t return similar questions.

I recently picked up a couple nursery stock trees (a Prunus hybrid and a lilac) and have repotted them to find a good nebari and prune the roots. The Prunus is particularly spindly and was grown staked to a bamboo pole. However, it’s also incredibly flexible right now.

Would it be a bad idea to give wire it to give it a basic shape given that I’ve just done a lot of work on its roots? Just something to give some movement to the stalk straight trunk? I think I heard Ryan say in the latest Q&A that some real basic wiring is fine but that intricate stuff needs to wait, but I’m not sure I heard that or understand that correctly.

Generally you do not repot and style in the same year. You are afforded more latitude with nursery stock, as these are often very young, and vigorous growing plants. They are also fairly inexpensive and as such can be viewed as a learning tool should they die.
Start in the library with the beginners series. It will provide loads of info. and answers to many of the questions we all had when we began.


With the one insult per year guideline you are apt to be pushing the prunus a bit if you put the fairly heavy curves it probably needs. However, even if the top dies out it will be a good learning experience and it will most likely sprout from the lower trunk. I say go for it.

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I’m going to use the “what are you trying to accomplish?” line here.

Are you itching for practice and want to get some first hand knowledge, regardless of what happens to the tree? Go for it!

Do you actually like the tree and would rather not risking it’s health development in the long run? Then wait.

When we talk about basic wiring, it usually means spreading out the foliage on a pad, or rederecting some small branches in the apex. Putting the initial movement on a trunk is typically not considered basic wiring.

Now, your tree might be fairly thin and flexible, and you may be able to put some movement into it without any damage, but it will still be an added stress to it.

Decide what you want to accomplish and venture forth, but be aware that being impatient is something every bonsai practitioner struggles with. It’s how you end up with a nursery’s worth of trees on a studio apartment balcony.


I went ahead and wired it up before your response, but this gave me a good place to start when I want to do something.

To answer the question for posterity, I wanted to get some movement in the trunk before it hardened up since it was straight as a beanpole and was incredibly flexible. But also, because I’m impatient and basically right now I feel like I have house plants with big dreams.

I was thinking of buying a couple more trees, but now I think I’ll wait until I find the ones I really want to work with.

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