One Technique to Heal Large Wounds – Crape Myrtle Case Study

The tree in the workshop today is a Crape Myrtle, the first picture shows the prospective front. Turning the tree around however reveals a problem, a large wound that was made a few years ago. If left unaddressed it will slowly rot down to the roots. Now this may actual produce an attractive result and it won’t kill the tree.  However, I do not want a hollow trunk tree. To produce a softwood bonsai that will maintain and improve its trunk for decades the wounds should be sealed.

There are always exceptions and its up to you, the artist, to make that call. For my personal vision of this tree a rotted trunk will not do.

To produce a softwood bonsai that will maintain and improve its trunk the wounds should be sealed.

The first step is to use carving tools or concave cutters to remove excess wood. Remove wood so that once it has healed it will match the contour of the trunk. Next I use a very sharp knife to score the edges of the wound. This will stimulate a response and speed up the healing.

Remove wood so that once it has healed it will match the contour of the trunk.

Now on to the subject of this post, our technique for faster healing. If you notice in the current selected front the trunk on the bottom left is too angular and looks man made. Additionally, since this wound is large there are no branches where I would like one. One solution is to thread graft a branch through the wound to solve multiple issues and speed up the healing.

This is purely an experiment and we’ll see how much it actually helps. I’ll allow the grafted branch to grow unrestricted and report back. For other techniques search for Ebihara as he has developed some really crafty techniques for healing wounds quickly.

Is there any solution that will fix multiple problems?


While the tree is being worked I notice an area on the nebari I can improve. Here we have two crossing roots that are distracting. I use a sharp knife to score the edges where both roots meet. I’m careful not to let any soil or refuse in this area and then seal it up.

The end result and the tree goes back on the benches. Likely none of the branches you see now will be involved in the final design. When it’s ready it will be pruned back hard and then I can wire new shoots to make the exact tree I have envisioned.

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