Bending Big Branches by Notching

Jul 5th, 2011 | By | Category: Bonsai How To, Featured Articles

What is Notching?

Last week, Teacher Wong demonstrated how to bend thick branches of a Eugenia uniflora (aka Brazilian Cherry, 紅果 in Chinese) bonsai tree by notching.  “So, what is notching?” you probably will ask.  Notching is a technique of bending a branch by cutting a “V” shape across the width of the branch and bend it into position  Notching is especially useful for bending thick branches.

Bending-Bonsai-Tree Bending-Bonsai-Tree

We must make the cuttings of the “V” shape as smooth and as straight as possible so to avoid any gap in between the cuttings when we pull together the cuttings and bend the branch with a guy wire tourniquet.

Bending-Bonsai-Tree Bending-Bonsai-Tree

Wound Care: Wound Sealant or Waterproof Adhesive Tape?

While many bonsai enthusiasts prefer the use of wound sealant to protect cutting wounds on their bonsai trees, Teacher Wong advises us to use waterproof adhesive tape to tightly and completely wrap around the cutting wound for protection. And same as how we use adhesive aluminum foil, we should never use any wound sealant when we are using waterproof adhesive tape (for more about adhesive aluminum foil, visit Sealing Cuts of Bonsai Trees.)

Bending-Bonsai-Tree Bending-Bonsai-Tree

Besides bending two major branches by notching, we also cut away some unsightly roots of the bonsai tree.

Bending-Bonsai-Tree Bending-Bonsai-Tree
LEFT: Before RIGHT: After

Best Time for Notching

Since notching leaves a big wound on the bonsai tree, the most suitable time periods to carry out such operation for our trees are either in spring (when the weather is still cool  while the tree has started its growing season), or in early autumn (when the summer heat has gone, and our tree still have much time to heal its wound before it goes dormant).


While I was trying to find out the proper term of this “V-shaped cutting and bending” technique, I came across a very useful article that describe different ways to bend thick or brittle branches with lots of photo illustrations by Harry Harrington in his very informational website.

7 Comments to “Bending Big Branches by Notching”

  1. John says:

    I appreciate your commentary. The notching sounds interesting. Did the branch take well and heal? I spotted the cutting of the root and was attracted to learn more. I have a tree I recently pulled from the woods. Okay…more like a stump with branches. It has possibilities (I think so anyway). It will need carving and does have a large ugly root that needs to be removed from the side. So far the tree has taken well to it’s new surrounding soil. No box or pot yet…ground is all for now. Next is lifting it out and beginning to reduce the number of roots. I know I will have to make some root reduction happen. So…if you have the opportunity…talk about root cutting. Related to the picture you took of the root cutting…how does that area look now after some regrowth time?

  2. Sandy Sandy says:

    Okay John, I will keep that in mind and will write a post once I have some good materials (for show and tell) in hand.

  3. maty says:

    I love you site, I only wish you continue. Is there any journal webpage that i can subscribe to for your club?

  4. Sandy Sandy says:

    Hi Maty,

    Thank you for visiting Happy Bonsai. If you want to know more about my bonsai club, you can check out its website, which is also built by me :), at . If you use Facebook, my bonsai club has created a group. You can search “Institute of Lingnan Penjing Hong Kong”, then you can find our group in FB. While it’s mainly in Chinese, you can find many bonsai photos there.

    Happy Bonsai!

  5. Maliea Chiem says:

    Great info! I’m a beginner but, have quickly become addicted!!! Love HappyBonsai!!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I am preparing to begin Bonsai, and I’m absolutely thrilled to find a site that has more information on it. I think Bonsai is a beautiful form of art.

  7. Geoff Murray says:

    Whilst the technique is very good, I have used curfing techniques for some years and find there is less impact on the tree and the healing is faster

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