Deadwood on Bonsai (Jin and Shari)
Creating deadwood on Bonsai, in the form of Jin or Shari, can enhance the tree's character significantly. A "Jin" is a bare-stripped part of branch and a "Shari" is a barkless part of trunk. In nature, deadwood is created when a tree is hit by lightning, exposed to sustained periods of drought or when branches snap due to ice stress, wind or weight of snow. The wood dies off and is bleached by intense sunlight.
This technique is almost exclusively used on evergreen trees, as creating Jin or Shari on deciduous trees often looks unrealistic (deadwood on a deciduous tree often rots away over time).
How to create deadwood on Bonsai trees
The best time to create deadwood is the early spring or late summer.
Creating a natural looking Jin or Shari requires experience; practice before applying the technique to valuable trees. Using the right bonsai tools is important; use Jin pliers, graving tools and Lime sulfur, available at most (online) Bonsai shops.
Creating a Jin on Bonsai
- Remove the bark from the branch, so only the hardwood remains.
- Using Jin pliers, pull away slithers of wood and cut them off at the end of the desired Jin.
- When the basic shape of the Jin is ready round off sharp edges, using either a concave cutter or some sandpaper.
- If possible, bleach the Jin and prevent it from rotting, by "painting” it with Lime sulfur. This will take a night to dry out properly.
Left: a bald branch (Jin).
Right: a barkless part of the trunk (Shari)
Creating a Shari on Bonsai
- Choosing the right spot for a Shari, not only one that looks good but also doesn’t cut off an essential stream of nutrients for branches located higher in the tree, is very difficult. Before you start removing bark, draw the desired shape of the Shari on the trunk with chalk.
- Do not take any risk and spread out the process of creating a Shari over the course of several months, if not years; start with a narrow strip of bark which you can widen in stages.
- Cut through the bark with a sharp knife and tear it down using Jin pliers (see photo 1, below).
- Once the desired shape is ready you can slightly hollow the trunk using a Concave cutter or graving tools (see photos 2 and 3, below).
- Now bleach the Shari part by “painting” it with Lime sulfur, which will protect the tree against infections as well.
And then? Aftercare
No special aftercare is required.