A bonsai artist can recreate this driftwood effect much quicker than nature by removing bark from the trunk and branches with a sharp knife and applying a solution of lime sulphur to bleach the wood white. Lime sulphur is not exclusively used with bonsai. Typically it is diluted and used as a pesticide on dormant deciduous trees. However, in bonsai it is applied undiluted to the dead wood on conifers, once in the summer and again in the winter. The benefit of lime sulphur is twofold. First, it bleaches the wood giving the impression of great age. Second, it preserves and protects the dead wood from fungus and insects.
Before the application process, the dead wood should be cleaned with a brush and water to ensure the lime sulphur will be absorbed into the wood. A toothbrush is ideal for removing any stains that have developed.
Once the dead wood has been cleaned, the lime sulphur is applied with a paintbrush. It is important to prevent any lime sulphur from getting into the soil as it may damage or even kill the tree. According to John Naka’s book, Bonsai Techniques, a hot, dry day is the best time to treat the dead wood since the lime sulphur will dry more quickly, thus reducing the risk of soil contamination.
After the application process has been completed, the lime sulphur is left to dry. Be careful to avoid watering any areas that have been treated with lime sulphur until they are completely dry, as it can be washed off with water and into the soil.
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Last Updated October 1, 2007 5:43 PM
URL = http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/faqs/BonsaiLimeSulphur.html