Updated: Jan 7
A common thing i see is people stating that they would prefer to use substitutes for cut paste and cut putty, are they money saving geniuses or are they a victim of placebo? Lets find out
Its seems the more i look at social media Bonsai pages one of the more common money saving tactics i see is people trying to come up with their own solution for Cut pastes and Cut Puttys, But the thing i see with all of these is that these people don't fully understand the role of these components.
First of all to keep things simple what do cut puttys and cut pastes do for Bonsai?
Cut putty and Cut pastes come into play when making a large wound on a tree, The job of the cut paste and putty is to immediately activate the cells in the wound to start healing while also protecting the wound from drying out or rotting which would stop the wound closure all together. Both of these products usually contain certain growth hormones and acids which will expedite the healing process, i have been amazed at some large wounds i have applied cut putty too and seen how far over they have healed in just a single growing season. I compare this to the earlier years on trees that i didn't apply the paste or putty and the wounds on those trees are still open and the tissue is pithy.
Depending on the wound you can use either of these products but generally things like small wounds and cracked branches i will use a paste and for larger surface wounds i will use a putty.
So what about these substitutes do they work?
For the most part the answer is no, none of the substitutes i have seen people use have any of the fungicides, hormones or acids needed to help expedite the wounds healing process. After all when we are trying to create to quality trees we want that wound closed as fast as possible and as clean as possible.
Now lets look at a few substitutes and see their possible short comings
Bluetac : Although this has the same consistency of Putty it doesn't have any of the healing properties and it is likely to fall off after a few weeks in the sun and rain.
Vegemite: I'm not sure what the though process behind this is but I'm guessing you are asking for ants and other pests to take residence in your tree. once again it doesn't contain any healing properties and wont last in the weather.
Wood Glue : Now this might last a little longer in the elements but its not going to help with healing and might even cause the wound to heal over the glue causing swelling. The good thing about puttys is as the wound heals in naturally pushes the putty off and can also allow shoots to grow through it which can also help with healing.
Using Nothing : This one is pretty obvious, by not covering large wounds you are allowing the tissue to dry out and are also allowing moisture to enter the wood in the wound causing rotting. This also opens you up to fungal infections on your tree. Think of it like having a wound on the body, we want to protect it as much as possible and have the wound heal as fast as possible and have the wound close with very little scarring. imagine getting a big wound on your body and throwing some vegemite or wood glue on it and calling it a day.
As you can see these products do serve a very important purpose in the world of Bonsai and are not just a money grab. go to any professional nursery and you will see pastes and puttys on their trees wounds. Once again this comes down to people who practise bonsai as a partial hobby and people who really want quality trees.
Once again i hope this helps you understand another aspect of Bonsai a little better.
Until Next Time, Enjoy Your Bonsai Journey