Home made cut paste

March 15, 2005

I've heard you can make up your own with kid's modeling clay and other items.

Anyone have a recipe?

Comments (35)

  • tim_moose

    The anti "bonsai on the cheap" brigade are probably starting to froth at the mouth right about now.


    But none other than Colin Lewis does recommend plasticine mixed with a little vegetable oil to keep it soft as a viable alternative to the "real McCoy" Japanese cut paste.(can be expensive, can be hard to find and can be hard to know that you've got the right stuff sometimes)

    The odd time I do seal a large wound, that's what I use, but it's only very occasional as I'm in the "don't seal a cut very often" school.

    Bottom line - compromising on bonsai accessories is never going to improve your bonsai but it may save you a few bucks/pounds here and there.

    Certain things are a must I would suggest like proper wire, decent tools and general good bonsai practice as recommended in most books.

    Best to "toe the traditional line" when it comes to this type of thing IMHO.

  • Markp6

    Im usually in the "no cut paste" camp, and will sometimes with good results use plain old white glue. But there are some trees and situations that need a protective layer like cutpaste.

  • trigger0214

    Where does one get plasticine? I have been using Elmer's glue.

  • greenlarry

    How about vaseline?(petroleum jelly)
    This is inert with no added chemicals, and I have used this on trees and shrubs in the garden(non-bonsai so far)
    It is a bit greasy tho but it does wear off

    Trigger, plasticine is what kids use for modelling so you shoyuld be able to get it from a toy store)play doh)

  • gregb

    DON'T USE "PLAY DOH" it is comprised mostly of salt and that sure as hell isn't good for a tree! Plus it dries and cracks when exposed to air. Plastilene=plasticene is an oil based modelling clay whereas "play-doh" is water-based; don't confuse the two, the results may be unpleasant.

    I don't agree that cut paste is difficult to obtain, there are several on-line bonsai vendors that stock it, Stonelantern being one of them (and no, I don't work for them) and that isn't where I got mine.

    There was a time when I didn't use anything on cuts, basically because I wasn't aware there was such a thing available. A club member insisted that I try it, and from that day forth, my trees all look a lot better because the wounds actually callous over instead of dry out and never callous over. It may be different in a more humid climate, but here in the desert, wounds have a VERY hard time callousing over if not sealed.

  • trigger0214

    FYI - I was able to track this stuff down last night at Michaels. It was sold as PLASTINA modeling clay.

  • Markp6

    My problem with the made in Japan cut paste available through a variety of sources is that since it is an imported product for a specialty market, it is more exensive.
    I just find it hard to believe there isnt a more easily available substance that does the same thing.

  • bonsaikc

    Here I am frothing at the mouth. Get a tub of the grey putty type Japanese cut paste. It's really only about 12 dollars and will last you for years. How could that possibly be too expensive?


  • Markp6

    Cause it is 12 bucks for a small quantity. There has got to be a more cost effective way to do the job. I cant see how spending money effeciently makes someone froth at the mouth. Doing bonsai right does not automatically equate to spending piles of cash. Besides there are many demands on the limited pile of cash I have.
    Diapers or cut paste? diapers win out
    Hard to tell a 16 month old she has to hold it till next pay check.

  • mark_rockwell

    "Doing bonsai right does not automatically equate to spending piles of cash."

    Well, sometimes it does, like it or not. Cut paste isn't one of those times though. Believe it or not, though, the $12 tub of the stuff might be more cost effective in the long run. I had a tub of it for a dozen years and I bought it for $8. That's probably less than what the basic ingredients to make your own will cost...

  • greenlarry

    Anyone else use Vaseline, I'd like thoughts on this.

  • paul3636

    Has anyone ever tried shoe polish?
    It was in one of the bonsai books I read.

  • mark_rockwell

    Vaseline, shoe polish, chewing gum, mud, etc. will all work, but they're also messy--Vaseline especially. Nothing like getting you hands, shirt, etc. greased by your tree whenever you prune it..

  • rjj1

    I remember a painter saying he used elmers glue with a small amount of paint added to match the bark.

    I'm not sure cut paste is all it's made out to be. I used to use it a lot, but don't mess with it to much now.


  • Krys

    I frequently use dripped candle wax, especially on the larger pruned roots. I don't know if this is a no-no but my plants don't seem to care. I once used brownish acrylic paint on a large cut on an azalea branch but that was a mistake. The wound simply would not callouse.
    Any comments?

  • mark_rockwell

    Sealing root cuts can be a bad thing. It can lead to root rot--since sealing can not only keep water out, but seal it in. The sealant can also prevent new rootlets from forming.

    Sealing root cuts is unecessary anyway, as they are in little danger of drying out unless you don't water...

  • geezerfolks_SharonG_FL

    There are many "specialty" products that have inflated price tags that the affluent love to flaunt. Cut paste is one that affects the bonsai community.
    I am not an expert, but I'm also not a novice (1978). I have been using Elmers (carpenter) glue for those 27 years. I have had no problems. It does the job, and is not all that offensive looking. I have sprinkled sand on it, at times, while wet, and a friend has went so far as to place pieces of bark on the wet glue. Looks good and lasts for years. I have a Chin. Quince that I have had for over 10 years. I have been working on a huge root mass for all this time I am now about to address the top (I have already taken two airlayers off of it). Previous owner had used cut pa$te quite extensivly... and it is UGLY. I will post a photo in the gallery. After three major root reductions,it still is in a too big pot, but I want to start up on the top now that I'm done with the airlayering. I WILL be using Elmers Carpenter glue.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Cutpaste

  • Porrep01

    Most cuts should be left to heal by their own devices, does anyone go around sealing full grown trees after a storm has ripped a branch off? Cut paste (or the equivalent) should only be used around the edge of a serious chop to aid the callousing process, the middle should be be left open to allow the tree to heal itself.

  • mark_rockwell

    "does anyone go around sealing full grown trees after a storm has ripped a branch off?"

    Well, actually, it depends on the tree. If the tree is a valuable one on someone's property, sometimes such a wound is sealed. Nature doesn't seal wounds, but then that's why some trees die in the wild. Infection can and does enter naturally wounded trees, sometimes resulting in the tree's death.

  • BonsaiLes

    I use elmers glue and cut paste just depends on the situation, which one is closest. Both work very well, elmers glue is easier to hid the wound with a little dirt, sand, paint, or bark added to the glue before it dries.

  • pcharles1956

    my grandfather used plain old tar on his trees in his yard.He had some very nice trees.Now remember he was 75 years old and that was back in the 60's. Things and produces are not the same now and most folks had a bucket of tar for there roofs....LOL

  • botanical_bill

    I use Crayola modeling clay, it works great. If you are using kids clay that will harden, put in some oil, if it is a non hardening clay, thats all you need. Just mix the colors to make a color that blends in!! Oh, its $1 a pound.

  • mapheoo

    I think i read in one of my books that you can use clay(not like modeling clay like the clay you dont wanna find if you need to dig somewhere), or mud mixed almost to a paste. and sometimes mixed with shoe polish if needed for color, or growth hormone to help heal.
    i have never used this but its worth a try. I cant really see it being harmfull to a plant.

  • organic_michael_13

    I made home made cut paste with this recipe:

    Mix equal amounts of candle wax and vegetable oil together.
    Melt it in an old saucepan inside a container sitting on boiling water. Take the container out of the saucepan when it is melted and leave it to cool until its like slippery gloop when you stir it. Add some ground cinnamon as a fungicide and colouring. Then get a whisk and whisk it for a few minutes until it is fluffy like chocolate mousse and not warm when you touch it. You can put it in a jar and use it when you need to. Dip your fingers in water before you use it because it is a bit sticky.

  • andimia

    when I first started in bonsai (at age 14) i used modeling clay and oil but it still seemed to dry out and get hard and cling to the wound horribly. No matter how hard I worked on mixing the colors the red would fade out and it would end up green. I forget how much I paid for it but it didn't seem to work very well at all. After I went to my first bonsai show my uncle suggested I purchase a tub of cutpaste. It was only $10 then and I still have the same tub today and it's not even halfway gone (7 years later) and I put it on every large wound that I create which is a lot when you take into consideration the fact that I mostly start with overgrown landscape shrubs that people give me.

    I also recently got a tube of the medicated cutpaste from a raffle. It does get a bit orange before it fades to brown and it smells a bit like Elmer's glue though the consistency is thicker. Both of these things do their job of preventing the wound from drying out and they're fairly inexpensive. I've had some large wounds heal over very nicely, but that also has a lot to do with the wound prep too.

    Honestly, if saving $9 over a 15 year period is that important then go ahead and make your cutpaste.

  • fkovacs

    Hi all,
    Thanks for posting on this. I was just in the market for cut paste, and it seemed awfully expensive what with shipping for such a little jar. Anyway, I tripped over this site in the hopes of finding a homemade preparation.

    If it's simply a clay, I have some Pescalite sitting in my bathroom I'll just mix up with water or oil and use (Pescalite is a bentonite clay in powder form used for its antiseptic qualities). Thanks again!

  • james_cheese_hotmail_com

    I bought some Japanese cut paste about three years ago for ten dollars Australian. It's lasted a long time and I have hardly dipped into the tub. I highly recommend to the bonsai enthusiast that you purchase some. Think of it as an investment for your trees as it is not that expensive and it lasts you about 10-15 years generally.

  • lal_fernando99_yahoo_com

    i saw japan mostly made many product but here secretly use cinomon tar

  • BassandBonsai

    I just slapped some super glue on a branch I cut off. It was kind of difficult to work with, but so far there's been no infection, which was my biggest fear. I just hope it'll come off when I need it to.

  • dhd47

    Wow, there are a lot of ideas here, thanks. Now i just need to figure out what to try out. I guess the product used would change based on the type of tree.


  • Michael Bender

    I know this is an old thread but has anyone tried using glue stick as a paste?

  • Mit Street

    Please , please, don't mess around with mythical and other lotions and potions for the cost of a cup of coffee. In the UK a cup of coffee is £4 or £10 for fancy flavours etc. Now a plain tube 100grms of wound sealant costs me £11 on ebay. It last me 2-3 years. I have about 50 Bonsai and another 50 starter trees. I ask for Bonsai stuff for birthday/xmas/ fathers day. Some of the stuff I have read about here and other places are detrimental to trees, you have to consider callous healing and protection from bacteria as well as water proofing. Apart from that I have two colours: pale grey and dark brown/black. It does improve the look of the Bonsai I have worked on and that alone makes it worth it for me. I am 66 years old, still involved in science , medicine and joinery : ie. I am not an old fogey, far from it in fact. I have been interested in Bonsai from about 19 years old.

    I have read many books on trees /Bonsai. There comes a point when scrimping on essentials is a really unwise and by the time you have made many an inferior product saves very little and often will waste your time and money. 3 cups of coffee spread over 2-5 years is not a fortune by any means.

  • TaraMaiden

    I use beeswax. Works a treat, is organic, and peels off on its own.

  • rmann2450

    My lagustriem privet has tiny bugs in the soil. Leaves look ok how to get rid of them, it lives out side I have had it 4 mo. My first bonsai

  • TaraMaiden

    Photos please, would help us identify the bug, and treatment.... all soil has 'bugs' in it....

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