A phoenix graft is a bonsai technique where a young sapling is attached to a piece of deadwood to create the illusion of an old and weathered tree. The name comes from the mythical bird that rises from the ashes of death, symbolizing rebirth and transformation . The Japanese term for this technique is tanuki, which means deception or cheat, and is often frowned upon by traditional bonsai artists. However, some Western bonsai artists view phoenix graft as a creative and artistic way of combining nature's art with living material .
To create a phoenix graft, one needs to select a piece of driftwood that has interesting natural lines and looks like a portion of a dead tree. The driftwood should be cleaned, carved, bleached and treated with wood preservative. Then, one needs to select a young and flexible plant that matches the species or appearance of the driftwood. The most popular plants used in phoenix graft are junipers. The plant should be fitted into a groove carved into the driftwood, following its curves. The plant should be secured with wire, glue or nails, and covered with moss or cut paste to hide the join. The plant should be watered and fertilized regularly to ensure its survival and growth.