Common Juniper, J. Communis

klosi

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Hi
Common juniper is mostly feared by bonsaist. I've heard that they are not an approriate juni for bonsai because they are almost impossible to keep alive in a pot. Is that really the case? I found this on bonsai4me:

Common Juniper/J. Communis


J. communis is the only truly native Juniper in the UK. A needle juniper with dull-green foliage, the Common Juniper has a terrible reputation for dying inexplicably 2-3 years after collection however garden centre/nursery specimens appear to be far more robust.

So it really does not look good for this juni...

Has anyone got any real exoeriences with these? Is there a specimen in your bonsai collection? Does anyone you know got it? It is probably not that common in US.

I really wanted to get this juniper but now that I've heard these terrible things, I'm not that confident. Any info on this would be much appreciated. Thanks

image.jpg image.jpg
 

M. Frary

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Collected 1 this spring. We'll see how it goes.
 

klosi

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Nice. Good luck.
How do you think these would airlayer? Easy, medium or hard to do?
My friends property has a bunch of these and I can take anyone I like, but I'm just sad cause, as someone pointed it out on anoter thread, they are a heartbreakers. When should one repot j. communis?
 

leatherback

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I have had one for about 4 years now. Did ok the first year. The second it was protesting, and I did a mid-summer repot. Could move it into a pot 1/4 the original size, as most of the rootball had died of. Recovered within week, sprouting branches and fresh growth all over. Starting to get into bonsaihood now.

Airlayered the top out of it, took about 5 months to get roots on it. The layer was given to a friend, and I did not recognize it 2 weeks ago, after not seeing it for nearly 2 years. Thing has grown great.
 

klosi

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Thanks! It's nice to hear the things are working.
What happened wth the rootball? Did you diagones the couse of death to that much of roots?
Is this juniper you're talking about a yamadori or from nursery? What kind of soil are you using?
Thanks a lot for your input!
If you want post some pics :)
 
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I lifted a volunteer in my yard this spring. It's a few seasons old, but was in a dark corner of the yard, so not much growth yet. I put it, with the rootball, in a 3 gal. pot with reclaimed soil from some nursery plants- very fast draining soil. So far it is doing well. All juvinile growth, though.
 

M. Frary

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Here's mine. It also was a volunteer in my yard. Volunteered for testing that is.2015-05-18 21.20.35.jpg 2015-05-18 21.19.53.jpg
 

crust

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There is considerable genetic variation in communis Junipers so there is always a chance you could find one that handles bonsai life better than most. I have had certain c. Junipers as bonsai for many years(15-20). Nick Lenz kept c. juniper and developed them at the highest level and maintained them for decades--he had many successes--and heart breaks. Nearly all of his world class c. junipers were sold of donated to botanical gardens--nearly all were eventually killed. Try asking Walter about c. juniper --my understanding is he has had enough misery due to them he avoids them.
 

M. Frary

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I think I already see a decline in the one I dug up. It's kind of yellow.
 

leatherback

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What happened wth the rootball? Did you diagones the couse of death to that much of roots?
The person who had it before me used layers of substrate. The rootbal had become distinct sections, and the upper layer of fines had completely blocked any water infiltration in the coarse area. Hence all the roots in the lower section of the pot had died.

Is this juniper you're talking about a yamadori or from nursery? What kind of soil are you using?
This is I think originally garden centre stock. When I got it, it was from a bonsai enthousiast who had been maintaining it with hedge pruners for years. So I decided to completely re-build the plant.

I think it is now sitting in expanded backed clay, which is used in floors, combined with kitty-litter and pine bark. Personally, I am not too convinced on the whole substrate discussion, and follow Walter Pall's "modern substrate" traing of thought: Drain well, water loads.

If you want post some pics
Sure, but I do not have recent pictures right now.

As purchased 2011/2012
JunComVoorOud.jpg
Layer:
marcot-1.jpg
About 11 months ago:
jcom2.jpg
 

Maros

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I have this one is my garden since 2009. It is doing well. No styling of the tree was done since then, just some branch reductions to get foliage back. I heard a lot of stories about how difficult it is to keep them in long run. Maybe some are genetically better equipped to be bonsai. A lot of discussion about problems with them is around fungus which is almost impossible to cure.

 

klosi

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Uou a lot of valuable responses.
@M. Frary that is nice looking, I can't wait to see what you'll do to it. Firstly I hope it survives.
@leatherback looks like it's shaping quite nice. If you'll have the time spoil us with sme of recent pictures :)
@Maros It's great to see a juni from my area (almost). It's trunk is massive and has a great twist, really nice looking. This was probably dug out from somewhere right? What are you keeping it in?

Thanks all for the pictures, experiences, insights... It's awsome to see some communis are doing well in life as bonsai.

I have heard there are many masters and experienced bonsaist who avoid as much as ey can of this spieces, will ask Walter for his input, if he'll be able to spare some time.
 

Walter Pall

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As far as I am concerned common juniper is about the worst plant for bonsai. I have killed about 50 and do not own own. And I am not alone. Hundreds of European bonsaiists have given up on them. I know thousands of what one would call 'world class' junipers in the
alps and don't get them, although they are next to a road. If you gave me one I would not take it.
There are some who keep them sort of happy for a while. They don't know why. One thing they seem to have in common: never ever feed organicaly. Only chemical fertilizer is OK.
 

klosi

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Thanks Walter for your input. It's sad to hear this, at least for me. It's also kind of interesting thing, communis almost being unbosaiable :(
I will try it anyway, that's for sure, but with little hopes of devolping it in something great. If it dies I will just think: classic communis and I won't take it personaly.
I'm just a bit disappointed finding a real nice speciemen and knowing I will probably never have it in my bonsai collection...


Ha, I found this in a book from Peter Chan - Bonsai Bible:

trh.png

:D Classic bonsai books...
 

M. Frary

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As far as I am concerned common juniper is about the worst plant for bonsai. I have killed about 50 and do not own own. And I am not alone. Hundreds of European bonsaiists have given up on them. I know thousands of what one would call 'world class' junipers in the
alps and don't get them, although they are next to a road. If you gave me one I would not take it.
There are some who keep them sort of happy for a while. They don't know why. One thing they seem to have in common: never ever feed organicaly. Only chemical fertilizer is OK.
Mine will be getting the fertizer. I've been driving by hundreds and thought why not. I don't hold out much hope though.
Goes on the non collectible list with white and red oaks.
 

Maros

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Uou a lot of valuable responses.
@M. Frary that is nice looking, I can't wait to see what you'll do to it. Firstly I hope it survives.
@leatherback looks like it's shaping quite nice. If you'll have the time spoil us with sme of recent pictures :)
@Maros It's great to see a juni from my area (almost). It's trunk is massive and has a great twist, really nice looking. This was probably dug out from somewhere right? What are you keeping it in?

Thanks all for the pictures, experiences, insights... It's awsome to see some communis are doing well in life as bonsai.

I have heard there are many masters and experienced bonsaist who avoid as much as ey can of this spieces, will ask Walter for his input, if he'll be able to spare some time.
Klosi, tree was collected from forest in 2009. It was repotted few years ago, when a lot of original soil was removed, and tree was potted into temporary concrete pot into mixture of zeolite fraction 4-8mm and rough peat. I fertilize it with Osmocote and granulated chicken manure. And water it like hell.
 

klosi

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@M. Frary , how is you common doing? Month ago you mentioned it was noot looking perfect, so I just want to know if it's doing any better? Thanks
 

augustine

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I have no direct experience with the species however Larry Jackel, bonsai artist and collector from CO said the same thing as Walter Pall. He doesn't collect them.

Best,

Augustine
 

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