First Time Styling - Juniper

SerSwanky

Yamadori
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I bought a $9 juniper horizonatalis at Lowes last week to prune, wire and style for the first time.

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Now I know I’m supposed to either prune it/leave it in its container OR repot 1/3 with bonsai soil and leave it’s original soil until next season etc/leave the styling until next season to give it time to recover…but…I didn’t want to.

I wanted the experience and practice since all I’ve done is watched probably a 100 hours of videos but I haven’t had a chance to actually DO it myself. I acquired all the tools, wire, soil mix and wanted to get at least ONE plant looking like a tree rather than a shrub. So I know not to be shocked if it dies from doing too much all at once.

It had a LOT more roots than I thought it would have. I expected half of it so be dirt. So I ended up cutting the bottom 1/3rd off, leaving most of the soil intact and then exposing the trunk line. Though it really seemed like there was more roots than dirt. I really didn’t throw that much dirt out even though the photo makes them seem pretty bare. It’s probably in too small of a container but it’s all I ha

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Watching so many pros style and wire made it look so simple. Once I got in there though and trying to remember all the rules made me really appreciate all you long timers work you put into your trees.

So this is the first styling. I know it might not pull through, I did try to leave as much foliage as I could while still giving it some shape. The front branch blocks the trunk line a lot but I thought I’d let it grow before doing anything with it.

This is the front I chose.

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Here is the base. Decent taper? Soil is pumice / black lava rock / calcined clay / fir bark

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This is the back side.

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SerSwanky

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I felt my wiring came out okay. I followed the Collin video doing the U shape around two branches. I didn’t wire them all out, just some of the main ones to fill in some gaps.

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And here are some other angles of the tree.

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And lastly, the back of the tree towards what I guess would be the apex is just a cluster. I’m not sure how to thin it out. Thought it’d just leave it for now. And deal with it in the second styling if it lives.

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RKMcGinnis

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I would of bought another juniper instead of the pot to practice and develop. I cut my plastic nursery pots down and use that then once the tree is more bonsai worthy (showing vigor and is more developed) I would put into a nice pot. Trays under pots can restrict air flow to roots and create excessive moisture. Procumbens are a good commercial variety found everywhere. It takes time and practice. As far as the tree you have now it would be wise to allow it to grow and not touch and next spring if it seems to have good health to thin out your pads and wire and develop them further. If you are trying to be speedy without killing the tree. Tree’s die without time and patience. Skill is acquired. But overall all that really matters is how you feel about your work and your tree and if you are enjoying yourself. 👍
 

HoneyHornet

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Any advice, pointers, gentle critiques?
Get more trees is best advice- they need too much time in between and you’ll be wanting to do more handling

keeping stuff alive is major so I’d say get more trees , dig some native stuff- keep things alive and get comfortable with what your doing and just keep on doing it

not every tree is a snip away from greatness so take the material for what it’s worth- then when you come across a really nice piece with great bones then you won’t ruin it
 

Ohm'

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It's not a big deal right now and you will get used to it with more practice but try to always tighten your wire everywhere without living any gap between the wood and the wire.

Also if i am not mistaken, when you wire a branch that you want to bend down you should always start enrolling it from the top for optimal flexibility.
 

Shibui

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I can't see any problem with what's been done. Commercial operators do this all the time to produce mallsai for sale and those all survive. Chances are good that this one will also thrive now.
And lastly, the back of the tree towards what I guess would be the apex is just a cluster. I’m not sure how to thin it out. Thought it’d just leave it for now. And deal with it in the second styling if it lives.
Apex always appears to be more difficult and the smaller the bonsai the trickier it is.
Definitely leave it to recover now and consider the next moves. There's a lot of growth in there so no wonder it is difficult to make choices but you will need to bite the bullet and thin at some stage. Good news is that it's much like a haircut - even after a bad haircut it all grows back again so you'll get plenty of chances to try.
 

SerSwanky

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I would of bought another juniper instead of the pot to practice and develop. I cut my plastic nursery pots down and use that then once the tree is more bonsai worthy (showing vigor and is more developed) I would put into a nice pot. Trays under pots can restrict air flow to roots and create excessive moisture. Procumbens are a good commercial variety found everywhere. It takes time and practice. As far as the tree you have now it would be wise to allow it to grow and not touch and next spring if it seems to have good health to thin out your pads and wire and develop them further. If you are trying to be speedy without killing the tree. Tree’s die without time and patience. Skill is acquired. But overall all that really matters is how you feel about your work and your tree and if you are enjoying yourself. 👍

I had purchased a pack of six trainer pots from a while ago. But I will definitely be getting another juniper to work on! And this time I'll play nice.

I didn't know that about the tray, I'll definitely remove it, thanks for the info.
 

SerSwanky

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Thanks for the advice everyone! I'll definitely be getting a few more trees and start thinning out that apex in the spring and make some adjustments to my wiring!
 

Natty Bumppo

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I was in your shoes one year ago and did the same thing. Bought a Japanese cedar at Lowes and dove in head first with pruning, wiring and root pruning/repotting. One year later, the little tree still looks very healthy. Nursery stock is often rootbound in their pots. I don't think it hurts them at all to lose some of the root mass.
 

Kullas

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Looks good so far. With a little time I think it will make a nice tree. I have one on the bench that is still in the nursery container. I wired it and removed some of the small inner foliage. Haven't done much to it but look at it
 

SerSwanky

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We just got a cold snap through Washington state, week prior was mid 40s-50s and it dropped to the low 30s and we got snow flurries over the weekend. This is my first outdoor tree and haven't done the research on overwintering or how to handle trees in the cold because I wasn't expecting I needed to worry about it just yet since TECHNICALLY it's spring. I haven't read on watering practices in the winter/cold weather. I imagine water it less in the cold because it takes longer to dry up.

Any advice on watering in the cold temperatures?
 

Japonicus

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Any advice on watering in the cold temperatures?
Same as Summer, when it needs it.
This obviously will be less frequently
as the plant is not actively growing during cold weather or when declining during the growing season.
Check weekly during dormancy
and water according to needs.
 

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