Growth Management for 3 Itoigawa Junipers

Gert

Yamadori
Messages
95
Reaction score
154
USDA Zone
8b
Hi everyone,

Curious on your best practices for encouraging growth that will be useable in the future while also growing out the trunk. I've had these 3 Junipers for a year now and have just been letting them run to thicken their trunks. Other than the one that looks ready made for a semi-cascade, I'm having trouble visualizing a future tree within the mass of foliage. Most of the growth for these three is on the far fringes of the tree, away from the trunk. My intention is to make three shohin trees out of these down the road. I've heard that upon initial styling, at most, only fifty percent of the growth should be removed. If I were to try and compact this I would think it would potentially be 75% of the foliage removed on initial styling. Maybe that is the answer to this question, to make the reductions in steps, jinning unusable branches. . . What can I do to encourage usable foliage while also letting the tree run to thicken the trunk? Are these concepts mutually exclusive?

Would love to hear your thoughts, opinions and ideas for these three.

Thank you!

-Gert

tempImageSwCTC8.jpg
tempImageHnG8Q8.jpg
tempImageuysCAl.jpg
 

sorce

Nonsense Rascal
Messages
31,844
Reaction score
43,743
Location
Berwyn, Il
USDA Zone
6.2
There is a balance between trying for close foliage and buying for close foliage that surrenders an interesting trunk to the possibility of Literati or grafting.

The first would go literati for me, because that top tuft usually still has close branching.

The second...not as much so but too.

The "longest", slowest, forever trees are ones that are so close to the middle of the balance, someone may try the wrong way for too long.

It's always better to give yourself time to ponder, while practicing PPB, keeping potential problems at bay, so you lose no design possibilities and gain strength.

Sorce
 

Paradox

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,935
Reaction score
7,832
Location
Long Island, NY
USDA Zone
7a
Juniper rely on their foliage to store energy for winter survival which is counter to what most other species do.

Cutting 75% of the foliage could kill the juniper so you need to go slow and work them back over multiple years.

Shorten some of the branches but leave foliage on them as close to the trunk as you can. Leave enough to support the branch. Any branch without foliage will die.

Fertilize them heavily. Besides the cakes or whatever you have in the bags/baskets, feed them with a liquid fertilizer of your choice (fish emulsion if you prefer organic or chemical based).

Other than that, lots of sun
 

Gert

Yamadori
Messages
95
Reaction score
154
USDA Zone
8b
Thanks y'all -- sounds like the slow reduction is the safe bet. I've been bad this year with my Sunday morning fish fertilizer regimen. Need to get more discipline!
 
Messages
199
Reaction score
211
Location
NC Zone 7
Looks like you could air layer some of the long branches, if you have the time. This would help with back budding.
Just my thoughts.
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,101
Reaction score
9,694
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
I know large juniper reduction is currently avoided by many but I regularly make 50% -75% reductions in juniper foliage and have not seen deaths from that so I think this info may be just a little over stated.
There is always a trade off between letting trees grow free for faster growth and good usable growth down low. You can opt for slower growth rates and retain useful low foliage or you can get faster growth and then spend more years promoting back budding to regain the lost low shoots but I have not yet manged to do both at once. In either case final result still takes many years.

Looks like the main trunks have good bends and movement but the branches all seem quite straight. I would consider wiring some of the branches that are still flexible to begin setting some bends that match the trunk. Wiring some bends will automatically bring the foliage on those branches in closer and may help solve part of the problem.

By the time mine have reached this stage I have usually picked out which branches are definitely not part of the final design. Once identified, foliage is stripped off the lower section of those branches which allows better light into the other branches to help with healthy foliage. You might also consider jinning some of the sacrifice branches at this stage, especially if they are causing excessive thickening in the wrong areas.
I note that you have had these for a year. It is not unusual for me to grow junipers for 7-10 years before starting on final design work so you still have plenty of time to consider options.

Without a really good 3D view of the trunks and branches it is probably not practical or useful to give design ideas.
 

one_bonsai

Shohin
Messages
288
Reaction score
145
Location
Australia
I know large juniper reduction is currently avoided by many but I regularly make 50% -75% reductions in juniper foliage and have not seen deaths from that so I think this info may be just a little over stated.
I also regularly remove 75% of Juniper foliage with no problems. Sometimes I remove 75% of the foliage and 2/3 of the roots all in one day and haven't had a death so far.
 
Messages
379
Reaction score
1,265
Location
Portland, OR
USDA Zone
8b
I know large juniper reduction is currently avoided by many but I regularly make 50% -75% reductions in juniper foliage and have not seen deaths from that so I think this info may be just a little over stated.
There is always a trade off between letting trees grow free for faster growth and good usable growth down low. You can opt for slower growth rates and retain useful low foliage or you can get faster growth and then spend more years promoting back budding to regain the lost low shoots but I have not yet manged to do both at once. In either case final result still takes many years.

Looks like the main trunks have good bends and movement but the branches all seem quite straight. I would consider wiring some of the branches that are still flexible to begin setting some bends that match the trunk. Wiring some bends will automatically bring the foliage on those branches in closer and may help solve part of the problem.

By the time mine have reached this stage I have usually picked out which branches are definitely not part of the final design. Once identified, foliage is stripped off the lower section of those branches which allows better light into the other branches to help with healthy foliage. You might also consider jinning some of the sacrifice branches at this stage, especially if they are causing excessive thickening in the wrong areas.
I note that you have had these for a year. It is not unusual for me to grow junipers for 7-10 years before starting on final design work so you still have plenty of time to consider options.

Without a really good 3D view of the trunks and branches it is probably not practical or useful to give design ideas.
Not only can you prune them hard, they respond very well by back budding like crazy. I once helped Randy Knight transplant several hundred shimpaku, we cut about 70-80% of the roots off, and 50-80% of the foliage. In summer. Most trees lived. The secret I think is to let them grow out and fertilize like crazy first.
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,101
Reaction score
9,694
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Good to hear some others with similar experiences. One starts to think you may be the only person in the bonsai world doing certain things against the weight of vocal opposition.
 

Gert

Yamadori
Messages
95
Reaction score
154
USDA Zone
8b
Thanks for the great information y'all. I likely won't take much action this year other than fertilizing hard. Itoigawa is slightly hard for me to come by so I don't want to risk it. I'll continue to fertilize this year and then reduce or really thin out branches that can't be used next spring. I'm in no rush!

I might go hard on the skinniest one just to have some fun and see. Or plant in the ground? Need to overcome option paralysis. Hoping to get a lot of successful cuttings from these three.

I'll update the thread with any moves I make.

Thanks again!
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,101
Reaction score
9,694
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Don't expect really rapid growth from J. chinensis even in the ground. Mine generally sit for 2-3 years before starting to grow much. Some have suggested they get better development in pots than in the ground but if you have plenty of time they will eventually grow in the ground and then start to take off.
Same issues apply to ground grown trees - lack of inner foliage and straight shoots.
 

Gert

Yamadori
Messages
95
Reaction score
154
USDA Zone
8b
I ended up getting some bigger juniper material so I decided to style these smaller ones. I kept the lowest branch on this one just to have an extra branch with some foliage and a runner due to all the reduction. It will eventually be jinned/removed. I might try to bring the foliage in a little tighter on the left side and reduce heavily on the right after a year of good growth. I think the main bulk of foliage on this tree should be hanging over the main trunk. I'll hopefully get to the other two trees this week if time allows.


Screen Shot 2022-01-31 at 11.52.26 AM.png
 

Gert

Yamadori
Messages
95
Reaction score
154
USDA Zone
8b
Growing pre-bonsai and trunks all these years really opened up my eyes on how much work goes into every last bit of wiring. I definitely need a refresher of the online course with Colin Lewis :)
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,101
Reaction score
9,694
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
That latest tree really has some good trunk character. Someone has done serious wiring over a number of years to develop that one.
+1 for the time and years of effort that goes into creating really good bonsai material.
 

Maiden69

Chumono
Messages
615
Reaction score
715
Location
Boerne, TX
USDA Zone
8b
I only have 2 junipers, a nana that I reduced around 75% twice already and another one I don't know the type yet that I plan on doing it as soon as I move it out of the nursery pot and recovers from it. I never heard anything about pruning them in a long time span. I mean this guy does it regularly, and while I don't have the years' experience that he has, the information given is good enough to help me keep my trees alive. The first juniper and the mallsai took a 90% reduction. As long as you provide the proper care the tree should be ok.

juniper1.JPG

juniper2.JPG

Mallsai1.JPG

Mallsai2.JPG

RMJ1.JPG


RMJ2.JPG
 

Gert

Yamadori
Messages
95
Reaction score
154
USDA Zone
8b
@Shibui yeah these little trees really have some great movement. I'm excited to keep working with them. The one that appears to have been designed with semi-cascade in mind is going to be fun.

@Maiden69 I've reduced a few procumbens pretty heavily as well without issue. For these three I fertilized heavily last year before making the big cuts. They actually put on a bit of trunk thickness in that time as well. The other of these trees I'm less sure with what to do and I might make an even bigger reduction than the one I just chopped and styled with a curvy sparse tree in mind. I'll be working on that one next. I'll probably hold off on repotting two of these until next spring as they still have plenty of room to grow in the pots they are in. The third, I might reduce to allow sunlight on parts I want to keep, repot and fertilize heavily this year with a styling in mind for next spring.

I think keeping an extra branch or two for a possible jin, and some extra sunlight sucking won't cause any issues.

I do think I need to take these to a workshop or two in April to learn more about branch placement, and pad creation. Maybe they just need a little time to fill in, but I'd like some hands on learning/experience.

Also started a handful of cuttings. I will probably have more than I know what to do with, but I'd rather have that problem. Hopefully they strike.

Screen Shot 2022-02-01 at 9.08.30 AM.png
 

Arnold

Omono
Messages
1,334
Reaction score
1,951
Location
Canary Islands, Spain
USDA Zone
11B
I only have 2 junipers, a nana that I reduced around 75% twice already and another one I don't know the type yet that I plan on doing it as soon as I move it out of the nursery pot and recovers from it. I never heard anything about pruning them in a long time span. I mean this guy does it regularly, and while I don't have the years' experience that he has, the information given is good enough to help me keep my trees alive. The first juniper and the mallsai took a 90% reduction. As long as you provide the proper care the tree should be ok.

View attachment 418494

View attachment 418495

View attachment 418496

View attachment 418497

View attachment 418498


View attachment 418499
Wow the Ishizuki its mindblowing
 

Gert

Yamadori
Messages
95
Reaction score
154
USDA Zone
8b
Here's another of the three trees in the initial post. A bit of a rough styling. This one gave me the most trouble visually before I got to work. Once I started removing some unnecessary branches I think it started to come together. Will just let it grow for now and repot spring 2023.

I'm going to have to watch the wire on this one, I'm thinking it is going to bite in fast.

Screen Shot 2022-02-05 at 6.02.21 PM.png

IMG_9664.jpeg
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom