JBP Grafting Question

Deep Sea Diver

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I inherited a JBP two years ago. It was in great health but sadly had large barred area right smack in the middle... where one of the the former owners had left the wire on way too long (photo). It also has a sad nebari. However it was in the family for a few years and I decided to keep it as a long term project.
After fertilizing it up well for a year, I brought it in to a club meeting where one of most respected experts took a look at it and marked off branches he recommended for cutting. That included a trunk chop, which I did, along with some wiring to keep branches separated for sun. I plan on jinning up the barred area later. (photo). Now the tree is pretty much two sided like a Saguaro cactus and I’m ready to possibly graft a branch on the rear side on the trunk to fix that. The issue is where and what type of graft. (Photos: a. back is side with pliers, b. front and C. top. ). I’m waiting to clean up all the trunk knobs later on.
As you can see, there are scars in the ideal spot, can I approach graph right over the scar, or is the best side beside (left of) the healed scar above the base of the bottom branch. Any thoughts?
Finally any thoughts on the nebari repair? (I’ll work on the wacky branch imbalance later on down the line.)
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Any comments would be greatly appreciated!
SSDO sends
 
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0soyoung

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As you can see, there are scars in the ideal spot, can I approach graph right over the scar, or is the best side beside (left of) the healed scar above the base of the bottom branch. Any thoughts?
'Scars' are irrelevant to grafting.

My other thoughts are to ask, can you not bend those branches? Are they too stiff? They just set there as straight pegs emanating orthogonally from a rather straight boring trunk. Bending the branches will affect foreshortening or the creating the illusion that they are shorter because the foliage appears closer to the trunk. Bend the lower ones downward to give more of an impression of age AND to make the foliage appear closer to the trunk. Etc.

It looks to me that you cut off the lowest branches that could have been the salvation for this tree. Had you not done this, you could have simplified what you've got into those low branches and a sacrifice to fatten the trunk between those low branches and the the ground. A nice shohin or chuhin was possible. Now I don't think so.

You're not the first to have erred in this way. I did it with at least one red pine and I may very well be doing it again with some others. With the red I kicked myself. I screamed at myself. I think I figured out where I went wrong and then I used it for experimenting. And then I threw it away. I again reviewed how I messed up - how I had let it get away from me? Then I got some new trees and am trying to not repeat my mistakes. You inherited this mess. But ask yourself why you think it wound up this way - what would you have done differently early on? Get some more trees and try a few different strategies to avoid this state - growing/wiring/pruning.

Frankly, I think this tree is hopeless for making a bonsai. But, maybe it can be reversed with grafting. I don't want to discourage you from using this to develop your grafting skills. That is a very good idea, regardless of how this tree works out good/bad. Further, I'd love for you to prove how far I have my head up my ass in this regard.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Thank you so much for your reply! I’ll work off the branch scar. I’m planning some more cleft grafts too. I’ll also plan on getting something in down low like you suggested. I didn’t cut those key back branches, sadly it came that way.

I could eventually wire branches to “cover” The back but I don’t think it would look right in the end and would not give the right feel of depth.

Anyways you are oh so correct, it’s a hot mess... but it could be real fun now that I have the time to plan and gather more ideas from folks

From what I can tell to those that knew my step dad was that he took it in as a project at a club auction. It wasn’t healthy, he fixed that but then he got too sick to work on it and eventually he passed. Dad possessed 45+ mature Bonsai. I got his favorite and two others, including this one.

I have a variety of Bonsai and pre Bonsai. None but these two require a lot of grafting. So I’m going to have fun with trying to make it as good as it can be!

That said, I don’t think you'll need to worry about stuffing your head in your nether regions anytime soon! :cool:
Thanks again!
cheers
DSD sends
 

Shibui

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I'm not clear which is the side you intend to view from. I suspect you've chosen the second picture?
I can't see this in 3D but I'm not sure that would make best use of either the trunk, existing branches or the new apex you've wired up. You've already mentioned the nebari is not so good so that will change as you work on it. Maybe it is a little early to be making a call on the best front? I'd be looking seriously at the other side. I know it has some lumpy scars but they should heal over in the time it is going to take to improve the branching. I think branch placement and new apex are bar netter from that side. Nebari is yet to be factored in as we don't know which roots will be kept or where they will be or how far down the better roots might be.
The tree does not appear to be very big. Trunk is relatively skinny, probably been in a pot all its life so never had the chance to grow. With some good care this tree could grow into a reasonable mid sized bonsai even with the bare parts on most of those branches taken into account.

I'm also with Osoyoung about those branches. I think there's a lot more that could be done with those before going to grafting. Some proper bending for placement would be my first attempted solution. One of the problems you have that makes it look like your cactus is the straight branches on a curved trunk. More movement is needed, not just enough to spread them to get light.

As for grafting, you can graft anywhere there is healthy cambium. That could be alongside those lumpy healing wounds but not in the middle of any because there's no cambium and bark there yet. I've found that approach grafts are far more reliable for a start. You don't need to be so accurate with placement because both stock and scion have their own roots so stay alive until they grow enough to unite. It can, however be a little difficult to get grafts in tight spots and the graft union may take longer to heal over and disappear.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Thanks! I’m open to most anything at the moment.
Right now I’m looking at this as 5-10 year project.
First by getting some branches grafted in and work on getting more movement on those branches you mentioned.
Next on fixing the nebari and getting it to back bud and/or put in some grafts on the inner part of the longer branches so I can shorten the longish mid branches once the grafts take.
I unposted the tree and dropped the in the Anderson flat last fall and I’m hoping that will speed everything up a bit. If not I plan to plunk it in a sunny spot in the garden.
cheers
DSD sends
 

Shibui

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Grafts on the inner parts of those longer low branches will be far easier than grafting on the trunk. i find grafts on larger diameter trunks with thick bark really difficult. Much easier on thinner branches with younger bark.
I would first concentrate on those roots this spring. Unwind and/or remove any that are difficult until you find a good radial spread of roots to make decent nebari. What you find there could well dictate the front and/or trunk angle of the tree which may make a big difference to where the branches should be and the direction of branching.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Great idea! I was getting a little iffy on grafting in that area, mainly for lack of a seedling that will fit right. Waiting a year will solve that as I’ve 1/2 a dozen that should grow out to match, while giving me plenty of stock left to make cleft grafts with. This will also give me a chance to grow out the JBP and see if any other back budding will help solve the problems up top.
It’ll be a root work year then. There are a lot of nasty crossing branches there, so I may have to pin the remainder of what’s left down once I sort out the lot!
Any thoughts on how much inner root trimming is possible on JBPs? I’ve done a couple hours of searching on relocating JBP roots and also on JBP nebari and haven’t come up with a lot of information.... however there does seem to be quite a few folks out there with nasty nebari problems on JBP trees of this age and older.
Cheers
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Shibui

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Looks like this tree is still quite young so root pruning should be possible. In my climate I can cut back JBP roots up to 50% for trees like this and for younger and really vigorous trees even more. I would have no hesitation removing any offending roots completely as long a there are some left to support the tree until it can react and grow new roots.
There are plenty of bad nebari on JBP simply because people are scared to do the root work because they see and hear others saying that JBP is touchy or can't be bare rooted. Neither appear to be actually true, at least in my area.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Thanks so much for your advice!
All righty then! Then heres what I’m thinking of doing.
1. Cut what won’t move and paste the cuts.
2. To move and pin down the roots that are mobile.
3. Then put a bit of sphagnum moss in the area of roots I’ve had to cut the ends off to move to help move them forward. (remove these later)
4. Finally, raise the media level 1/2-3/4” to cover the whole Nebari for awhile. Check the roots periodically and if ok, lower the level slowly in a year or so.
What do you think?
Cheers
DSD sends
 
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Shibui

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I would not be adding sphagnum to pine roots in my area. Cut roots will either sprout new feeders from near the cut ends or die back. Sphagnum may just keep the roots too wet. Your normal potting mix will be better.
I would start by raking soil away from the base of the trunk until I found a good set of roots on all sides of the trunk. That may mean cutting a few that are higher than the rest to get them out of the way. Normally I don't remove a root until I'm reasonably sure there's another one just below. If you get to a spot where there's good roots on all/most sides but some are higher on one side try tilting the trunk to make the roots horizontal and see if that new trunk angle might work. Sometimes a leaning trunk can be better than a vertical one but not always. Let the roots, trunk and branches guide you.
No need to paste cuts when removing roots. Cuts near ground level seem to heal up quickly anyway. You can paste them if you want - won't hurt but probably won't help either.
Covering the roots is vital to get the shortened ones to sprout new roots. your 1/2 - 3/4" is adequate but it may take a little longer than a year until any shortened ones are long enough to be uncovered again.

All this will be at normal spring repot in your area - late winter through spring?
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Thanks for all that information! Yes I’ll be working this tree within a couple weeks. It’s been in the 40’s and 50’s all January and I have a couple small 8x4 poly tunnels I can put the tree into to keep it from freezing or getting water logged.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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After a string of moderate weather and lots of rain we got our first blue sky day in awhile. So I pulled the trigger on the repot today, rearranging and pruning roots as possible in the nebari and potted the tree a bit deeper in a NW mix for now. Finally plunked the JBP into one of our tree tunnels to wait out the remainder of the colder days.
Hopefully grafting a couple branches on next year!
DSD sends
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