My first California Juniper....the begining of a long journey

alonsou

Mame
Messages
126
Reaction score
7
Location
Norwalk, CA
USDA Zone
10a
Yesterday it was our Bonsai club x-mas party we had a really good time with lots of food and items for the raffle.

I feel like the luckiest man on earth...... as part of the raffle I was able to take home a California Juniper.... :eek:. collected by (at least my personal opinion) the person with the most knowledge about CJ's anywhere around here "Mr California Juniper" Harry Hirao. :p

It's an amazing piece of material, 34" tall from the soil line, 32" branch span, 4" wide trunk (at the widest point), even it has a reverse taper, but that could be fix later on.

The president of our club Mr. Manny Martinez also provide me with some tips about how to take care of it, but I think I will need more than that, I'm even scare to look at it, it's a very impressive tree to me personally.

Take a look at it, and tell me what you think maybe a quick virtual of it future design, and what should I do with it, any advice will be highly appreciated like always, when should I repot?









 

Dwight

Chumono
Messages
599
Reaction score
7
Location
El Paso , TX
Excellent tree to work on. It looks like a female so it should petty easy to style. Heck , it's haly way there already.

If you're in So Cal Roy Nagatoshi ( Fugi Bonsai ) and Gary Ishi ( Chikugo En Bonsai ) are good sources. If yo are near the Bay area take an Intensive from Boon and bring that tree with you.

BTW , I'm officially jealous !
 

alonsou

Mame
Messages
126
Reaction score
7
Location
Norwalk, CA
USDA Zone
10a
Dwight,

Excuse my ignorance, but how can you tell a tree its a female/male?... this is the first time I heard of that...:eek: I'll check those place in SoCal, they are pretty close by where I live.

Thanks
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,682
Reaction score
12,360
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
That's already a stunner. Congratulations.

As much as you want to style it, DON'T. :D:D Don't plan on pots, future design or much of anything else artistically for at least a year. You're going to have to learn how to keep it alive and growing before you can do much of anything else.

Making design plans now is like counting chickens. Besides, the tree has a pretty solid design already -just needs some polishing.
 

yenling83

Chumono
Messages
906
Reaction score
923
Location
Nipomo, CA
Wow congrats on a very nice CA Juniper! CA Juniper was my first real tree, and I was beyond excited when I first got it. That will be a beautiful tree in some years. If I can give you any advice, it would be to move very slowly with it since it's your first. It's not in horrible shape, however from my experience your tree is not in not thriving right now and that's the way it should be before you do anything to it. Spring is usually the best time to re-pot and it's probably a good time to re-pot this coming up spring.

If it were my tree, I'd re-pot in spring into 1/3akadama, 1/3lava, 1/3 pumice, water and feed. I'd wait until 2012 to style-but that's just me and some may disagree. Good luck with it!


www.bonsaiboon.com
Great teacher with some amazing collected native Junipers.
 

Attila Soos

Omono
Messages
1,804
Reaction score
33
Location
Los Angeles (Altadena), CA
USDA Zone
9
First, you need to repot the tree starting late February, to confirm that you have strong and healthy roots. If strong and healthy, then you could do a few more things this year. If weak, then all you need to do, is to nurture the tree into health.

It all depends on how much experience do you have. The thing with California junipers is that they need to be stimulated, in order to grow the way you want them to. With stimulation, they can put out a lot of growth. Without stimulation, they are much slower to grow, and next year they will look pretty much the same as this year.

So, stimulation is the key, but you need to know how to do it, and you need to know what part of the tree do you want to stimulate. You can't really do any design work right now, but you need to have an idea about future design, in your head. Only then, you will know what part of the tree do you want to focus on stimulating.

P.S.: by the way, if you want to do some work on the branches and foliage, you need to do it at the same time as you do the re-potting. It's a one time insult, and then you need to let the tree recover for a few months, without touching it. It's a bad idea to root prune first, and then keep working on the green during the subsequent weeks (or months) without letting the tree rest at least 3 months. If yo do that, the tree may go into a shock and stop growing altogether.

Again, it all depends on your experience. If you have none, then the best thing to do is to take it to your club meetings starting next spring, and work under the guidance of someone experienced with California junipers. Working on this tree is a slam dunk for the experienced, but a huge challenge for a novice. Also, Roy Nagatoshi has weekly Saturday morning meetings at his nursery, he has priceless experience. He also has ready-made potting medium for you.
 
Last edited:

alonsou

Mame
Messages
126
Reaction score
7
Location
Norwalk, CA
USDA Zone
10a
Attila,

What do I exactly need to do in order to stimulate grow, I do understand that the tree is not in conditions to be style yet, so I will focus my energy on stimulate grow but if someone can explain me how to do it, that will be great!!

I had posted the same pictures over on another bonsai forum and I'm getting good feedback as well, one of the members even provide me with a rough sketch of a future design, and I'll be honest, I love it, I can already see my CJ under that design but I will hold my breath, perhaps someone else can come up with a better idea more suitable for this Juniper.

All I would like to do soon (under the right conditions) is to re-pot, maybe not on its final pot of course but at least on a big plastic training pot and secure it, since it seems that its loose on its actual conditions and I understand that the roots (specially the fine roots) can get easily damaged if left unsecured.

Anyone else agree with the soil mix that yenling83 suggested?... I will start looking for the right materials and be ready for when the re-pot season comes in.

Here's the sketch that I was provided with, I think its a great candidate for a future design.

 
Last edited:

Attila Soos

Omono
Messages
1,804
Reaction score
33
Location
Los Angeles (Altadena), CA
USDA Zone
9
That is an absolutely beautiful design, worth aiming for!

Basically, stimulating growth means that you need to remove foliage on certain parts of the tree, in order for it to respond with vigorous growth on other parts (you can only do this, when the tree is healthy, of course).

The first thing you can do when re-potting, is to remove the foliage that you are absolutely sure that you don't need. California junipers have a lot of sucker growth at the base of the branches - meaning that you have multiple branches growing out from the same point. So, from the outset, you can keep one branch (the one that is the most vigorous, and has the most green close to the trunk), and remove all the others that start from the same point. This is the easest thing to do, and it already gives a boost of growth to the tree.

The second thing to do is to remove the branches that you are absolutely sure that you don't need. If your are in doubt, then you cannot remove that branch. This is why you need to have an idea about the future design. When removing these branches, leave a stub, for creating jin.

And the third (and last) thing you can do, is to shorten the branches that you will need in the future. Here, I am talking about the branches that are too long and too straight, but they will be part of the future design. Here I assume that you know how to shorten conifer branches, without killing the branch.

One more thing to keep in mind, when you do the three things above: after all the removal of the excess green, the tree still needs to end up with a reasonable amount of live green foliage. Otherwise, if you feel that you will end up with too little green, then you only do step 1 and 2, and wait a few moths before you do step 3.

At this point, you should not do any wiring.
Then, during the next summer, if the tree responded with significant new growth, then you can start pulling down the branches with guy wires, or bonsai wire. This is going to be the next step: to change the angle of the main branches.

Oh, and don't even think about putting the tree in a bonsai pot. The roots need as much room as they can get at this point, so that the tree can grow fast and without restriction.
 
Last edited:

alonsou

Mame
Messages
126
Reaction score
7
Location
Norwalk, CA
USDA Zone
10a
Here I assume that you know how to shorten conifer branches, without killing the branch.
Do you mean Foreshortening? never use it before but I know what it is about, but if this is the way to go, the branches seem kind of brittle, don't you need to sharp bend the branches in order to shorten the distance from the trunk?... I don't know if this is the right way to go ..

Oh, and don't even think about putting the tree in a bonsai pot. The roots need as much room as they can get at this point, so that the tree can grow fast and without restriction.
Okay, so a training pot is a no no...? Okay I'll see what I can find for it
 

Attila Soos

Omono
Messages
1,804
Reaction score
33
Location
Los Angeles (Altadena), CA
USDA Zone
9
Do you mean Foreshortening? never use it before but I know what it is about, but if this is the way to go, the branches seem kind of brittle, don't you need to sharp bend the branches in order to shorten the distance from the trunk?... I don't know if this is the right way to go ..



Okay, so a training pot is a no no...? Okay I'll see what I can find for it
As long as the training pot is significantly larger than the final bonsai pot, then it is ok. But the best thing is to use a plastic pot that is at least 7 inches deep and at least 13 inches wide on all sides. I also like to use those low-fired round Italian clay pots, because they are porous and breathe easily.
 
Last edited:

Attila Soos

Omono
Messages
1,804
Reaction score
33
Location
Los Angeles (Altadena), CA
USDA Zone
9
Do you mean Foreshortening? never use it before but I know what it is about, but if this is the way to go, the branches seem kind of brittle, don't you need to sharp bend the branches in order to shorten the distance from the trunk?... I don't know if this is the right way to go ..
No, I don't mean foreshortening.
I am talking about cutting back the lenght of the branches that are too long. These branches can be already too thick, and impossible to wire. So, you need to cut off a large portion of it, but just make sure that there is green foliage on the portion that you left, otherwise the branch will die. Then, after the branch pushes new growth, you can select a new leader and add movement to it.

Often, you also cut back a branch if it is still thin enough to wire, but has no foliage pads close to the trunk. This is called "chasing the foliage closer to the trunk".
As you can see on your sketch, the foliage pads are very close to the trunk. This can be achieved by several means: growing new foliage close to the trunk, creating "hanging branches" by wiring existing branches steeply (almost vertically) downward, and wiring large curves into the branches that grow horizontally.
 
Last edited:

yenling83

Chumono
Messages
906
Reaction score
923
Location
Nipomo, CA
As long as the training pot is significantly larger than the final bonsai pot, then it is ok. But the best thing is to use a plastic pot that is at least 7 inches deep and at least 13 inches wide on all sides. I also like to use those low-fired round Italian clay pots, because they are porous and breathe easily.
Few things just to clarify and I think Attila will agree with me. The main thing is that your not chopping a bunch of roots off when you repot-which will lower the tree's health. Another options I really like is to build a box out of redwood fence posts. At the same time you don't want a huge pot or box with a bunch of excess soil in it. Bonsai is all about Balance and too much water and soil can be just as bad as not enough. Repotting can be confusing, and having someone to show you what to do might be a good idea.

I highly recommend brining it to a Peter Tea Workshop or Private lesson www.peterteabonsai.com

and Boon's Reppoting DVD which you can purchase at www.bonsaiboon.com
 

jquast

Shohin
Messages
485
Reaction score
286
Location
San Jose, CA
I highly recommend brining it to a Peter Tea Workshop or Private lesson www.peterteabonsai.com

and Boon's Reppoting DVD which you can purchase at www.bonsaiboon.com
I agree with this as well, Peter is great with Junipers (as well as many other species of tree for that matter) and I've been lucky to watch him do some impressive things with trees during his monthly classes. You'd better hurry though, he has been accepted into an internship in Japan for three years and leaves in March.
 

rockm

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
9,682
Reaction score
12,360
Location
Fairfax Va.
USDA Zone
7
I would NOT take this tree to someone unfamiliar with the species for advice. Take it to someone who knows Cali. Junipers.
 

Attila Soos

Omono
Messages
1,804
Reaction score
33
Location
Los Angeles (Altadena), CA
USDA Zone
9
At the same time you don't want a huge pot or box with a bunch of excess soil in it. Bonsai is all about Balance and too much water and soil can be just as bad as not enough.

I agree there is no reason to over-pot the tree either. A training pot should be large enough to comfortably fit the roots, and leave a few inches for growth. But no need for more than that.

The good thing about the medium used for California Juniper (I use 100% pumice, but lava rock,DG, or a mix of all three can be used as well), that it makes it impossible to water-log the tree, no matter what sized container we use, but it is true that when a more water-retentive medium is used with other species, a too large container can actually be damaging.
 

tanlu

Shohin
Messages
280
Reaction score
7
Location
Washington, DC
USDA Zone
7a
I just saw those photos of your new California Juniper. Congrats!!! I would like to try to grow one, but I don't think they'll thrive in New York.

I too am officially jealous..^^!
 
Top Bottom