Thuja Occidentalis Dieback

walawelo

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Hello Everyone, So I got a few flexiable dwarf Thuja Occidentalis for next to nothing with the intention of training myself on wiring and pruning bonsai confiers without snapping, breaking or destroying any nice expensive trees.
The wiring went relatively well (one tree snaped and a couple got some scars but majority came out okay) but prunning was total failure. no matter how I prune or pinch the tree starts to dieback on the entire pruned branch.
I have even followed some useful instructions found on this thread to cut where frond branches off but still got dieback: https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/thuja-occidentalis-smaragd-leaf-pruning-help.36210/
what am I doing wrong? should I wait till winter for pruning?
 

HorseloverFat

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Hmm the thujas in my possession are quite strong and versatile (they WERE all dug from steep hillsides where they “darwined” for their survival.

Any pruning I ever did wasn’t met with much trouble.... but timing is important.. i just was under the assumption that Thujas were LESS picky, I still performed my pruning semi-“dormant“ on the waning end.. but this MAY be wrong.

How much foliage are you leaving behind?

Pictures would be superbly helpful.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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I too would like to see pictures.
I'm growing a couple from seed and I seem to be able to hack it back to whatever foliage is left without any issues.
 

walawelo

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I doubt the pics would be of help, as I couldnt bare seeing dried up dead branches so I chopped them off (you can see where they . I started with heavey pruning first couple of times then by the last experiment I was hardly trimming the very tips of the foliage. Only part that survived light pruning was the top of the apex
 

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walawelo

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mmm...something seriously wrong here, I even had to change my IP to a US proxy to see the thread! Hope an admin can look into it
 

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HorseloverFat

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Hmmm.. what is the recent history of.the roots?

Have they been worked? If so, when.. and how? :)

Also.. (I have noticed) thujas (In the wild) vary their color a tad throughout the growing season with fluctuations in light and temperature.

Did the foliage slowly turn bronze? Or just dry out?

Did you grapple his branches tofirmly or wind/bend to aggressively?

How thick/what composition was the wire?

Did you hear splintering?

Did you notice any evidence of “outside interference” from furry things?

What kind of socks (soil/substrate) is he/she in?

Has this tree maybe taken up kickboxing in it’s spare time?

Don’t bother asking him/her... the FIRST rule of evergreen fight club is you DON’T talk.. about evergreen fight club.

Did you purchase locally, or did the trees have to adapt at all (in timing, mostly) after purchase?

Later sun?

Earlier sun?

Ratios of both?

;)
 

walawelo

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They dried completely as I could turn them to dust by touching them. as if they were completely severed from the tree and left to dry in the sun.
Roots were fine, repotted in the end of winter and waited three months till spring before meddling with them by that time they were looking good and growing (most are still growing well)
I used different gages of wire as I was experimenting with wiring for the first time, 2mm, 3mm, 4mm copper wire
the first few had aggressive treatment but by the last 4 I became quite delicate with them. Some of the early trials snapped but the rest didnt make any sounds.
I didn't notice any outside interference but cats, dogs, crows and squirrels do frequent my yard
The ones in planters get full sun all day while the ones in bonsai pots sit on my southern balcony and get 6 hours of afternoon direct sun
I purchased locally. they where grown from cuttings in the nurserie's field for couple of years then spent a year in the greenhouse till they went into bargain rejects corner
The potting medium is coarse homemade compost (sifted the finer stuff with perlite for some and just plain compost and and bi char for the others. I havent learn enough about bonsai soil mixes back them I certainly could try with a truface, bark, vermiculite mix I have been using for such projects since.
I'm sorry if they look like they have been to hell and back, they my are my very first attempt at this :(
 

walawelo

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the bark seemed to be flacking off in some places when I removed the wire but under it looked like green and healthy cambium
 

HorseloverFat

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Don’t beat yourself up.. like at all.

I have trees that AREN’T my first attempts that look like their STILL in hell. ;)

I‘m just trying to help you figure this out, as I am puzzled.

The soil isn’t “ideal”.. but I doubt that the length of time in it would cause entire branches to die...

Hmmmm.. some of those gauges are on the heavier side.. copper is also unforgiving once it’s particles are moved....

I don’t believe Thujas are allergic to copper (a quick search would confirm/deny)... did the dead branches have marks FROM the wire?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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The branches of Thuja tear easily from their trunks. We usually do not wire until late summer or autumn in order to avoid tearing branches off from the trunks. Even in late summer and autumn, they tear easily, but they are a little bit more sturdy in the autumn. You could have torn your branches loose when wiring, and did not notice until you did the pruning. Maybe?
 

walawelo

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thank you both for the advice, I thought it was a pruning issue because only pruned branches died but I see how my lousy wiring could have caused this.
 

sorce

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They say you can't turn the folaige upside down either, or it will die.

Repotted in fall and wired just as they're trying to cope with that seems the problem.

Sorce
 

walawelo

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They say you can't turn the folaige upside down either, or it will die.

Repotted in fall and wired just as they're trying to cope with that seems the problem.

Sorce

guilty as charged. I think I turned foliage upside down in many of them. Thank you for the information
 

HorseloverFat

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guilty as charged. I think I turned foliage upside down in many of them. Thank you for the information

Holy hell! THAT was the problem? ...

Wowzers... I NEVER would’ve “got” that....

It makes sense though.. Thuja foliage is made up of individual tiny segments depending on the interconnected system for “food conversion”, and not able to re-“orient” theirselves 180 degrees without damaging/choking that ENTIRE connected relationship with that “bit” of foliage...(maybe)

Suuuuper good to know.

:)
 

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