Juniper? Cutting Propagation

syphaxSeptember 17, 2006

I'm new to growing Bonsai (I've started roughly one month ago with a "The Mini Bonsai Kit" my father gave me. All four seeds sprouted and three are still alive),and I have a question that hopefully hasn't already been asked. I've searched the site and haven't found anything; I apologize if this has been asked. There are small Juniper shrubs growing in from of one of the building at my college, (at least I think they are Juniper). I cut off a small branch three weeks ago and placed it in water and set it in the eastern window, which is the only window I have in my apartment. So far the water is going down, but that could be from evaporation, the two main stems, the cutting is a 'Y' shape, seem to be becoming more brown and the newest needles don't seem to be opening. But there appears to be new, green growth at certain places along the stem, closer to the water than to the top. I've cut off very small pieces and they still retain their strong pine scent. Am I just fooling myself into thinking this thing will survive or does it have a chance until Thanksgiving when I can take it back home?

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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

I've not heard of junipers rooting in water. I rooted a few years ago with a strong rooting hormone in a good soil mix.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 5:23AM
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Hi, well I admire your intentions, but you could use a little guidance (wish there'd been an internet when I started!). Your father's intentions were also good (what kind of trees are they supposed to be?) and the fact they sprouted is good, but bonsai kits are notorious gimmicks, though occas. someone will get lucky in keeping them going, though half the trouble is that it'll be 3-5 yrs before you have anything workable, but if you know what the tree is, you do have a chance to hang on (if only while you're learning on other trees at the same time). Another problem is that they might be hardy (cold tolerant and needing winter dormancy) trees, in which case this is a bad time of year to have started them as they're going to be too immature to grow outdoors this winter, and may need keeping inside, and won't do well. As far as the others go, they may or may not be junipers, pines, larches, firs, whatever (can you post a pic. on this forum's gallery, with a note on here to alert us to look?) and as such are geared to go dormant soon, making it a bad time to try and root them at all, plus a glass of water isn't the way to do it for those (and in any case they need to continue living outdoors as any hardy natives do). And where is 'home'? That matters. I should mention if you're in school now, in a dorm or ??, and not there year round, that dorms are really bad for keeping any plants alive (too dark, dry, dusty, and you can't control temps, lighting or anything else) plus what happens when you're not there? If you think you're really interested in pursuing bonsai, you'd be better off either to wait altogether until you're in one place for good (and then work on trees appropriate to growing there, whether hardy trees growing outdoors, or tropicals inside - that may need special lighting, etc. etc.), or else start reading books on bonsai (I can help you there) and find a local club/assoc. to join because that's the best hands-on place to learn, no question, and there is an infinite amt of stuff to learn as you go along. Do try to get some pix up here though (there are instrs. near the top of the pg) of everything, and we'll see what you do have.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 5:26AM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

I've rooted junipers in November and December. A friend recommended taking cuttings after a couple hard freezes so there was no concern over cedar apple rust. I have an apple tree in the yard within a 200 feet of junipers, so Cedar Apple Rust shows up on occasion in the spring on the junipers.

They were moved outside in the spring and did just fine.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 5:57AM
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rjj - 1) you have some experience, 2) you're in a slightly warmer zone, 3) there are other factors to consider as well (see posts).

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 10:12AM
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I have posted a picture under "'Juniper? Cutting Propagation' Picture", as Lucy requested, and I included my other two plants as well, along with the one I think is a Juniper. Lucy, thanks for the great response. I'll try to answer all your questions within this post. The kit said the seeds were Jack Pine and what alittle I could find on the internet seems to confirm that. You're right in saying this is bad time of the year to have started growing them but my said he got the kit afew years again and I didn't know if the seeds would be any good so I just gave it go. It wasn't until after they sprouted that I found I should have waited. But I put them in the window so they can get the morning sun, and place them under my fluorescent desk light from mid afternoon till early night. I water them every other day or when the soil surface is a little dry. There is a thin layer of green moss over the soil. I also keep them atop gravel with water to increase humidity.
Home is New Jersey, central NJ to be exact and school is in central PA. I live in an apartment while at school with adjustable electric heating and when I'm not in the apt. my roommate agreed to take care of it.
You mentioned you could help me with Bonsai books? I'd be grateful for whatever assistance you're willing to offer.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 8:24PM
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I'll answer in the gallery where I can see your note... but while I'm here I have to comment about your roomie - really bad idea! Not that I doubt she's a wonderful person, but long experience with bonsai, plant sitters, other people's experiences, etc. has shown that with the best of intentions, sitters can't refrain from overwatering, underwatering, forgetting what to you are precious babies (but not to them), not being able to 'read' what the trees need, etc. etc. Onto the other stuff...

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 8:36PM
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bonsaikc(z5-6 KCMO)

I posted this in the galler, also.

Rooting junipers is actually very easy. In fact, even without root hormone powder or gel, almost 100% of juniper cuttings should take. It's simple. Take your cuttings at an angle to maximize the amount of cambium exposed. Use the sharpest razor or X-acto knife you can get. A grafting knife sharpened to polished keenness is best, but let's be realistic. Just don't put them in soil until you made that cut with as sharp an instrument as you can get. A doctor friend of mine uses a scalpel.

Simply put them in regular bonsai soil and keep them moist. Large cuttings are no problem in this way, if the tree is cared for properly. Larger cuttings are best done in a greenhouse with mist propagation techniques, but anything up to a half inch or even larger can be done by anyone, with care.

Pines are a lifetime study in and of themselves. I don't recommend them for beginners, especially starting from seed.


Here is a link that might be useful: Sashi-eda Bonsai

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 10:21AM
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Just for fun, since you want to start out, and maybe you havent been in the mode to spend lots of$$$$, or while you save up for a good one as Lucy sugests, there are come cool little, less expensive plants you could start with. I saw an article on the web the other day about some herbs that could be bonsaied. Ive got a sweet little Cottoneaster, that was a cutting that I rooted off another plant, it has neat little "apples" on it right now, You could get a tiny boxwood, or Japaneese box, and play with that. What ever you get that is marked "bonsai" or "Pre Bonsai" will cost you, but look in some other sections of the Nursery, Ive found some nice box honney suckle for under 4 $ and it was just in the 4 inch perenial section. in the bonsai area, it would have been double.Look for something with small leaves, that can make a central strong trunk, then when you get a little playing around under your belt, you can feel better about getting a more expensive start. As well, at least 3 nurseries in my area have had workshops for free in the last couple weekends, you could start reading and attending what ever of those you could find, and keep reading all the great advice folks like Randy and Lucy post here, You'll be fine. It was nice of your dad to get you on the path.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2006 at 10:18PM
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You sound like you're in a very similar situation that I am in! I too am a post-graduate student and looking to expand my collection of bonsai. And, as typical of most university or college students, I don't have a ton of money to spend!

Even though I'm generally good at keeping my plants alive, I don't really want to try my luck and have a bonsai with me in my dorm during the school year. Not to mention less-than-stellar growing conditions typical of most dorms or student housing (one window, just like me!). All in all, it doesn't really make for a good bonsai growing environment.

My plan (to be put into action this spring) is to obtain young stock and then to grow them into pre-bonsai material. If you can find a tree nursery that specializes in young starter plants for Christmas tree farms, reforestation, or rural planting, they have very inexpensive stock available. (Be careful, because they may have hefty shipping fees and/or very high minimum purchases). You also have to realize that they may not all be good material.

So, this spring, a set of young tree seedlings are going to be planted into a bed in my backyard (at my permanent residence, not my dorm!). Over the next 3-4 years, I'll be occasionally pruning them and wiring them to develop trunks and rough branches. Most importantly, though, is that they have intermittent periods of unrestrained growth to encourage trunk thickening.

Finally, once I'm out of university, I'll have some older stock with preliminary training to play around with.

One word of caution: make sure that you read up well on the subject of bonsai. When dealing with rough stock, it's good to know what your current actions will cause within the next few years. It requires a bit of forethought and, most importantly, patience!

As for books, try Herb L. Gustafson's "The Bonsai Workshop."


    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 11:42PM
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my prpagated juniper tips are turning dark, why?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 7:15AM
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A little more information would help, as would starting your own thread please. If you mean they're just becoming a sort of medium green vs the very light color they started as, that's normal for maturing foliage. If you mean something else, what would that be, and what are the conditions they're in, soil, temp, light, etc. plus their ages.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 8:59AM
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The tips are black. I have them in a mini green house. I water them every other day.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 10:21AM
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Well you've watered way too often, and whether or not the cuttings are now dead I can't tell from here, but if you want to try a houseplant fungicide according to label directions go ahead and then be patient, but you haven't given any other info here, such as the size and age of cuttings, and I don't even know where you are or whether the trees are outside or in, what soil mix, etc etc., so can't really help more than that.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 12:51PM
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Hi, I have to apologize - was in a snit over something else when I wrote and it came out sounding really righteous, which I did not intend. Sorry!

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 6:11PM
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Hello! i live in the high rockies we have some incredible Juniperus scopulorum and Pinus edulis here in our arid climate. I am planning on taking a few cuttings to train into bonsai. I have found a few prime specimen but they are kind of on the large side. I was wondering whats too big? The cuttings( 1" caliper) maybe a foot in length. I was also wondering the ideal time of the year to take the cuttings. I have lots of propagation expeirence with other plants. I Have an aero cloner, cloning gel, cloning solution, B1 and everything else i use for fleshy plant propagation. Was just trying to get expert input and advice on my new woody friends!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 12:16PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think you're overly ambitious, thinking in terms of cuttings so large, no matter what your skill set is. You probably need to do some more research or possibly look into various layering techniques. Why not simply collect appropriate size plants?


    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 4:22PM
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Hello A1 this is Cory from the above post(finnally registered). Thanks for taking time to answer my question. I have read many of your posts and have learned tons from you already! You are right, Air Layering is certainly the prefered method for what im trying to acomplish. Im worried the very dry climate I live in will inhibit me from keeping the moss moist for the extended period of time needed to grow roots. It may prove especially difficult in the summer months where we regularly hit 90 degrees. The land i have permission to collect on is about a 5 miles from my house and not easilly accessable. I would love any collecting tips you could offer. Also, I noticed you are from Mid MI. I grew up Mason,MI before moving to the rockies. Always nice to meet another michigander with a greenthumb!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 4:40PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Well, thank you for the kind comments, Cory.

I'm guessing you're fairly new to bonsai, so forgive me if my observations are too simple. Often, collecting a plant like RMJ or pinion pines ends up being more than a 1-day or even a 1 year affair. You may sometimes get lucky & find a plant that has rooted in a pocket of duff so you can sort of just pick it up off the rocks, but more often you'll find that the seed germinated deep in a crevice where dynamite would be a more reasonable approach than a shovel. Sometimes you find exceptional plants that are noncollectable, and other times you find marginally collectible plants you KNOW would do much better if there was a way to improve the roots on the part of the plant you can get to.

Try doing a Google search, using all four of these search words bonsai collecting yamadori mountains. I bet you come up with some interesting information.

It'd hard to offer very specific advice, not knowing the size/age of the plant material you're looking for. You might also add the search words Andy Smith to your search. Andy's name has become known to bonsai practitioners across a large % of the globe because of the 'hard to collect' material (ponderosa pine, black hills spruce, junipers) that he collects and offers for sale. He may have books/articles/videos that you would probably find very helpful.

Best luck. I envy you your access to these trees.

Oh - here's a good tip: If you find collectible RMJ material with nice movement in the trunk and/or deadwood, but foliage far away from the trunk, don't worry about that. You can always learn to graft other junipers (like Sargentii/Shimpaku) to the living veins closer to the trunk after you get the plant established and healthy.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 1:39PM
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