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For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Posted by krystyna1937 7 (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 15, 08 at 20:51

Lucy,
I've checked FAQ and found nothing on this so I'm going to ask for your advice. I'm branching out from indoor tropicals to outdoor other things. I bought a very nice Juniper procumbens in a 2qt nursery pot. It is healthy with nice proportions, having many small branches and one long one ready for a cascade style. It has clearly been groomed for bonsai by the grower.
I have just a few questions:1) Will it do well in my soil mix of equal parts organic, Acadama and grit (crushed granite)? 2) I expect it to have many roots, possibly thick and tangled. How brutal can I be with root pruning? 3) Should I first move it to a roomy training pot for a year before putting it in a cascade pot or can I go all out right now? 4) What do you recommend for fertilizer? 5) Anything I haven't thought to ask.
Thank you.
Krys


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

I've just realized that lmadsen has a thread going on J.procumbens, but it doesn't really apply to me ... yet. My bonsai books aren't very illuminating either on this particular tree. So I'd still appreciate some advice.
Thanks.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Hi, good questions! If you're sure the last frost has passed where you live, then I'd put it outside (for good) as it should do ok there as long as you possibly keep it maybe in a larger container of mulch in the winter, or planted right in the ground (til it's the size you want and it can manage 'alone'). Your mix sounds pretty good, though I'd probably add some fir or pine bark of around 1/16-1/8" pieces for an organic and the acid your tree will use, and you could also add perlite to as 10-15% of the mix just to lighten it up a bit. You can use a balanced house plant fertilizer, but switch to a quite-low nitrogen (lst number) one in August until you stop altogether for winter. In about 6 wks from now, hack off about a third of the roots if you don't plan to grow it larger (in the ground or a training pot/box). Can't think of anything else except to just acclimate it to the sun over a week or so when you put it out.


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Thank you, Lucy.
A quick follow-up, please:
I gather then that it's too early to transplant it to a bonsai pot, since I don't want to grow it any bigger? It's about 17" long 4" tall and about 8" wide across the center. I'm thinking of putting it in a cascade pot that's 8" tall and 4" in diameter. If that's too tight, I'l have to find something of that style but roomier.
I live in the mountains of NC at about 2,000ft elevation and at this moment we have 28 F thanks to a sudden frigid front from Colorado that arrived two days ago. But we expect regular spring temps to return later this week. It will live on my balcony and I intend to move it out there by noon today.
Thank you again.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Don't cram it in any pot, but a cascade that it does fit is perfectly ok. Just remember, the 'fat' trunk is what makes a bonsai special and if you plant it in the ground for a few years, it's the fastest way to make that happen, and you can always work on the branches and foliage otherwise to keep them proportionally smaller as time goes on. But it's your choice.


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Lucy,
Thank you for all your excellent advice. I will move it to a roomy training pot but I cannot plant it outdoors because I live in an apt building and my balcony is it for outdoor stuff.
Thank you again.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Here's a picture of the plant in question.
The yellow line on the table is a 12" ruler. The pot on the left is the one I had in mind for transplanting but I now agree with you, Lucy, that it's too tight.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Looks great, though I wonder if it's been planted too deep in the pot (hard to tell from the picture of course, but you generally see them sitting a bit higher - the edge of the pot shouldn't block your view of the nebari.


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Lucy, you were absolutely right. I took it out of the pot and found that the soil comes right up to the needles. There are even roots along some of the branches. This picture is looking up at the bottom of the longest branch. Having come this far, I'm committed to forging ahead so I'm going to plant it in a big azalea pot and I'll lift it up a bit above the soil surface.
This is turning into an interesting project. Stay tuned.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request, more pictures

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Hi again.
Well, I got my act together and put my Juniper into an azalea pot 14 1/2" diameter. In the process I found that there was a second branch about half the length of the longest one. I was able to split them so that they both had plenty of roots and so this second one has gone into that cascade pot. Both are looking very good. The rock you see here is propping up the plant and will be removed later. I'm hoping that in a year or two this tree will have a much thicker trunk. Should I go on to wire it now or wait until the trunk grows? All suggestions, criticism, warnings, etc are most welcome.
I'll post the other specimen in a while.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request, second juniper

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This is the smaller part of the plant, now living in the cascade pot.
I think wiring will have to wait until the plant settles into its new home. The rock is there to help stabilize it and will be removed later.
I had fun today.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request - Wow

I had no idea this upload would be so huge. Can't imagine what happened, but at least you can really see the details here!!!
Cheers,
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Visually speaking it seems like the larger part of your plant would look better in the tall pot, but I know that is the one closer to reaching a mature look so you want to give it more room to grow. I have seen plants the size of the one in the azalea pot in cascade pots like you have though. Lucy would probably know better, but if you want your plant to cascade down the side of the pot, it might be better to move it closer to the edge of the azalea pot so that you can start training the branches down. Where it is now in the center of the pot, it seems like it will be difficult to get the right visual proportions for when you move it to the taller pot. I have never done a cascade - only a windswept look (probably not the official name of that style), so I could be completely wrong. It just seems like it might be easier.


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Hi tanyag,
I think your suggestion is very good, but I wonder if I'll disturb the newly planted roots too much if I dig them up again?
I'm away from home right now and won't have time to do anything before this week-end. However, I would really like to start the wiring process, so I'll probably give it a try. If you have any special tips on wiring, I'd be glad to have them.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Leave it alone til about Nov. which will be far less stressful for the trees as they'll have gone dormant by then.


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Ditto what Lucy said. I wasn't thinking about the fact that you'd already repotted it. As far as wiring goes, it's still a technique I am working on. I do know that when I've worked with Juniper in the past, it can be quite pokey! It's hard to wire wearing gloves, but if you don't wear them, you'll get a lot of pricks. Maybe Lucy has some suggestions for that. I found some very thin flexible gloves at Wally World. They have the grip bumps on the palm side and are thin nylon on the other side.


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Well wiring any evergreen can be frustrating as they tend to spring back after the wire comes off, and you can end up repeating it over and over, but if you are creative, and depend more on careful pruning, using weights, or bonsai jacks (where a little brace thingy is put on the branch and parts gradually tightened while others bend) quite a lot can be achieved.


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Hi Lucy and Tanyag,
I happily agree about waiting until November. I don't much like wiring and try to use weights and various jury-rigged guy wires whenever possible. I'm going to get some "brace thingys" before the fall. I use surgical gloves when transplanting but I guess they'd get punctured by a juniper. Incidentally, here's a tip for protecting the bark when you're anchoring or otherwise tying down branches etc: Thread your wire through a piece of plastic tube from an oxygen tank such as patients use in hospitals or at home for lung ailments. My husband happens to have emphysema and uses oxygen during exercise. I save the discarded tubes and they're just the right thickness and very flexible. However, I doubt this would work for normal wiring of delicate branches. In this case you'd still need to wrap the wire (or branch) with raffia.
Thanks for all the good advice. I feel much better already:-)
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Well, It's been two weeks since I split the juniper into the two pots in the photos above. Three days ago I noticed they have turned brittle and prickly. They were soft and bright green. Now when I touch a branch a piece breaks off.
Are they dead?
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Krystyna - how did you split the tree (which parts)? They do sound dead to me. What else have you done (or not) since the split re mix, lighting, water and location?


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Lucy,
I cut down through the rootball (carefully) having first teased out the roots and confirmed that each part would have plenty of roots, the smaller one less but enough, in my opinion. I watered them into their pots and left them alone on the balcony. The weather was chilly, the nights more so but no frost. It is often quite windy here.
I was concerned that the big plant might be getting too dry owing to the fact that its roots were close to the surface and water would be draining away to the deeper part of the pot. I watered them again after about a week.
On April 30th I pinched off most of the tips in an effort to keep the branches compact and gave them diluted azalea food from Miracle Gro (for acid). Perhaps this was a mistake.
On Sunday afternoon I first noticed the brittle needles but they may have already been that way for two or three days without my noticing.
So that's my story.
I'd really like to know what went wrong so I don't repeat the mistake but I'm not terribly upset about losing these two. It's all a learning process.
I welcome your good advice.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Well, I'm glad you're philosophical - it happens to all of us and sometimes it's nothing we can trace, or change. It may have been better to do the job in November, when the tree would be dormant (it's more important for conifers) and the wind where you live probably wouldn't matter normally, but in this situation, unless you misted a LOT from immediately after the repot (small conifers need it then, if not otherwise) it probably didn't help much either. The fert. probably didn't hurt, though having pinched on Apr. 30th may not have been the best thing when followed up by the repot so soon after. If you were concerned about the roots, good misting would also have added water to the shallow roots, while sparing the deeper ones that might not have needed it as much, though if you are now using a mostly gritty mix, and it's windy (sapping moisture in general), maybe waiting the week was too long a wait (if normally ok). You notice I'm qualifying everything here, because it's hard to pinpoint any one thing that made 'the' difference, but as you say it's a learning experience, and there is no lack of junipers out there!


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Lucy,
Thank you very much for your lucid analysis of my situation. I'm going to keep a copy of it in my bonsai notebook as a reminder for the future.
Since I've always concentrated on tropicals which are easy and can move indoors with me for those boring winter months, I find "outdoor" trees much trickier and challenging. Slowly, I'm also learning that the difference in the climate between the mountains of Western North Carolina, my new home (altitude, dry air, breezy summers), and Georgia where I lived for many years (humid, very hot summers), is rather more dramatic than I had expected. It is time to pay more attention to indigenous trees. If you are ever in Asheville, do visit the Arboretum. They have a large collection of bonsai trees which are all from this region. This decision to concentrate on indigenous trees has produced a unique, magnificent collection and it should inspire all of us to grow what is already acclimated.
In my humble opinion.
Krys


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RE: For Lucy: Juniper procumbens advice request

Krys, 'outdoor' trees normally are easier, as you really don't have to fuss as much - nature takes care of most needs and all you do is protect them from extreme weather in different ways, but transitioning them to being out can be tricky. I'd love to come to NC; and you should get to Montreal, that has a fabulous home for big, old (serious) bonsai donated by China years ago. I'm not there now (home town tho'), but have seen it.


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