I began work on an old San Jose juniper bonsai this week. The tree had been trained as bonsai years ago but never reached a refined state. For the past several years, the tree was watered and fed but not pruned or repotted.
San Jose juniper
Before making any decisions about how to style the tree, I begin by removing the dead foliage and trimming away unnecessary shoots. Here’s the cleaned up tree from the front.
And from the back.
This is where the main work begins. Because the tree hadn’t been repotted in several years, I wanted to get the tree into some fresh soil. After beginning work on the roots, I found that half of the rootball had been bare-rooted the last time it was repotted. This made the work relatively easy. I removed the old soil, adjusted the angle a bit and planted the tree in an unglazed pot.
Where to go from here? The main option I’m considering is grafting shimpaku foliage, either kishu or itiogawa. Although San Jose foliage can be nice when kept in its juvenile form, I think the gentle movement of the trunk could be a good fit for shimpaku foliage.
Subscribe to Bonsai Tonight
New Posts Delivered Every Tuesday and Friday
Paul M says
Fairly new to bonsai andI have a 5inch tall juniper about 7 yrs old that is close to a dead ringer for this one.I’m going to wait to see what you create to give me a direction to go.I need to thicken the lower trunk or bury it ?
Jonas Dupuich says
Good question – it’s hard to answer without further info. Can you post a pic and your plan for the tree at: http://ask.bonsaitonight.com ?
John Miller says
How much cold do you let the roots have this winter after repotting at this time?
Jonas Dupuich says
Hi John – I don’t typically need to protect junipers – or other trees – repotted in fall as my winter is mild. I’d consider protecting more developed trees if the temps dropped into the mid-20s or stayed below freezing for more than a day.
Before grafting read this.