First Bonsai Creation (juniper)

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First Bonsai Creation (juniper)

Post  jonmiller on Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:45 am

A while back I posted about my first bonsai that were ordered online and got some good feedback. Recently my boss gave me a juniper bush from Home Depot for me to experiment with. So here's my adventures with my first crafted bonsai. (warning, lots of pictures)



























I was thinking that this ^ would be the front, but after seeing the back side I'm not sure which one is better.



This was originally the back, but like I said, I'm not sure.






I was concerned about the roots as I've never done it before. The whole thing was nothing but roots and very little soil. I just took a knife and cut the bottom off and around the sides attempting to preserve the larger roots. I put some orchid medium in the bottom, which is basically wood chips, to promote better drainage. I anchored the root ball to the bottom of the pot and then packed the top with potting soil. Now I'm keeping an eye on it and not letting it get too dry and hoping it doesn't die. Any comments and constructive criticism is much appreciated. I had fun making my first one and am itching to make many more!

jonmiller
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Re: First Bonsai Creation (juniper)

Post  Todd Ellis on Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:23 am

Congrats Jon on your first creation! I hope it grows well for you!

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Re: First Bonsai Creation (juniper)

Post  Auballagh on Sat Apr 13, 2013 3:46 am

Congrats on the first bonsai! The Juniperus procumbens 'nana' it looks like you styled, is great material to start with. I consider procumbens as a near 'instant gratification' kind of tree, as you can see styling results almost immediately. A great tree to use for beginner bonsai classes I have taught.
The potting soil you used will definitely hold more moisture and make it easier to maintain the tree than bonsai soil would. Be careful, though. By next year, the potting soil may not be draining all that well, and junipers don't like to be re-potted with their roots worked on more than every other year or so.
Faster draining, more gritty mixes are certainly more durable in a pot, and will help to promote stronger root growth in your bonsai. But, the downside to that is that bonsai soil definitely drys out faster in the pot when the weather heats up. Embarassed

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Re: First Bonsai Creation (juniper)

Post  fiona on Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:30 pm

Jon, you've done a marvellous job so far for your first bonsai and as has been said, the beauty of these junipers is that they are so good for practising on. You've also done something that many beginners are terrified to do and that is cut off a lot of material.

We'll all no doubt have our "criticisms" but I think there's a danger of putting you off if we go overboard with these. So, let's start with a big "Well Done".

If I were to progress that tree, I'd be tempted to do the following - with apologies in advance for the rubbish virtuals:

To try and get rid of the long thick side spout, I'd be trying to concentrate on the thinner branch that you've already bent upwards. It also seems that you've got a decent side shoot you could develop as a main branch going to the left.



I'd then be tempted to develop it as a smaller more compact tree.



As I say, just what I'd be tempted to do. Others will have different ideas.

Whatever you do with it, it would be worth bearing in mind that you shouldn't cut off too much at the outer ends until you have some good strong back budding nearer the trunk.

Just my two cents worth.


PS as someone who made the mistake several times early on in my bonsai experience, I'd not have rushed to get the tree into a bonsai pot but would have left it in its original container so that it can recover from the cutting. Bonsai, certainly in my climate, is a little by little process.




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Re: First Bonsai Creation (juniper)

Post  jonmiller on Sat Apr 13, 2013 4:04 pm

Thanks for all the comments! I have a thick skin, so I can take the critics Wink Yes I did get a little over zealous to stick it in bonsai pot right away, I didn't know that I should have waited but it makes sense. I think I will just have to have more trees at a time so I'm not tempted to rush each one Razz . That's a bummer about the potting soil not draining well next year, anything I can do to help it before re-potting? I figure I would just not saturate the soil as much next year.

Fiona, I get where you are going with that and I think I like it. I was scared to cut off so much, especially since I couldn't tell what it looked like until I cut it all. I dig the idea and like those tight pads, but I never thought to cut more of that large trunk back. I will keep an eye on it and see if I can promote the tight buds close to the trunk. You're right though, it is a slow process. I guess it's going to teach me some patience Razz

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Re: First Bonsai Creation (juniper)

Post  Auballagh on Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:11 am

Getting the soil right for your bonsai will be a key part to keeping them successfully. You can amend the soil in the pot for the juniper now, by working in more gritty components. Sifted, Turface MVP would be an excellent choice to work into the potting soil to help keep the water draining properly out of the pot. Turface is good, because it soaks up water and then releases it back out over time into the pot as water vapor. To work in more grit, you can just scrape out an inch or so of the potting soil and then pour in the grit amendment on top of it. Then, use a chopstick to slowly and carefully work the grit down into the potting soil.

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