Looking for direction with a juniper

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Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Fri Apr 10, 2015 2:41 am

You will have to excuse me if I refer to something by the wrong name or terminology, I am very new to tending a bonsai. That said, I'm looking for a little direction or otherwise helpful suggestions that could be given to someone just starting.

This tree was sold to me as a five to six year old Japanese Juniper and I bought it as it is represented. The only difference being that I've placed it on top of a larger pot. I don't plan on this being permanent but I thought it might be worth mentioning, in case it could somehow be detrimental.

The pot that it came in, which I plan on changing next year, has one hole in the bottom and a rock mostly blocking the hole. Water drains through the hole with no issues, but I was wondering if there was some logic to placing a rock there? From what I understand, I will need to fertilize every two weeks and whatever I use should be high in nitrogen. Also, I'm finding that watering occurs more "as needed" than on a schedule.

Pruning and pinching are big question marks for me at the moment because I don't really have any sort of experience gardening and I worry that I'm going to run in to some difficulties at first. I think for now my best course of action will be to just observe but I would love to know which tools I should be acquiring and any resources on techniques would be greatly appreciated.

The day I brought it home:


A week later:






Thanks for looking.

Welldur
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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  JimLewis on Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:29 pm

I'd get rid of the moss on the soil and the large stones. This will make it easier to know when to water. The tree looks as if it could use a good dose of a BALANCED (more or less equal amounts of NPK) fertilizer.

The stone sitting in the drainage hole is to keep soil from washing out with the excess water. Search for "bonsai soil" here to get some idea of what kind of soil your tree should have. But remember that soil discussions tend to get complex -- unnecessarily so, I believe. All you need is a coarse, fast draining mostly (but not entirely) inorganic mix.

Once you are sure your tree is 100% healthy (and I'm not sure of that at this viewing), you will want to start thinning it. But ic can take months to be certain of its health. Juniper will stay green long after they are dead.

When you thin, be careful not to create long bare branches with a tuft of foliage at the ends.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Fri Apr 10, 2015 4:27 pm

Thank you for the advice, Jim. I'll make it a priority to get some fertilizer this weekend and start a regimen. I was thinking liquid, but I'm very open to advice. I'm a welder by trade and have avoided gardening almost entirely until I married my (world's best) wife, last year.

As for the moss and the rocks; that sounds easy enough and I will get on that tonight. I purchased some "bonsai soil" from the nursery when I purchased the tree and I had planned on using that, a small amount of sand and some organic soil. I was hoping to put off making any big changes to the soil until I repot either in the autumn or early next year, however.  As far as thinning goes, I'm not in a great rush to start hacking. From what I can tell it is better to trim a slightly larger branch in the future than to have done so prematurely, or in a spot that you would later regret doing.


I've gotta say, you've got me worried about the health of my plant. I have removed about 15-20 small stems with brown needles in the week since I purchased it. I'm hoping someone will either tell me that this is normal maitenence or that it is likely due to being moved from a humid, indoor location (Nursury) to an outside location with a lot of sun.  I've watered 4 times since Sunday, have had a fair amount of rain in between and temps have stayed between 48 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

After reading your response initially, I immediately started looking for a local bonsai club or society and I ended up making contact with the Virginia Bonsai Society. They seem to be the most active local organization, so hopefully I will be able to make some good contacts.

Thanks again for your response.

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:43 pm

I've finally gotten home and removed the large rocks and moss. I'm very disappointed to say that I think I may have uncovered a problem. It seems that there is a white ring around the base of my trunk. My first thought was mold. After inspecting the soil that was beneath the moss, I got the impression that my soil was retaining water too well. It seems that the soil is mostly organic and not at all like what  I've read that it needs to be. This leads me to suspect that I would do well to repot NOW.

I've included pictures below. I hope they show better than the ones above.


It seems to be a very fine white powder. It is more pronounced in person.











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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  JimLewis on Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:22 pm

That soil is awful. Check back with whoever you contacted in the VA Bonsai Soc., and see if you can visit and take your tree for repotting help or advice. In the meantime, do NOT water until that soil is almost totally dry! Then, water from the top until it flows out the drain hole. Then let it dry again, etc.

These pictures give me slightly better look at the foliage, and I'm not a doubtful as I was. Still . . .

If the brown was all from the interior of the tree, that's normal. If most was at the ends of branches, that's not.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:55 pm

Well that's disappointing. I'm looking in to repotting ASAP and getting the my poor tree out of that soil and I'll do as you've suggested until then.

I'm thinking the soil as it is because this tree came from a Nursury that kept it indoors, in something almost like a greenhouse. I suppose all I can do is look forward but I'm determined to try my best to not lose this tree.

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  JimLewis on Sat Apr 11, 2015 1:25 pm

I'm thinking the soil as it is because this tree came from a Nursury that kept it indoors, in something almost like a greenhouse. I suppose all I can do is look forward but I'm determined to try my best to not lose this tree.

That soil is bad no matter where it was being kept. That soil is the way it is because whoever potted it didn't give a hoot.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Sat Apr 11, 2015 11:20 pm

This pot will go on sale tomorrow and I'm hoping to get confirmation it is not too large for my tree. The smaller pot sitting inside gives a good representation of how much larger it is than my current pot. The coin is a quarter.







I apologize for not having proper measurements.

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  JimLewis on Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:43 pm

The pot will do, but it is a bit large. ALL will depend on the soil. If it is coarse grained and fast draining so it does not stay soggy it should be OK in that pot. How you water and how you keep track of your watering will be important.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  LanceMac10 on Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:54 pm

Find something smaller. Way too deep and way too wide. This would truly look like a "stick in a pot". Better off just putting it back into the same container at repot. Get some better soil, looks like it's in mud. Laughing

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  JimLewis on Sun Apr 12, 2015 2:47 pm

I'm not at all sure he's growing for "looks" at this point. Health may be more on his mind.

If his soil is OK, the pot will be OK.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:30 pm

I appreciate all the responses.

Jim is correct in that I am much more concerned about health of the tree at the moment. Additionally, I wouldn't mind its growth picking up. I've read that a large pot, with good drainage (as was said), would encourage more rapid growth. I would eventually like to repot this guy in a nice cascade pot and style accordingly.

Now that we're talking soil:
I've purchased premixed soil because my experience is limited and I want to get repotting as quickly as possible. The mix that I bought contains expanded shale, sand pebble, aged pine bark and something proprietary that they're calling TURFACE. I've also purchased a 10-10-10 NPK dry fertilizer. I'll be on the look out for a liquid fertilizer when I go out to pick up the pot. Should I wait to fertilize because the plant is likely unhealthy and going to be repotted?

I apologize for all the questions and I know that this isn't supposdd to be a "teach me to garden" section, but I really appreciate all the responses from everyone so far.

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  JimLewis on Sun Apr 12, 2015 4:47 pm

That soil sounds fine. If you get more trees, you'll probably want to start mixing your own, and will be using the same materials.

On fertilizer, the 10-10-10 will be fine, but fertilizer isn't medicine; get your watering in line and get the tree repotted (Soon and with help!). Then you can start to fertilize.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:06 pm

I've found a pot much smaller than the one I showed before. It's still larger than the pot my tree is currently in, however. I've been unsuccessful in finding help for repotting but I plan on doing so today anyway.

My plan is to trim about 1/3 of the root ball back, working from the outside in. The soil is currently moist, not saturated and hasn't been watered in a day and a half. I'm planning on using a spray bottle as needed while working with the roots and watering after the repotting. I will be sure to watch for air pockets but not compact the soil too much.

I typically check my soil once at 5:00 AM and again around 4:00 PM. I'm planning on watering much more frequently after repotting in the proper soil and as temperatures rise.

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Sun Apr 12, 2015 5:49 pm

Stopping for lunch before diving into the actual repotting but here is the new pot.





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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Sun Apr 12, 2015 6:41 pm

Looks like I'll have to get another bag of soil, but the repotting is complete.


Rootball before :



After:



Front:


Back:



Time will tell.

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  JimLewis on Sun Apr 12, 2015 6:54 pm

Good luck.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Welldur on Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:17 pm

Thank you, Jim.

I might have already discovered an(other) amateur mistake that I've made. I did not utilize the copper wire that came with my pots to secure my root ball beneath the soil.


What's my best course of action here? Should I disturb the tree again?

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  JimLewis on Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:55 pm

No. You can just tie a string around the pot and over the soil. If the tree makes it, roots will quickly fill the pot and you can get rid of the string by midsummer.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

Post  Andrew Legg on Mon Apr 27, 2015 7:38 pm

Welldur

That tree looks very healthy to me if I look at the foliage shape and growth. I think you may have a filter on your phone that your are taking pics with??? The colouring in the photos looks altered and it's making the foliage on the tree look off-green, a common indicator of health problems on junipers. This may be what is giving Jim concerns.

Load another pic and make sure you have no effects filters on the phone mate. definitely not sepia mate otherwise everyone will tell ya it's dead!

It's my guess.

Andrew


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Re: Looking for direction with a juniper

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