Japanese Juniper (juniperus procumbens)

The other week while I was at work, one of my associates approached me and asked “Do you do bonsai?”. I said yes and then asked why he wanted to know. He stated that about 12 yrs ago he bought a japanese juniper with the intent of getting into bonsai but never did. He said he just did not have the interest and asked me if I wanted the juniper he had bought. I was a little shocked since this isn’t something that regularly happens especially at work. I then thought for a second and ran the thought through my head that if he bought this juniper 12 yrs ago or so then it was at the least 12 years old (duh! I always sound dumb when I talk to myself LOL) and it would most likely have a  nice thick trunk and branch structure with potential. So I figured what the heck, it’s a free plant and if nothing else it would get planted in my garden. So he brought me the tree the next day and I looked it over the following few days to come up with a game plan on how I wanted to style it. 


Here it is! Just like your common japanese garden juniper it grows low and cascades.


I took the tree out of the standard garden pot to get a look at the roots. As you can see there are lots of dead undergrowth, dead debris on soil surface and the soil itself is a thick mud.


So away goes the debris on soil surface, dead and very low branches and growth removed to get a clear view of the trunk. As you can see there is a double trunk structure and it is nice and thick. The very sharp angle of the trunk bends would make it difficult to bend (if not impossible) and difficult to make this any type of upright style tree. The other issue is that I’m not the biggest fan of cascade style trees either. What to do??


Mud raked off the top of the soil surface and getting ready to 1/2 the root-ball in order to get it in some better soil. Typically you should not prune more than 1/3 to 1/2 of roots on a juniper. At least that’s what I have read and heard from various bonsai sources.


To my surprise, when I sawed through half the root-ball it was basically root free so I was able to remove more of the mud then I initially thought I would be able to. This made me happy since I could get rid of more bad soil and use more better quality soil than I was expecting without root pruning. 


Getting placed in its training pot where it will live for the next few years while becoming stronger and being styled.


The tree all pruned up and in training pot! I will be able to bend some branches and make some more cuts to give it a better appearance in the future. I will use the double trunk in the design and add some nice deadwood characteristics throughout. It will remain a low-lying (max height of 10 inches) tree since I kinda liked the look of it when I was moving branches around and trying to get an idea of what to do. For now its going to regain its vigor after the pruning and re-potting and maybe this winter get some styling done to it. All depends on its health and growth. 

I would say all in all it’s not to shabby for a free tree given to me by a co-worker 🙂

Plus my co-worker follows my blog so I have no choice other than make a decent bonsai out of it or he may make work difficult 😉 

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