Bought my first bonsai material today!

Visited a nursery I found near my house in Korea. Tons of trees there, super friendly owner, will be visiting regularly and he said I can watch him work (he also styles trees, super excited).

So, I chose this large Juniper here. I think he said it was 9 years old.

I have a couple questions if anyone has some time and can help :slight_smile:

1 - I’m going to follow all the advice I got on the forum here and not repot this into the akadama/pumice mix I got. I guess its too late in the season. So, we all agree, good to keep it in this pot until next year?

2 - That said, I’d love to do something to it since this is my first piece of material. (I have other, already styled trees to look at and water). So, my plan is to do some major cleaning - Cut all underside branches, cut all inner branches. I see some brown leaves/needles so will pull those out by hand I think. Does this sound safe? Should I go the next step and put some wire on it also? Planning to do this work tomorrow, July 8th.

3 - Do you prefer it pointing out to the left? (pot on right) or pointing out to the right (pot on left). I think I might prefer pointing to the right, since I can see the branches really well, but the foilage is all on the other side, so i’d have to bring it around… Hmmm…

4 - Any tips on what cuts/pruning/styling I should try?

5 - I wonder what you think would be a good price for this nursery stock. The price was higher than I thought, but I plant to shop here regularly. Did I get suckered a bit, or not… Wonder what price range you think this sits in?

Thanks to anyone who can tackle any of these questions!


You know, looking at this some more, part of me wonders if maybe I should plant it as a raft style forest grouping. That sounds super ambitious for my first bonsai project though… But, doesn’t this material seem to cry out for raft planting with that long horizontal branch, and using the secondary branches there as a forest? Hmm

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I wouldn’t go overboard with your cleaning at this point since you want to make sure that you still have lots of options when you get around to styling it. Remove the dead, dying, and rather weak bits, but I would leave stronger bits that could be used as part of the design until you style it.


Congrats on your first piece of material!

From the pictures, I like it pointing to the right too. It’s tough to say what a fair price for this material would be as it will be different all over the world. I would compare the price with other nurseries in your area.


Have you removed soil to find the base of the tree? Often the base (nebari) will tell you what the tree wants to do. I have made a raft from a *Juniperus pfitzeriana and had good results. It took about 4 years for it to establish good roots along the trunk. If you are patient and there is no better choice it makes a unique tree unlike any other at the places you will show it. So you need to ask the question and ask the tree, what are we trying to accomplish.
Good luck, have fun, learn lots.

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@bonsaikorea its a nice piece of material, if you were comfortable with the price then it’s no problem. @Bonsai_bob suggested exposing the nebari, I would start there also.
@MartyWeiser suggested cleaning, this can be done. I would only remove only the obvious unusable or extremely weak growth. So essentially a minor cleaning.
@bonsaikorea My suggestion would be this… Its in a tall slender pot and it’s shape suggests that it has been groomed up to this point to be utilized as a cascade or semi cascade in its final form. I would in all actuality not repot into a bonsai pot just yet. I would wire and set structure, let it grow out, prune when necessary and repeat. In 2 years or so it will be really nice with good structure and ready for refinement. Thats when you want to place it in a bonsai pot. This helps to control the growth via the limited container space, combined with the free draining soil that has mild-moderate CEC. This is where the refinement process begins. It may make a good raft if you have the vision, patience, and determination. Just my two cents.

Thanks a lot . @ndavila80 , @Bonsai_bob , @MartyWeiser and @nmhansen for the help, I really need it :slight_smile:

I’ve decided to go slowly, and before doing any pruning etc will just 1) dig down and locate the nebari, and see if that influences a front then 2) try to choose a front based on nebari and trunk movement as I saw in the beginner nursery stock series. I may not cut any branches at all today, not even cleaning.

I’m still excited to maybe try a raft, but that decision will come next Spring or later. One question I have though is: I would not be using trunk for the raft as I have seen online. I would not lay the trunk down sideways. I would be using that existing, sideways going secondary branch as the ‘base’ of the raft.

Has anyone seen a raft done this way? Not using the trunk, but instead using a sideways secondary branch?

Thank you!

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I believe that having a horizontal branch with a forest of trees would be difficult to support. The weight of the vertical trees would push the horizontal branch down to the surface. I have included a photo of the raft I started around 2003.

I am not saying it is impossible, just a problem that needs a solution.


I am in Korea as well. Currently located in Seoul. If you don’t mind, what is this nursery? And where?


Hi, cool to meet another bonsai fan in Korea! The nursery is this one here:

In Chuncheon, where I live.

Are you doing Bonsai in an apartment? Curious, what do you do (or plan to do) with your trees over winter?

Chuncheon is great! Nice area. My apartment has an enclosed patio area, so I just keep them out there, often with the windows cracked depending on the weather, just to keep airflow and regulate temps.

1 Like have you been to the Korean Bonsai Museum? I just made a visit this past week and it was fantastic.

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@zmadamz Haven’t been there yet, but really want to go. I will make a trip out there in August I think :slight_smile: Have you found any other cool bonsai nurseries or show rooms or gardens in Korea? Wish there was a local club or something where we could share tips/calendar status etc.

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@bonsaikorea The museum actually hosts a great club and has a wide array of classes/courses to sign up for (in Korean or English), including single session, 8 week programs, and 3 seasonal courses that last during the fall, summer, and spring. Let me know when you plan on going if you want to meet up there. There are quite a few nurseries in that area, but I am not aware of any other show rooms or gardens.

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Omg, that nursery is AMAZING!!! I’m intensely jealous lol.

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for me don t do anything and don t repotting now. just watering and wait until late winter to repot the tree