This little kishu is getting very bushy. I’m planning on sitting down and thoroughly cleaning it this weekend. However, two of the branches that make up a big portion of the apex still have leaves/scales on them.
Can I or should I put wire on those branches over the scales? Will wiring in the middle of growing season damage the branch?
Edit: the big branch visible lower left is just over a quarter inch across for scale. The branches I’m asking about are half that.
Where are you located? I ask because I can only provide feedback based on my location, so take this with a grain of salt if you are in a vastly different climate. I am in SE MI.
I would not do any structural wiring at this time. I have had good results with making dramatic structural changes early in the spring and late in the summer (April/May, or August/September, for me). Now, if what you are asking about is setting secondary/tertiary branches on a structure that’s already set, go for it. In my experience if the tree is strong, wiring and placement of smaller branches can be done at nearly any time of the growing season. One important nuance - if you are in a warmer climate or are experiencing high temps/full sun, your newly positioned foliage may be more likely to burn. Proper aftercare when moving foliage on a juniper is key.
The bit about the scales - in short - if the tree is unhealthy, don’t stress it more with wire. Is the scale infestation widespread or localized to a branch? I ask because if the tree is showing ill health overall, don’t wire it at this time. Focus on getting it back to full power and getting rid of the scale. If the overall health is not an issue, or is localized, wire it up. The scale I see in my garden is best knocked down with a systemic so wire over/around the scale is of little concern.
Thanks, Raydomz. I guess I wasn’t clear, by scales I meant the green scale-like needles/leaves, not the scale insects. I’m trying to figure out if I can wire over some of the foliage.
However, based on your comments about timing, I think I’ll wait till Sep/Oct to wire. I’m in eastern Washington state, climate zone 7a, so probably hotter summers and milder winters than you.
I will go ahead and do some cleaning and pruning now, though. It’s getting way too dense and there are a couple clumps of juvenile foliage.
Doh! I’m so sorry Chad. When I read your post and the. Looked at the photo I only saw two little potential scale insects and didn’t think two about what you meant lol.
To answer your actual question - you won’t hurt anything if wire comes into contact with the foliage but I would caution that you don’t want to wire the tips too tightly. I tend to wire a little loosely around any growing tips that need positioning - the wire is securely applied further up the branches of course.
Care to share a photo of the whole tree you’re working with?
Here it is as of yesterday morning after heavy pruning.
And here’s an older picture, from back in April.
I still plan on waiting until September to wire it. It may get another trim before then. I’m still learning to leave my trees alone, rather than doing something all time.
The goal of this pruning was to try and get a primary structure set by removing unnecessary clutter, and to open it up so it would stop producing juvenile foliage.
Edit: I just noticed from comparing the photos thst I had cut it back to almost the same silhouette as it had when I got it, except for the 180° turn. That wasn’t intentional. Mostly I was just trying to clean out all the weak growth, crossing branches, crotch growth, and so on.
Thanks for the photos!
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but removal of a substantial amount of growth on a juniper can lead to the tree producing the juvenile growth that you are looking to keep from growing. Opening it up is excellent for light and air flow, but I would expect a little more juvie growth to appear this year/next year. Try not to be bothered by it, over time it will transition out of that phase as it builds up strength again.
Bonsai is a finicky hobby. For a large part of the year our trees may be asleep, put away, etc - but then spring hits and that excitement hits us all. Work work work, repot, wire, clip, water, fertilize work work work - it’s hard to break the habit. Not breaking it can lead to killing your trees with…love.
In your case, you’ll want to learn to love the stages of growth that a juniper goes through. And you’ll want to get comfortable with the fact that it may progress a little slower than you want, but the patience is worth it as you’ll have a living tree and not a collection of mishaps. We’ve all been there.
Thanks for feedback, Raydomz. We’ll have to just wait and see, now. Even if I do get juvenile foliage this year, I think the tree is better structurally now. There were forks with half a dozen shoots growing from a single point, and well, it just looked wrong.
I do think the tree is telling me that it wants to be a shohin, though.
You’re absolutely right - even if juvenile foliage appears, it’s only temporary and the structure is in a better place. Years from now you’ll be happy you took the step.