ChoBonsai Alligator Juniper

So I got myself a Christmas present, well, actually my wife said to get it for myself from her since she would never know what tree to pick out for me. But that is besides the point.
I received this tree about 2 weeks ago from ChoBonsai. Tree looks to be very healthy and ready to go. It is sitting on my bench waiting for spring to come along before I place it into a proper growing container, since this one is very UV damaged.

What I am looking for is information or details on these trees. Things to do and not to do. The bark on this tree is incredible and cant wait to see what I can do with the design. I am already thinking the angle will have to change a good bit from the way it is now.

I might add that ChoBonsai has many trees and they are some great looking trees. I like on his website that you can see the tree in a 360 degree rotation so that is really nice. He is also very accessible and there to help. I will be buying from him in the future as well!

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They can sprout like crazy from the base, the trunk and the crotch of pruned branches. This sounds like a blessing, but can be a real pain. They can also have a tendency to die back if you work a branch too hard. All and all, less robust than some junipers, but respond well to fertilization and highly oxygenated soil.

These grow all over the mountains by my house in northern Arizona. One of my favorite tree species in the world, the old ones are truly awe inspiring.


Great information! Thank you. I will keep it in mind.

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A few pics from a hike today. I’ve seen others with substantially bigger trunks than these, they burl like crazy at the base


Those are some awesome trees!!!

I seem to be doing something wrong with this tree now. I have not done any work to it nor repotted it but it seems to be degrading in health more and more. Any ideas on what it could be and how I can turn the tree around and get it back to its healthy state?

How wet is the soil? How much water is it holding? It looks to be in the field soil. If that is the case the water needs are minimal. These trees are collected in the high desert.

Yes. it is field soil with pumice added when collected. seems to drain well but the field soil definitely holds moisture.

I had a Kishu Juniper that was in declining health and I could not figure out why. I asked Ryan in a live Q&A and he suggested I not water it for a week or more and allow the roots to completely dry out. I left it on my covered deck for about two weeks maybe three. I then began to water it once a week. Fast forward to last month and I repotted it. When I did I found that even with the drastically reduced watering, the soil was muck, the roots were rotting. Tree had bad shin, virtually no roots under the trunk. It will be much happier now in free draining soil.

I suspect this may be the case with your tree. You might think about building a wood box for it. Combing out the edges and removing some field soil and planting it in 100% pumice. Or healing it in via the Randy Knight method. How long ago since collection?

I think you hit the nail on the head. I am building a grow box tomorrow and will repot it and keep it in the shade and see if I can get it to recover. I assume with the repot you still triple rinse after repot is complete?

I’m going to watch the video now!

yes you will need to rinse to remove fines, but if it is pushing new growth you may have missed your window, and just need to control your water

Got the juniper taken out the pot, combed through the exterior roots, and put it in a grow box and should re balance the water to air ratio. Any suggestions on what I might need to do now besides pray? Lol

I believe the box is a little on the large side, or do the roots fill it out completely. if possible w/o disturbing the roots too much, then squeeze some boarding to reduce size?

I actually built the box for the size of the root ball. It fills the box to every edge. :+1:

I am watering carefully when the soils dry out but not fully dry and have kept it out of the sun. Is there any benefit in putting it in the sun even the morning sun at this point? its been 2 weeks since the repot and don’t want to do anything wrong if I have a chance on recovering it. At this point I don’t see any real new growth but the deterioration of the foliage has stopped from what I can tell. Any suggestions on whats next?

I’m worried and want to do something about it, if there is anything I can do. Two pictures show the foliage is still degrading but don’t know if that’s expected to happen until it recovers from the wet conditions it was in. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

What wet conditions was it in? It looks like a root issue.

It was collected a few years ago in New Mexico and just last year brought to south Louisiana and I think the wet humid climate has cause havoc on the tree.