Issue with Juniper Procumbens

My 2 most recent Juniper re-pots (both Nursery Stock) seem to be struggling. I have not wired and the larger one I tried to prune as little as possible to allow the roots to recover a bit and practically zero pruning on the small one (which i don’t think is actually a procumbens (no fertilizer for either). Granted I’m in Florida and rainy season is in full swing, so between the cloud cover and high humidity most of my plants have needed very little watering (despite a very well draining mix using akadama, lava rock and pumice). The 2 others I potted the same way and even after winning a long battle against mealybugs, they are bright green and seem to be doing much better. Is it just because of the time of year I chose to re-pot? I have 3 more to re-pot and was curious if I should wait. Also, is there a preferred schedule for going from Nursery Stock to Bonsai (i.e.- leave in nursery pot to do initial cleanup and determine my front, then wait xx days/weeks/months to recover, then re-pot and wait xx days/weeks/months to recover, then wire ,etc…)

Ps - the stand is usually closer to screen I had to close the storm shutters for a few hours because of the recent Hurricane. When the weather is clear they get several hours of direct morning sun.

Not sure what the seasons look like in your area, but junipers should be repotted in spring, when they start moving, if they are in active growth repotting stresses the tree to much, thus problems and dieback. I always repot them just when they start changing color from the winter brownish/purplish to green. Never had problems.
I’d put them in shade for a few weeks and wait for them to recover.

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How much root did you remove? How much soil did you remove? The small one I think is dead and the larger one doesn’t look good. The best practice I think is repot in early spring with maybe some light pruning and style it the following year. I am to impatient for that and have repotted and styled procumbens in summer many times without issue I live in a much cooler climate than you do. I suspect you were just a little to rough with the roots.

If you repotted them recently, then that’s most likely the culprit and you’ll need a more than a spoonful of luck to have them survive. Always repot in spring when growth is strongest.

As for the schedule of when to do work, the general idea is to do one major thing a year and then leave it alone for the rest of the year to recover. What work to do is rather genus/species/stage of development subjective.

For junipers, their strength is in the foliage. That means its the green foliage that is the battery that you want to max out on so the tree has the energy to heal and regenerate other work. So if you lay off foliage work, maintaining robust foliage, then repot in the spring. The bushy foliage will regen new roots. Leave it alone for a year. Then next year style away.

Make sure you only work em when you need to. Although they say do only one major thing a year, its great for the tree to have little or no work done some years just so they can do what they need to do without always having to recover from our hands.

Your suffering trees are in no state to be worked. They need protection, and easy care to recover

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Thank you all for the advice!

The large one I pruned only about 20% of the roots despite being in a 5gal. pot, it didn’t have nearly as much root growth as I usually see which typically borders on being root bound. I purposely pruned only what was dead/dying or completely shaded, so it could focus its energy to beneficial foliage. I wasn’t planning on wiring anytime soon.

The small one I took out of the tiny plastic pot and planted with all the roots intact (pruned 1-2 small branches that would have been laying on the soil) since it was going into a larger pot.

It sounds like the general consensus is that they should have been re-potted in the Spring. In which case I will leave the other 3 in their nursery pots until next Spring. Anything other than keeping them watered that I should be doing to them between now and then? They appear to already have some fertilizer granules in the pots so I shouldn’t need any fertilizer. I’m really excited about the tall one which will likely continue to be trained as a leaning style. Then the one with the little berries does this cool cross at the base then both branches make very dramatic turns.

if youre not going to repot next spring then you can style the healthy ones.

the hardest thing for me when I started was to just be hands off. Take time to appreciate where they are at their current stage. 99% of the time, a tree will only be better off if you err on caution by going hands off rather than going to hard and… killing these beautiful living creatures.

Bonsai on