Juniper Initial styling dangers

I’ve been curious since starting my bonsai journey to the dangers of initial stylings and junipers. I’ve watched countless videos of masters styling material. They usually start off with a relatively large bush and clean up the foliage and branches to create their styles. What is the survival rate after this for junipers?

I’ve read never to remove more than 50% of the foliage and then some say 20%. What I do understand is that less is best initially but these guys remove what seems like 70-80% for their initial styles. The plant foliage looks great, nice and thin and airy with plenty of layers and a defined silhouette.

Are these trees surviving or are the creations merely demos?

That is an outstanding question! Pines, spruce and deciduous I get. Junipers are still an enigma to me. Mostly, I have had bad results, when I have worked on them at the wrong time of year. To late in the spring mostly. Once the foliage starts growing in the spring, it’s hands off.

I do not take more than a 1/3 of the foliage per year and I have had good luck with that. I do not know how or if some of those junipers survived. Ryan says a juniper’s strength is in the foliage, and I choose to believe him.

There is a period in summer that most junipers can be worked on after the spring foliage has hardened off. I am learning more about that on this site. This period started about 3 weeks ago and have no idea when it ends.

I do know step 1 is make sure you have a healthy plant before starting any work. In these large styling cases, making sure the root system can handle what is done to the top. Ryan said at a Q&A that they take junipers with large mops of foliage from the field and put them in small pots. The foliage drives root recovery. I am not sure if the opposite is true.

Good subject and I look forward to hearing from others.

Thanks for the great response! When you say 3 weeks ago, does that go for everywhere generally? I’m in Florida and I know we have several more weeks of pure sun and high temps. Our rainy season is also ramping up pretty steadily and humidity is generally high. I would like to think these juniper almost have a year round growing season.

I do not wish to convey something which I know little about. I can give you the info I have found and let you decide.

When it comes to this summer juniper working season thing…

Ryan said the only sure way to tell is to try and remove a piece of the cambium. If it removes easily, and comes off in strips, the tree should not be worked on. This is what happens in the spring when new foliage starts growing. The cambium floats to allow sap flow. When that is done, it goes back down (summer) and it becomes difficult to remove. It comes off in little pieces. When this ends, he did not get into that.

Those are things I look for, physical signs/condition because dates can change from year to year. Ryan seems to shed a lot more light in this way on many species. That seems to be at core of your question, when in Florida does this happen. I don’t know when your growing season started, and even that can vary which is why I like to look to physical signs.

Shinpacu design parts 1 and 2 is where I saw this being discussed. I am still sifting through the archived Q&As. This was one of the prime reasons I joined this site was to learn more about junipers from the man who learned from the very best in this area.

There is a Q&A Thursday at 10 am PST. (tier 3)