This is a blue point juniper I got at a big box store for cheap when I was just getting started. At the time I thought the bulbous growth at the trunk was unique and maybe interesting. As I look at it now though, I am leaning more towards thinking it’s just ugly, possibly diseased! The tree has regained a lot of vigor from my chop and pruning, but I am not sure if it’s worth messing with. Is this a gall from some disease or is it just weird swelling from roots choking it?
Could it be a graft union?
I’ve had junipers spontaneously ground layer so, an air layer might be a solution.
My guess is ugly roots from by slip potted from pot to pot to pot with no root work, particularly since it was probably a rooted cutting with one sided roots to start. I think ground/air layering above the ugly roots is an excellent idea. On something like this, after I cut the bark ring, I put down a ring of weed block cloth over the pot, then build a ring of screen to form the pot and then fill with fine bonsai media to promote rooting. The weed block cloth keeps the new roots out of the old pot and the screen air prunes the root tips. I have been using 3 mm hardware cloth, but am going to go to something finer next time since we have a rather dry summer.
A ground layer is a good idea! I was worried it might be from rust or something, but I haven’t seen any of those alien tentacle looking growths so if you don’t think there’s cause for concern about that then I will proceed to experiment/torture this tree. It came with a heavy infestation of spider mites which has long since been resolved.
Some better photos of the knee/gall/swelling
I also did a poorly executed shari on the back. Wish now that I had left a couple of those branches as jins. Its starting to roll over some of it. Not sure how i can correct this
Based upon the additional pictures the roots just appear to be circling and similar roots so I would go with the ground layer.
I would probably carve the upper portion of the shari to taper the top of the trunk. I would not go too close to the live branches to make sure they live. Then let nature take its course.
With regard to the ground layer, assuming that is a springtime operation. I was hoping to repot into a training pot this spring, would it be too much to do both at once? Or would it be best to do that right in the original nursery container and wait another year for repot?
I have another juniper, I believe this one is shinpaku, which has some knobby growths on the trunk. Are these something to be concerned about?
I would ground layer in the current nursery pot unless it is not accepting water since you will be discarding those roots. If it is not accepting water, I would loosen the outer root ball this fall and plant it in a slightly larger pot with some good open soil so those roots can grow. I have done the ground layer by building a ring with screen used for covering the holes in pots, leveling the surface with good draining grit (normally pumice or lava), a layer of weed block cloth, and then bonsai soil around the layer. I have been using a mix of (1 - 3 mm) akadama + pumice at the layer, but I am not happy with the results this year and will probably go back to sphagnum.
I would not worry about the bumps. They are buds that have not managed to become roots or branches. I feel they add a sense of age to smaller trunks and may even help thicken the trunk. The exception would be for a thin, elegant tree where you want a fairly smooth trunk.
The blue point doesn’t have any problems with pentration/drainage so I’ll leave it in and follow your suggestions on the ground layer, thanks! It does have some woody roots coming out the bottom, so I am hopeful that maybe there are some big twisted roots in the pot, that I might be able to do a root cutting like this: