So…my only styled tree has gone to the compost pile in the sky and i’m trying to determine the cause of death. It was a simple shimpaku juniper styled in an intro course of 10/2016. For 2017 i mostly left it alone other than basic watering and rare fertilization and it responded minimally. 2018 I realized that the inorganic bonsai mix required more fertilization, and so i got better growth. I noticed that the media was draining and drying more slowly and it probably should be repotted. I opted to wait until spring, thinking i would do a minimally invasive repot and some more wiring/styling. Spring 2019 had a very nice flush of growth, mostly in the apex, so i felt confident that i could do some work in April as things warmed up. I removed old wire, did basic cleaning/pruning of sprouts etc. The major change was to Jin the apex and reduce some of the more vigorous upper branches hoping to force energy lower on the tree. I’d say that about 30% of the foliage mass was removed with the remainder distributed fairly evenly on the remaining branches. I opted not to repot at the same time.
Within 2 weeks i noticed the lowest branch was browning. This progressed in a matter of 3-4 weeks until the entire tree was toast (brown and crispy).
So, did removing the so much growth (at the wrong time?) kill the tree?
Or is it possible that the roots froze during the winter with the media holding more moisture? I maintained the same overwintering process and it was not a particularly hard winter. But i was more conscious during warm spells to water…which was also a change.
In one stream i know Ryan talks about how a conifer can die during the winter, then flush in spring via the root-stored energy, then collapse.