Styling Juniper after repotting this year

I acquired a juniper prebonsai last fall which I repotted this spring in April. It seems to be doing well with new green growth throughout but some minor yellowing/browning to inner branches. For context I live in Providence RI.

  1. is this mild inner branch yellowing normal from light not reaching that area or is it a sign of something wrong with the tree?

  2. since the outer branches are all elongating and putting on new growth can I wire/style this July or should I be waiting until next year to wire/style

  3. any insight into variety of juniper, Kishu vs itowagawa?

Thanks Mirai forum!

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Yes, the yellowing in the inner foliage is from the lack of sun reaching. As long as your tips are showing new growth and vigor and you’re not losing excessive foliage/color, you’re good!

Personally I limit trees to one insult per year. So I’d wait for an initial styling until next spring if it was repotted this year(assuming the tree does well for the rest of the year and through winter)

  1. As @IzzyGray IzzyGray mentioned, this appears to be normal and consistent for juniper behavior. It is essentially shedding foliage which it is no longer relying on for energy and/or is shaded out, creating a loss of energy. Nothing to worry about.
  2. After speaking with 2 professionals about juniper repotting/styling my approach has been to repot and style at the same time. From what I understand, this is a common practice with healthy junipers in a nursery setting. The big caveat is that neither of the operations involve major changes/work. For example, when I wanted to do a structure styling - but also - move a large field grown Itoigawa from a 5gal container to a bonsai pot, the styling was done first (June/July), then I waited until a full year’s growth later to do the repot (March/April). However, the same year I repotted I did a refinement styling as that work was not majorly disruptive. Your results may vary, but I have not lost a juniper to overwork with this approach.
  3. It looks like Itoigawa to me and I am basing that on the new growth being tight and more of a lime green in color. My Kishu and standard shimpaku have larger growth overall and more of a blueish/greenish color.

What are your plans for the styling? Great tree by the way :slight_smile:

Thank you for the advice!

As far as styling, overall I feel the trunk has a more slender feminine feel, so I was going to try to to highlight that. I was planning on using the longer lower right branch as the defining branch. I haven’t decided yet how long I want to keep that branch and if I want it to drop below the lip of the pot or not. I was planning on dropping the branch’s on the left to bring them in closer to the truck and give the tree a more slender feel. I was planning on keeping the apex slightly right of the base keeping the overall flow of the tree to the right. I didn’t include the best photo in my original photo so it might not be visible but the trunk overall leans slightly to the right. I’ll put a better photo in this message.

I plan to create a Shari connecting the two jins on the left and having that run down to the base and up the trunk. Unfortunately the Shari will be hidden in the back when it comes down to the base because the tissue at front of the tree feeds that first large branch on the right and there is a large root on the left of the base that I am hesitant to turn into deadwood.

Overall this is the first Juniper I will have styled so any advice would be greatly appreciated. I very excited to work this tree but think I will wait until next spring to style given I do plan on wiring and changing the structure of the primary branches. Good to know that I can style and repot at the same time in the future though, thanks!

Thank you for the advice! Glad to hear the yellowing of a small amount of inner foliage is normal.

I have a tree that started VERY similarly to what you have. (Picture after a bout of spider mites.)

I’d recommend you take some of the repetitiveness out of that spiral sooner than later. (I don’t have pics of mine in its current you-cant-tell-it-used-to-be-a-spiral configuration handy. Its a simple change but makes a big difference.)

You’ve gotten advice from folks in this thread with MUCH better collections than I have, but I wouldn’t hesitate to clean that juniper (which will improve its vigor)and lay the branches out this fall.

Thanks for the advice, I was thinking that myself but don’t really know how to best go about it. The trunk is solidified to the point it can’t be bent at all. What did you do to take out some of the repetitive bends? Did you chop it back some and regrow apex with a new lead? I’d love to see a picture of what you did if you ever get a chance to take an updated photo. -Mike

This is several years later. Essentially, we used garden hose as padding and thick copper wire with a bonsai jack to bend the spirals. I worked to restore health to the tree which ended up thickening it a little to keep the bends in place when i removed the wire. i dont remember if it was 1 or 2 years before i removed the wires holding the bends.

I repotted this spring and have been feeding it all year. Its growing well and developing some density/runners so will be styled in the coming weeks.

Its possible with the right engineering you could do similar with rebar.

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Thanks! It’s great to see an example of what can be accomplished. Now I just need to be brave enough to try. What time of year did you do the bending?

I’m pretty sure it was at repotting time.