The progression of my very first nursery stock (6 years later)

This tree is certainly not the most strict to bonsai concepts, but has been with me for 6 of my 8 years on this journey, and I’m interested to see what the next years bring with it (and happy to hear ideas on where to take it)

This year it will be repotted into an 18"x18" seed tray which is what I tend to use before moving into tokoname pots. to be able to develop nice radial roots, so I won’t be doing much to it style wise beyond basic maintenance.

How it started, a Home depot clearance juniper. It was in good health, but a little dry. The two years were just keeping it alive and getting it to thrive.

Next, I did an online course, that didn’t really “get” it and was too shy to cut off too much. For a couple of years I developed the “hydra” as I nicknamed it.

I let it fill back in, but didn’t do much with it the next year, but did do a root trim on it before it went right back in the nursery pot.

The next step was to trim down more of the craziness, and add a small future jin where the very twisty branch was removed.

I let that grow for another year before this fall, where I became more bold in my cuts. I also began digging down in the soil and shortening the pot its in to prepare it for repotting this year. I will also be swapping to a bonsai soil at that time. This photo is from today.

For the future, I would like to add weight and motion to those top branches, and just refine the apex a bit, and define the pads better. Right now she feels a little too chaotic, but maybe in time she’ll fall into a more ordered design.

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Nice progression. It looks like it is in about a 2 gallon pot. If so, i would put it in a box that about 12" square and 3.5" deep rather than the larger seed tree. Still lots of room for root growth, but not so much that the roots stay cold and damp. In addition, this will be closer to the final pot size.

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Thank you so much for your reply, I will plan on a smaller pot than the seed tray then - it was a 2 gallon.

I’m marveling looking back on this and some of my earlier trees and the choices I made compared with the choices I make now that I know more, and it’s cool to really start seeing ramification on my trees. This one is probably the most extreme example of my shyness, followed only really by my azalea which has paid off really well from the dramatic first styling - though I’ll post that one another day (probably after I let it bloom this spring)

Coming along really nicely! Thanks for sharing this great progression! Really cool to see what you’ve created from Home Depot stock! In terms of next steps, another option could also be an Anderson flat – those can help with root growth. Lots of drainage holes on the bottom for increased airflow.

@Rubymoon Glad you found my box size suggestion useful. I use a mesh bottom in my grow boxes for the same reason @Josh_S suggests. There is a fine line between pruning off too much and too little during the dearly development stages which is difficult to master before you have done several hundred trees… It is better to err on the side of too little since it can always be pruned later.

Thank you @Josh_S - the seed trays I buy are the ones bonsai outlet sells with the gridded mesh bottoms, and after googling, looks like they are one and the same - just a different size. I’m glad to find I can get flats cheaper too! I will definitely look into getting smaller ones though because it will definitely make things a little more manageable with the number I’m planning on potting into them this year!

@MartyWeiser thank you - I’ve gotten quite a few more under my belt now than when I first took to this tree :slight_smile: Though I’m still quite a bit shy of even a single hundred just yet. I’ve got probably 30 that have survived the many experiments, trials, and errors of the last several years, and I think I’m finally finding a good groove in my practice :smiley: