Itoigawa cuttings after seven years

I thought it might be of interest to see the progress cuttings can make over a period of time. These two cuttings were taken by my son in 2013. I have raised them since that time in a succession small pots up to the current grow box. They are Shimpaku " Itoigawa" smaller foliage variety! For reference the current size is approximately 1 1/2 inch bases with 24 to 30 inch height. Size would be larger but they have been thinned, wired and pruned for development over the past seven years.


I’m currently growing SJ cuttings (and also soon-to-be small SJ air-layers).

You have a much longer growing season and warmer climate. Will be interesting to see the difference. Will need to adjust for juniper type and growth rate though! Itoigawa are normally considered vigorous growth types.

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They’re looking great Frank - now get some crazy movement in there!

Ah yes! On to another step in the progression. I tend to move slower than some in this respect. Now which ones will be jin and which will be branches? And, how will that turn out?
Maybe I should thin them before I decide, have a clearer look at the overall.
I know, I will wire the extensions and crush them for really crazy trunks to air layer off!
Something like this! That should give me more time to think about it!


I aim to get as much movement as possible in the trunk and branches and simply jin the lines that aren’t as interesting once they thicken for a few years. At this stage it looks like the main portions of the trunk are in place, so more of the work may focus on the branches. Also, it’s past time to start on the shari work to make sure the trunks aren’t round tubes and instead take on interesting shapes as they continue to thicken.

I wish I had a few dozen like this - it’ll be a super fun tree to develop!

Good advice, thanks Jonas. I have planned a shari route between areas that larger branches were removed and intend to begin connecting the dots with thin bands in the beginning! this tree is about ten years old. The thicker portions of the trunk are approximately 2 1/2 inches. The tree stands 14 inches at present. At what stage would you begin the Shari normally?

When they’re pretty young. You can remove the bark along one side of the cutting as soon as it’s rooted. Doing so will encourage twisting the cutting when it’s wired as shari along one side of the trunk would be boring. It can be done later too (anywhere a few years in is fine) but more care is needed once the early bends and twists are set.

Also, the shari needs to be re-opened regularly, maybe every year or two, to prevent it from healing over. Forcing the tree to grow with a narrow lifeline will also encourage it to thicken faster which will yield an interesting trunk in less time.

That’s the idea anyway!


Ah now I get what you were referring to! Never tried that approach. The theory sounds ok, I would love to see if the results vary naturally with the wiring or remain somewhat uniform.
I am used to planning the appearance and position of the veins to complement the design.
Obviously working with older material with other variables already in play.
I think I will experiment with some cuttings in the 2 to 3 year old range. Not too many though, sounds like a lot of continuous work.

Perfect. I’ve seen lots of trees developed in Japan this way. Here’s an example from Urushibata’s garden.

Neat. That is a nice look. I can see they progress with stripping the surface of the deadwood for a natural look as well.
I went off to the grow bed and found 10 or 12 about the right size that could be worked with and repotted at the same time. They are 12 inch whips of Itoigawa. Will give it a try this fall so the wiring and twisting is not so risky with the new spring growth.

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Very cool thread. I wish there was some tennis balls or beer cans in the photos for reference as I’m having a hard time picturing the sizes here without a contextual reference.