Juniper Chinensis: timing for thinning and setting the structure

Hi All,

I am approaching my first Juniperus Chinensis and I would really appreciate it if you could kindly share your experience with this species with regard to the right timing for intervening on the tree.

My recently bought tree is 30 yrs old (20 inches) and bushy, it grew freely in the nursery after the main structure has been set. I would like to thin the tree taking away approx. 1/3 of the foliage on each branch in order to prepare it for wiring. I read on the forum that Junipers get strength from their foliage (“do not pinch your junipers!”) the same way Sampson got strength from his hair so I would like to take the foliage off without harming/stressing the tree.

Which is the best time of the year (in a climate similar to that of L.A.) for the following operations?

  1. Thinning: cutting branches growing from the trunk, upward/downward up to 1/3 of the foliage mass - How far can you get with thinning/pruning the tree?

  2. Wiring: in order to create pads

It would be great if you could help me to skim the overwhelming amount of information on the net with a maintenance calendar focused on Junipers physiology: does a Juniper’s life cycle coincides with conifers or is it slightly different?

Many thanks for your help!

1 Like

Sounds like a fun project. Now’s a good time to work on junipers. In general, the main time to avoid heavy bending on junipers is when they are growing quickly - often somewhere between March and June in the northern hemisphere.

The one caveat is that I tend to not do much work unless I have a good idea that the roots are healthy and growing in good soil. After bringing trees home from a nursery, I’ll often repot them in the next dormant season and let the trees root in for about a year before doing major work.

As for a calendar for juniper maintenance, I too would like to see this! Will look to create something down the road. In the meantime I can say that juniper is one of the more forgiving varieties in terms of timings. The main thing is getting the trees really healthy and only working on them when they are healthy.