Juniper sacrifice branch techniques

Hi everyone, novice in this very rich forum.
Was just wondering if anyone has some detailled info regarding sacrifice branch techniques used for Juniper bonsai culture? Are they the same used for JPB in general or?
Specially for sargent or shimpaku which are very slow in term of nebari and trunk growth…

Will love to hear from others on this one.

In general the approach is the same for thickening with one key difference. Often a short section of the sacrifice branch can be used for creating jin once the desired thickening has happened. To create interesting shapes for these jin, it’s a good idea to wire the sacrifice branches before they thicken too much.

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Thank you for your answer Jonas,
Have you been in Japanese bonsai nurseries specialized in Juniper, shimpaku cultivation?
Looks like the good point with juniper is that we can re-use the sacrifice branch for jin etc. But we also need to work out the general and final picture of the tree in advance or play with yamadori styling type at the end…
I remember that i saw some pic on the net with some shimpaku with ‘antennas’ sacrifice branches escaping everywhere from the main trees which have compact foliage… couldn t find the link but it was a japanese bonsai grower specialize in juniper.
Also noticed that these shimpaku were only cultivated in terracota pots and not on the ground?..not like JPB…? Not even in colanders…?
Will be very interesting to learn more about these different techniques.

Something like that?

The link you shared is a good example of what the jins look like if you don’t wire the sacrifice branches. Getting curves at the base of every branch before letting them run facilitates the creating of more interesting deadwood.

I’ve visited a few juniper growers in Japan. The trees I saw there were similar to the ones in the article you link to.

Junipers can be grown in the ground as well as in pots. I suspect smaller junipers are often grown in containers like the terra cotta pots in the article as that makes it easier to transition the tree into a bonsai pot when the time comes.

Jim Gremel (Deer Meadow Bonsai) is a good domestic grower. His basic approach is similar, but because he does such a good job at each stage of development, the trees look great.

Thank you for the link, not a lot pictures of his shimpaku in development…
Will love to get some links regarding the Japanese nurseries specialized in junipers.
I know that in Taiwan, the taiwanese sargent junipers grow like weeds!

One extra idea would be to wire the end portions of sacrifice branches for interesting shape and then air layer off for new plants when the sacrifice branch has served its purpose. Juniper is a great candidate for this approach.

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That s a good idea! as some very nice twisted shohin junipers come from this technique…
What r the best technique for highest rate of success regarding juniper air layering? Links?
Also, do junipers suit with colander culture way for faster growth rate?

Here’s a link to the process on Japanese maple. The process is similar for shimpaku.

Junipers can thrive in a variety of environments - I don’t know that colanders are particularly effective in accelerating growth. The main thing is to give the roots room to grow and provide lots of fertilizer and water.

I agree with Jonas that colandars may not always promote accelerated growth. I have reduced the number of colanders used for rapid growth when the colander is to be placed on a bench or above ground. For three reasons. First, they dry out fairly quickly. Secondly they naturally reduce root growth by air pruning. Thirdly, they have a tendancy to topple over easily as the growth increases. I do find the colandars very useful to contain the root ball while set in a grow bed or in the ground. They do not dry out as quickly, while allowing feeder roots to run out of the colandar. Lifting the colandar to the bench for wiring,minor root prune or major work is not very difficult. Another benefit to the roots and the plant health is the even temperature of a grow bed or inground setting. In this setting they can be used for accelerating growth.

When using the air layer technique i have noticed improved results with a mix of small grain sifted pumice combined with a small amount shredded sphagnum. This seems to promote retained moisture and beneficial gas exchange. I do use a container or wrap that allows air movement. One example that can be found on the internet is the " Rooter Pot". Also effective is fine mesh, burlap or a small plastic nursery pot with small holes drilled in it to promote gas exchange. Please note that using a more porous container requires more attention to watering frequently.
Effectiveness is also improved by timing the procedure to the beginning of the active growing season for the species. For interest sake, i have attached a picture of the roots that were grown over a period of four months using air layering technique on a Shimpaku Juniper.

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Thank you guys for all your precious info regarding air layering etc…
According to your opinion on colander pot, i m a bit confused… Are colander used for accelerating the growth and multiplication of fine roots by air pruning, which will indirectly have a positive impact on the general growth of the plant?

I can understand your point. Air pruning does have that effect essentially ramifying the root growth and it is beneficial to plant growth. My comment was an indication that when one allows the roots to extend beyond the colander in the grow bed or ground it encourages even greater acceleration of growth for the plant. It follows that the extra growth would not necescarily create greater ramification of the roots in that case. I have chosen to use the colandar in this way to make it easier to control the size and shape of the root ball while still accelerating the growth as much as possible. I use this approach with my Japanese Black Pines in particular. Sorry if my comments created some confusion. I am not using the colanders for air pruning because they are set in the ground.

Ok i see your point now, thank you for the clarification Frank.
So from your experience, the best way to have a max growth is to let “escaping root” ? So max growth might depends on the length and size of root “escaping ones”, rather than the number of small fine roots achieved by air pruning (increase absorption rate of nutrient)? at least regarding JBP culture?
Also one thing i noticed is that i didn t find any source or pic of Japanese bonsai nurseries which train juniper in colander…yet…
Will be interesting to have Jonas opinion on these different points.

Hi Michael - I keep “liking” Frank’s posts because they’re right in line with my experience. Many different soils and pots that let you feed junipers a lot will produce good growth. The main thing is good sunlight and proper overall care. Ground growing is fastest, letting roots run from a pot like a colander into a pumice bed would be the next fastest - possibly identical - and various containers just a bit slower. In general I try less to optimize speed and attempt the best I can to stay on top of wiring, branch selection and maintaining health as those are the things I’ve found to make the biggest difference over time.

Here are some shots from a very serious hobbyist who grows shimpaku, among other varieties, in Kyushu:

and here are some of his deciduous bonsai:

Many thanks for the info and links Jonas. The one from miyasaki was the one i noticed the escaping branch for juniper!
Will pumice fit well in a dry and hot weather if used as a garden bed? Has anyone experimented zeolite to mix with soil yet?

Haven’t used zeolite. Beds of pumice work great pretty much everywhere. I wouldn’t plant directly into pure pumice but it’s great for letting roots escape from colanders or other containers set into the beds.

Whh avoid to plant in pure pumice ?

This is straying a bit from juniper sacrifice branches.

Based on the replies above, it sounds like lots of soils will work just fine for junipers, and the results from any further experiments - with zeolite or otherwise - would be welcome here.

Also, will it be interesting to have multiple sacrifice branches as close as possible from the lower trunk to accelerate the lateral growth?

The location of the sacrifice branches will affect the location of the deadwood and the taper of the resulting tree. Low sacrifice branches will create more taper, but if all sacrifice branches are low, there will be little growth along the main trunk. Trying a few different approaches may yield interesting results.