Styling Suggestions for a Sierra Juniper

(Lloyd Christiansen) #1

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and recently became the owner of a nice, informal upright Sierra Juniper and am requesting suggestions on how to style the top portion of the tree. The top 8-10 inches is rather straight and, as it is exploding with growth, seems to be taking the bulk of the energy away from the rest of the tree. I am considering removing the top 3-4 inches where there is a new candidate for an apex.

How would the tree respond? Are there other considerations? Also, how will it be best to encourage back budding on the lower branches?

Thank you kindly for your input.

(Jonas Dupuich) #2

Nice tree, you have some fun options. Removing the top few inches would be no problem if you want a tall tree.

To get back buds on the lowest branches you’d have to cut back fairly hard on the rest of the tree. I wouldn’t expect back buds on the lowest branches if you keep the tree tall. Grating may be the way to go if you need new interior branches.

If you want a shorter tree, you could remove all but the first branch, create a short jin, and graft - or wait to see if new buds develop - and create a bonsai from just the first branch.

Cutting anywhere along the middle of the trunk would also work, but you’d lose the taper you have near the top of the tree.

(Lloyd Christiansen) #3

Thanks for the ideas Jonas. I was actually thinking of cutting even lower, maybe halfway down, and it sounds like the tree would respond well. Would that be correct?

(Jonas Dupuich) #4

I’d consider cutting incrementally maybe 1/3 now and more later. It’s less shock to the tree and more time to think about how tall you’ll ultimately want the tree.

(Lloyd Christiansen) #5

Will Sierras respond well to cutting the branches themselves back, removing some of the overabundant growth at the tips?

(Jonas Dupuich) #6

Yes, Sierras can handle quite a bit of cutback when they are healthy and growing in good soil. When lots of foliage is removed, say 40-50% or more, there’s a good chance you’ll see juvenile foliage emerge. Some juvenile foliage is OK as it will usually revert to mature foliage, but sometimes the whole tree can go juvenile which can require some time, if ever, the tree goes back to mature foliage. For that reason, incremental cutback is a good approach.