Wednesday, 22 August 2018

My Juniper is Half Dead

The internet is full of stories of dead Juniper mallsai, many of them victims of the mistaken belief that they can be kept indoors. This is not one of those stories. I found a way to kill half my tree even though it was living outside.

Despite my reluctance to work with conifers, I currently have three Junipers in my collection - two small Juniper Procumbens Nana which I tend to neglect and a much larger Juniper Mint Julep which I foolishly bought as a candidate for Reddit's nursery stock competition though that tree was totally unsuitable for use as "instant" bonsai.

My younger Procumbens Nana is a tree which I propagated from a cutting when I entered my club's new talent competition a few years ago.

April 2018 - unstyled

Until recently I'd never done any work on it at all. Then in April I saw a lovely little Juniper bonsai on Reddit. When I heard that it had been styled without wiring I was inspired to see if I could create a small Juniper bonsai the same way.

Unfortunately when I examined my tree I discovered that its structure was totally unsuited to clip and grow, so I did a little pruning and some relatively heavy wiring. Then, extremely embarrassed by the result, I returned the tree to its home, determined that I was not going to write about the mistakes I'd made.

April 2018 - after bad styling

Over the course of winter I noticed some browning on the foliage and after a while it became obvious that something had gone horribly wrong. As you can see here, one side of the tree had died.

August 2018 - half dead

Luckily the other side is still alive and showing signs of new growth.

August 2018 - new growth on surviving trunk

Today I removed most of the dead trunk, leaving a little behind for a possible jin, while leaving the other side untouched aside from removing the wire.

August 2018 - cut back

So what went wrong?

Looking at the base of the dead trunk, there is a ring where the bark looks different from the rest. I suspect that while wiring it I accidentally stripped the bark and cambium, cutting off all life support to that trunk.

So now what?

Perhaps I'll let it grow back for a year or two before trying again. Or perhaps I'll finally accept that I'm not a Juniper person and put it on my club's raffle.

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