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Thursday, July 29, 2010

A long overdue haircut

Today’s subject matter is a 25-30 year old Procumbins nana juniper.
It was first styled as a bonsai in 1995 from a piece of already old nursery plant. (old enough to have been in a metal nursery pot!)
Procumbins nana makes very good bonsai material, especially older ones if you can find them.  They are pretty tolerant of less than ideal treatment and lend themselves to a wide variety of styles. This is a somewhat unusual one being a triple trunk bunjin style.  For me the bonsai reminds me of a group of conifers growing on a cliffside along the coast somewhere.
I have made the same mistake this year with this bonsai that I caution my students not to make. I have not pinched or trimmed this tree for a year or so now and it has really lost its way. There is no longer any definition to the foliage pads and there is a bit of weak and dead foliage in the interior of the foliage masses.  If these bonsai are not pinched and thinned on a regular basis they can get so overgrown that the inside foliage gets somewhat weak.  That is what has happened here.
 Now I have to do a fairly extensive pruning to redefine the bonsai within. The tree will look somewhat bare after this treatment but in a couple of months should be looking good again. When students do this I call it the bush or skeleton syndrome. They bring a bush to class, we go through and give it its initial shape as a bonsai and then it doesn’t get worked on for a year and they bring it to class and we have to cut it back hard again to its basic shape. It’s the continual pinching and thinning that create the look and feel of age in our foliage masses.
Here are a couple of shots at the start of work, looking more like a bush than a bonsai.
The front.
The back.

Here’s one after starting to trim

And a couple after the haircut

I hope that you enjoyed today's post. Please feel free to post any comments or suggestions for subjects of future posts.


  1. Would you mind sharing you potting mix with me?

    I had a little procumebens nana and Im not sure which soil mix to use. I live near San Antonio, so i receive moderate humidity.

  2. I use a mix of scoria( lava), pumice and redwood compost.
    I don't know whats available in your area but as long as your mix does the following you'll be ok. First off it should have excellent drainage, not have very much organic material, hold enough moisture that you don't have to water 10 times a day and have hard sharp particles in it. In a pinch commercially available Cactus mix will work.

  3. Amazing your so talented. It blows my mind. Where did you ever learn how to do that?

  4. Thanks. From many teachers and many trees over many years.