Posts Tagged ‘juniper grafting’

The first tree in this photo essay is a whimsical juniper that used to be a needle juniper. Although my client enjoyed the needle juniper, it wasn’t doing very well where he lived and was getting weaker. I gave him a few options, and he decided we’d ‘change the clothes’ of the tree, so to speak, and make it happier. Essentially, we made it into something we could do bonsai work with, and not just eek along and ‘keep it going’, which isn’t really in the bonsai textbook of desired results.

Three years ago I grafted itoigawa scions on it. It was roughly styled about a year and a half ago, the whole tree created from the original four small veneer/cleft grafts. I have mixed feelings about itoigawa, to be honest, but for very small trees or those with some delicacy about them it does seem appropriate.

Itoigawa, if you’re going to go that route, is a very strongly growing plant (one of my issues with it). Some varieties of itoigawa are so strong that the branches can very rapidly get overly thick, and will soon look rather muscular and out of character with the foliage. So controlling the energy and growth on this type of juniper is particularly important.

Also, at the end of this photo essay, I include a different grafted tree, with a very different feeling…it’s a ponderosa pine that we grafted black pine onto. Not that ponderosa pine isn’t an easy tree to grow, it’s just that my client doesn’t like ponderosa very much…so that too was grafted. Different preferences for different people. Enjoy the photos!


Itoigawa scions veneer grafted onto needle juniper. March, 2012.


Itoigawa grafts growing strongly off the top, needle juniper below. March 2014.


Tree is completely itoigawa juniper now, all the needle juniper foliage has been cut off. Four grafts were used.


After a bit of cleanup, before wiring. October 2015.


Styled tree, October 2015. Three years from grafting.  38″ / 96 cm high.


Details of the branching and foliage pads in the next few photos-

IMG_1998 IMG_1999 IMG_2007 IMG_2018


Our second grafting project was a black pine grafted onto ponderosa. To get a sense of the mass and scale of this tree, the red rectangle on the box is the tab of a handtruck. That’s a big two person box.


After all the ponderosa foliage had been cut off, only black pine remains.


We’d not paid much attention to this tree for a while, and it had grown wildly for several years. Embarrassingly, I needed a jack to bend one of the massive grafted limbs, which, had I been awake, would have needed only a modest wire only a couple years earlier. Sigh. What I get for being an idiot, more work. In any event I’ll likely do a post about this one when there’s something worth photographing. One or two years I think.


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This was interesting and seemed worthy of sharing. This tree, owned by a client, was originally Rocky Mountain juniper. It had some of the worst scale infestation that I’ve ever seen, the Rocky Mountain foliage was so covered with it that it looked nearly white from a distance.

When we decided to graft on it I did warn my client that I was not sure of our success because the stock was weak. I think we did about 8 veneer grafts with itoigawa scions and 6 took. So we were happy and a bit surprised. What happened following that was even more curious.

I should say that we did not graft to get rid of the scale but to get rid of the bad foliage type. I do wish I had earlier photos of this so you’d be more likely to believe me, but none of the itoigawa grafts ever got scale. Not a single one. The itoigawa was even touching the infested original foliage, but the scale never transferred in the couple of years we were slowly cutting back the original foliage.

We also are approach grafting new roots on this tree, just to remove a long, boring section of lower trunk. That’s what the blue tape wrappings are about, holding the approach graft in place. That graft is taking well.

I hope this does not send the message ‘Got scale? Graft!’—for that would be a bit extreme. It was just a surprising benefit of what we wanted to do anyway. Spraying oil in May and June is usually a better (and somewhat less complicated) control for scale…

Grafting top and bottom on a Rocky Mountain juniper. All the pest-ridden original foliage has been cut off after several years of letting the scions grow. None of the scale infestation remains and the tree has a completely new vigor and health. Should be a nice bunjin someday.

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