I’ve long sworn off the idea of working with trees that bite back.
I’ve only seen one Tosho; needle juniper, Juniperus rigida in person.
But they look pretty impressive in photos in the blogs and magazines.
But they bite.
Then I stumbled upon one…interesting….literati…paradoxical…
I’ve never been a huge fan of literati bonsai because they look fake.
The deadwood and shape of this trunk look natural.
Maybe I could minimize the amount of foliage so I don’t have to spend so much time working on it. Might avoid the need for an annual blood transfusion…
So I jumped on it.

A true yamadori, collected and imported from Japan into the US several years ago. It’s a very different tree than anything else in my garden.



Nice “ribbon” Shari, with lots of movement and great scaly texture. Most Tosho deadwood features “burls”, remnants of many small shoots forming in one concentrated area. Ribbon deadwood is equally desirable, though less common in Tosho.

The planting angle had been changed from reclining right, to straight upright. A good decision, but something that usually has to be completed over several repots. See the former soil level jutting up and to the right?

Tosho are timed differently. They are among the last to start growing, so they are among the last to be repotted. From my studies, they can be repotted as the new growth starts, or after the first flush finishes, which is in May. They love heat and humidity. We have that here! Funny aside, as exotic as the Tosho is, this article says they’ve naturalized in BAMA! This one has, at least. Anyway. New growth is starting…time to get to work.

The only real goal for this spring’s repot was to finish adjusting to the new soil level. Roots were healthy and plentiful, so I was able to move to a wider, shallower container. Not the final pot, but definitely a suitable match for now.


Tosho are very thirsty trees, from what I’ve read. The fibrous root system suggests this is true. I used a mix of akadama, lava, and pumice, 3:2:1, to provide good retention, and good drainage. I was able to achieve the final soil level, and secured the tree tightly to the pot, and the pot tightly to the bench! It had grown a very long sacrifice branch to pump up the tree’s health, which also doubled as a sail. In early May, when the tree is really growing, I can remove it.

Early May…




I reduced the tree down to 2 branches, which I wired to give them some rough direction, jinned the stub left from the sacrifice branch, and stopped for the time-being.

Mid-June; one more shot before an imminent haircut:


2 thoughts on “Uh-oh…Tosho!

  1. Excellent horticulture and a nice tree. Very unique deadwood. I’m still researching appropriate timing for Juniper repotting and your article has added a little more information.
    Thanks, my good man!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s