Repotting the Kiyozuru juniper

I purchased this at Chikugo-En-en back in July, and Gary Ishii told me it was repotted in December 2018. So I knew it probably wasn’t pot-bound, but the soil was heavy dirt and sand. This probably works well in LA’s dry climate, but here in Birmingham’s humid climate, I wanted to move it to something a bit coarser.

I am a little early in the year to repot, but will not be trimming any roots, nor completely bare-rooting it. I also plan to strike cuttings from this tree to propagate the cultivar, so I am leaving all the foliage intact. I wired a couple branches that were obscuring the trunk, but that’s about it.

Either front requires me to tilt the tree a bit…fortunately the same tilt works for both sides. I haven’t decided on a front yet, but am leaning more to one than the other. (Dad joke)…

Some pot options:

1. Very small Tokoname pot. This size could work as a show pot, but this tree isn’t ready for showing yet.

2. Deep rectangle vintage Japanese pot by Keizan. Great pot with a lot of age and patina. It makes the trunk look awfully small.

3. This Hokido is beautiful, and a bit shallow for growing out. Maybe some day.

4. 3rd Generation Yamaaki drum pot. Good clay and age, good depth. Not a special pot, but suitable for this phase in the tree’s development. Round pots are always good for an undecided front!

Soil combed out and wired in:

New soil worked in:

Front 1 above.

Front 2 below.

Do you have a preference?

Japanese Black Pine winter thinning

Fall or winter work on a JBP consists of pulling old needles, some new needles to balance the strength, a little pruning to reduce whorls of shoots down to pairs, and then some wiring to fan out the new shoots. This one was thinned, wired, and candle-cut during the summer, and here is the tree before starting the work this winter:

I’ve been battling needle cast in this tree more than any other pine in my garden. I have made some headway with Bionide Infuse, but it crept up again this fall. Here is a shot of the crown, before any old needles were removed:

After removing the 2-year old needles:

Next up is thinning the shoots; where more than 2 are present, reduce to two:

Bottom two branches complete:

After pruning and thinning some of the current-year’s needles:

JBP, ‘Arakawa’ 2019

Here is the previous installment for this tree. I ended up repotting it in 2018, and wiring it in 2019. Here is the starting point:

Reduced the right branches in hopes for a back-bud closer to the trunk.

Trimmed back; Arakawa forms lots of buds, so trimming back took a while to get down to the bifurcation branch structure. before:

Thinned out:

Wiring started:


Wrapped in parafilm:

Scion prepared:


Cut paste to seal out water, then wrapped in parafilm, and then raffia:


Branches tweaked a bit more, and ready for the 2019 growing season.

Two weeks later, and the grafted bud is starting to move, a positive, but not definitive sign yet…

As of 4/1, the bud is 1.5″ long.

And at the end of the month…


I won’t be ready to call it a success until I see a new candle growing from it next year.

Memorial Day weekend, 2019. It is growing well, if not a little unbalanced, and the graft so far is still growing.

Around the 4th of July holiday, it was decandled:

To this:

Notice the graft is also growing at this point.

In early November, here is the graft:

The tree will be ready for some more work this winter, needle-pulling, bud selection, and some wiring.