Kishu or Shimpaku?

Over the years, this post discussing differences among Itoigawa, Kishu, and Shimpaku junipers has consistently one of the highest-viewed of the nearly 350 posts over the 5-year history of the blog.  Kishu and Shimpaku are tricky to tell apart by their foliage, so here is a refresher…

Kishu left, Shimpaku right.  

Kishu is plumper in texture, tighter in growth pattern, and brighter green in color.

Shimpaku is slightly thinner in texture, “ropier” growth pattern, and paler green in color.

Here is another look at the runners.  Kishu first:

Shimpaku next:


Cleaning up a shimpaku shohin

This started out as an air-layer of another shimpaku, made in 2014.  Here it is in summer 2015:
It was pruned back and wired in 2016, and allowed to grow.

Spring 2017, before:


Pruned and wired:

Slip-potted into a nice Shinobu pot:

And mossed up for the show:

Shimpaku Styling 4

This shot from 12/14 shows a happy, full and healthy tree.

In March 2015, I made a decision to rotate everything, by swapping the pines (which faced East in front of the fence) and the junipers (which faced West out in the open). The fence created a very nice, calm environment in which spider mites flourished, quickly, and out of my sight. I was actually planning to repot the tree, and when I moved it, and got a look at the back, here was what I saw:

More trouble! I looked at the amount of Malathion to add to a 1-gallon sprayer, dumped that amount into my 1.5 quart sprayer (oops) and began to nuke the critters…along with 75% of the already-compromised foliage.


So, when I realized the error, and the damage was done, it was time to prune back to what was left. Tough day.


Fortunately, it lived. By August, it was sending out some runners. So while I lost a year, I didn’t lose the tree.

Since I killed off the left half of the tree over the last few years, and greatly reduced the foliage (by pruning…and poisoning), I knew the roots would be a similar story, and so in March 2016, it was time to repot…for the first time since I received it in 2011.


Most important was to get under the left half of the tree and get rid of the roots that were no longer attached to the live upper area, since they were dead or dying, and I didn’t want to have that going on in the pot:





Next repotting, I’ll replace the rest of the soil with a coarser, inorganic mix. For now, this is enough. I do want the tree to keep recovering, and any more would be pushing the limit, I’m afraid.


I also shifted the planting angle slightly to the right, making the left Jin slightly more upright. Next time, I will continue to orient that Jin more upright until it’s more than 45 degrees from parallel to the soil


Along with the repot, I cleaned out sucker growth in the crotches of branches, worked the Jin and Shari with hand tools and a wire brush, unwired what Bjorn and I applied two years ago, and repositioned the primary branches to get them prepared for the final design.

Not much to look at yet, but with two good growing seasons, it could be ready for a detail wiring job.