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juniper bonsai

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Species

How To Care For Juniper Bonsai Tree

How To Care For a Juniper Bonsai Tree

One of the most popular bonsai trees is the Juniper bonsai. These coniferous shrubs have over 50 species in its family. The looks of these trees are pretty diverse, with foliage ranging from lighter greens to dark blue greens, and needle- or scale-like foliage. Usually junipers will start off with needle-like foliage and grow scale-like foliage later in its life. Its original needle-like foliage can grow once again if the tree is under some sort of stress, like over watering, heavy pruning or wiring. After a few years this foliage can be removed and its scale-like foliage will grow again.

Their cones are berry-like and very small – ranging from 2cm to 3mm- and are either round or oval shaped. After a year or two, they will ripen, but it is very common for birds to spread the cones through their droppings. Junipers are also commonly used for creating deadwood. 

Identifying Your Juniper Bonsai

As previously mentioned, Junipers are divided into two categories: needle-like and scale-like foliage. 

There are many popular Junipers with needle-like foliage. One example of this is the Green Mound Juniper Bonsai. This Juniper from Japan has short, compact, blue-green foliage. The Japanese Needle Juniper has stinging needles that are dark green and have a white line down its length. Native to North America, North Africa, Europe, and Asia is the Common Juniper. Unlike the Japanese Needle, their needles are small and delicate.

Common Junipers with scale-like foliage are the Japanese Shimpaku and the Chinese Juniper. These Junipers are particularly diverse in color, ranging anywhere from yellow-green, green-blue, and green-gray. Emerald-green, delicate foliage makes the Itoigawa Shimpaku very popular.

Many of the Chinese Junipers look so similar, that it is very hard to distinguish one species from another. Savin Junipers, which originated in North Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia, have either fine or coarse foliage, and range in shades of green depending on where it’s from. Keep in mind all Savin’s are poisonous! California Juniper’s have blue-gray foliage, and are native to -you guessed it- California. Sierra Junipers are insidiousness to western United States. These trees are dark green or gray in color and are pretty dense.

Caring For Your Juniper Bonsai

Junipers are pretty picky bonsai trees. They are very particular about the amount of water they recieve and need lots of light. These trees are also sensitive to frost and cold weather. With proper care, your Juniper shouldn’t face too many problems with pests and diseases, but it is possible for problems to arise anyway.

Positioning A Juniper Bonsai 

Junipers are outdoor bonsai trees and need lots of light with no shade. While some trees are able to survive indoors or outdoors, Junipers are not. Protect these trees from temperatures below 14 degrees Fahrenheit. If your tree turns purplish brown in the winter, this is normal. This is to protect itself from frost. In the spring, its normal color will return.

Watering A Juniper Bonsai

These trees are pretty particular about their water intake. These trees do not like soil wetness, so avoid watering too much. Junipers respond to leaf misting very well as this will boost its air humidity.

Fertilizing A Juniper Bonsai

During the growth season, fertilize once a month with organic fertilizer, or once a week with liquid fertilizer. To encourage growth, use a fertilizer with high Nitrogen levels.

Wiring A Juniper Bonsai

Junipers take to wiring very well. Because of this, dramatic shapes and twists are often associated with the Juniper bonsai. When acquiring a bonsai, you may notice that many Junipers are wired heavily at the start of their lives. While their branches can be bent rather strongly, you must be very careful when wiring deadwood. If the deadwood is old and large, deadwood can be split off and bent into the more flexible parts of the tree. Wire foliage pads when necessary in order to let air and light in and prevent the foliage’s inner parts from dying. In addition to this, dense pads can increase the risk of pest infestation. 

Pruning A Juniper Bonsai

Throughout the growth season, if development of foliage pads is desired, you can pinch or cut off the long shoots that grow out of the silhouette. Trimming these trees like a hedge by removing the growing tips will turn their needles brown and will weaken the tree. Thin out dense foliage pads at the base with sharp scissors. Once a tree part has no buds left on it, buds will not grow again. So, if you want a branch to stay alive, keep some foliage on it.

Juniper Bonsai Diseases and Pests

So long as these trees are properly cared for, you shouldn’t have many problems with diseases and pests. If foliage gets too dense, pests will want to live in it. Junipers are also susceptible to pests in the winter, so you will need to provide them plenty of light and check them for pests regularly. Common pests your tree may become infected with are juniper aphids, juniper needle miners, juniper scale, spider mites, and webworms. While insecticide or miticide sprays or sticks can help, finding the reason your tree became vulnerable to pests in the first place. Fungal rust diseases are another common problem in certain Junipers. The degree at which they are resistant varies from species to species. Yellow-green junipers are not as resistant to rust fungus as green-blue junipers. Some are even resistant to this disease, and others, like Japanese junipers are rarely infested. This disease is, unfortunately, permanent. Brown galls emerge from the swellings that develop on the infected tree. During rainy spring seasons, these galls will form big orange tendrils that are filled with spors that will infect pear trees or other hosts like crabapples. Removing infected parts of the tree does not guarantee that the diseases will not come back. It is best to burn or throw away your tree in the gargabe.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai General Info

Can Juniper Bonsai Be Kept Indoors?

juniper bonsai

Juniper trees have about 70 species in its family. They are beautiful trees with foliage colors ranging from light greens to dark bluish greens. They either have scale-like or needle-like foliage. 

These very popular trees aren’t low maintenance, but they aren’t difficult to care for. Part of caring for bonsai trees is knowing whether they are kept indoors or outdoors. Some trees are able to be put outside in certain weather conditions and then brought back inside when it gets cold. In this article we will be talking about whether Juniper bonsai can be kept indoors, problems with keeping these trees indoors, and a bit on how to care for Juniper trees.

Is Juniper an Indoor or Outdoor Bonsai? 

While some trees can be placed indoors or outdoors, the Juniper is not one of them. Juniper bonsai are outdoor trees that need lots of sunlight. They should be placed in a position outside where they can receive at least four hours of sunlight a day.

 In the winter, you may need to protect the tree from frost. When temperatures drop below 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius), you need to protect your tree by bringing it into a greenhouse or something similar. If you are not able to shelter your tree with a greenhouse, you can try placing styrofoam covers around the tree’s container, which will protect its roots. You can also plant the bonsai, container included, in your garden. Cover in soil until branching. 

Problems With Keeping Juniper Bonsai Inside

The problem with keeping outdoor bonsai trees inside is that outdoor trees need to be exposed to the seasons in order to survive. Outdoor bonsai trees have dormancy periods in the winter that indoor trees don’t have. Dormancy periods are times when bonsai trees stop growing in order to survive in the winter and prepare for the following spring. These periods are completely natural and necessary for the tree’s growth. 

When placed indoors, trees won’t be able to go into dormancy, and they can die as a result. If these trees are brought out of dormancy unnaturally, by human influence, these trees will try to go back into dormancy. If they can’t go dormant again, they can die. 

Juniper’s also like lots of light, and this can be difficult to achieve indoors. Some trees will survive just fine indoors with some grow lights, but juniper’s aren’t that kind of species.

Caring For Juniper Bonsai

Now that you know where to place your tree, we will give you some general care guidelines to keep your outdoor juniper alive!

Watering – Juniper’s do not like their soil to be constantly wet. So, allow for these tree’s soil to dry out slightly before you water. Always check the soil before watering. Misting your tree regularly is also a good idea to improve humidity levels. Also mist after repotting. 

Fertilizing: Feed these trees with normal organic fertilizer once a month during the entire growth season. Use a fertilizer with high nitrogen levels if stronger growth is desired. 

Pruning – If the development of foliage pads are desired, you can pinch or cut long shoots with scissors at the base throughout it’s growth season. Avoid removing all growing tips, as this will weaken the tree and turn its needles brown. Thin out dense foliage with sharp scissors at the base. While this tree takes pruning very well, bare tree parts will not grow new foliage, so be sure you are leaving foliage on every branch that you want to keep alive.

Wiring – The natural twists and turns that Juniper’s used to possess in the wild can be replicated by wiring branches. Juniper trees also take wiring very well, but be careful when wiring deadwood. You can wrap the wired trees in tape or raffia, but this is not always necessary. Wire foliage pads after thinning or else they will die. 

Juniper bonsai trees are beautiful trees that can only be grown outdoors. They need to be placed indoors so that they can be exposed to the elements and go into dormancy. Without a dormancy period, these trees will die. Juniper’s need lots of light during the summer, and cold temperatures above 15 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Let the soil dry out between watering, and fertilize every month during the growth season. With proper care and love, these bonsai trees will live a long, healthy life outdoors!