Caring For Your Juniper Bonsai

The classic Juniper bonsai is a natural hybrid species of Chinese Juniper. Since some Junipers can live for 200 years, caring for your Juniper Bonsai can give you a beautiful plant that will last a lifetime (and then some!)

The Juniper is an evergreen coniferous shrub which can be found in mountains and forests everywhere in the world. Their needle like leaves turn scaly as the tree matures and have a blueish green to light green shading with an occasional silvery variation. There are over 50 species of Juniper, many of which are long lived, but some only live for 2 or 3 years after being turned into Bonsai plants.

Your Juniper Bonsai is relatively easy to care for as it is pretty much disease free. It thrives in full sun bu must be protected from the hot midday sun. In cold climates you must also protect your bonsai from frost.

If you plan to grow your Juniper Bonsai indoors, make sure you have the appropriate lighting. These plants also need a bit of a humid environment so misting can help. Be careful when watering and be sure that you water until soil is most, but don’t leave standing water in the pot as root rot can kill these trees easily.

Like most plants, Junipers benefit from fertilization and they should be given a high nitrogen fertilizer every two weeks starting in spring and running through mid summer. From midsummer on, give them a low nitrogen fertilizer alternating with an acidic fertilizer.

Bonsai plants in pots need to be repotted every two years until they are about 10 years old. It’s best to report in the spring, using a slightly larger pot. Be sure to use free draining soil that includes clean grit or stone so alkaline deposits are kept from harming the Juniper.

Shaping your Juniper Bonsai is what makes the tree unique and can be accomplished with careful pinching throughout the growing season. Be sure to use only your fingers to pinch and never use scissors or other tools which will cause the ends to turn brown. Make sure you don’t pinch off all the greens as you will need enough foliage to protect the branches. Avoid pinching the first leaves that sprout and make sure that you develop a gradual pinching routine leaving a reasonable amount of time between pichings.

With proper care, you will be able to enjoy your Juniper Bonsai for a long time. One interesting fact is that Junipers keep their shape for many weeks even after they die.

Lee Dobbins writes for Bonsais at Garden where you can learn more about caring for your Bonsai.

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