Juniper Bonsai Trees

Juniper bonsai trees are popular with both experienced and new bonsai artists. They can create excellent results and are relatively easy to grow and develop.

Juniper bonsai are among the most popular bonsai trees, for several reasons:

They can be developed into excellent specimens across a variety of styles,
They are hardy,
They tolerate a wide range of conditions.

Juniper bonsai lend themselves to both the classical and less formal bonsai styles. A juniper bonsai tree can be trained particularly well in the cascade or kengai style of bonsai, in which both trunk and branches are required to fall below the base of the tree. The strength of the species, its natural rich foliage and texture all contribute to a successful cascade presentation.

Presentation and Development

The juniper can be trained in a huge number of different ways to emphasise its inherent natural beauty. In all cases though, juniper bonsai are best housed in deep containers to enable strong roots to form and bear the weight of the tree, especially if undertaking bonsai styles such as the cascade.

Repotting juniper bonsai should begin at intervals of every two years for a young tree, leading up to every three to five years as the tree ages. Though this need not be too rigidly adhered to, repotting and the consequent potential for damaging the tree should be kept to a minimum. Repotting allows roots to be trimmed, though this should never remove more than a third of the roots in any instance.

The usual way to develop a juniper bonsai tree is to pinch off new growth regularly throughout the growing season, using thumb and forefinger similarly to normal gardening techniques. With bonsai a little more care is required:

Pinching should be done only when the tip is long enough.
Care must be taken to avoid pinching the miniature tree too deeply as this damages the tree.

Juniper Bonsai Care

Housing juniper bonsai trees indoors is a risky option, and outdoors is much to be preferred as a general rule. Full sunlight is fine for juniper bonsai, but they should be moved into light shade during hot days to prevent any burning of leaves. A wide variety of different soil mixes can be used and any prospective owner of juniper bonsai would be well-advised to research something attuned to their objective.

Juniper bonsai trees thrive in fairly dry soil, but need to be kept lightly watered if there is any danger of the soil drying out. They can be liberally watered if adequate drainage is maintained. Although they are hardy, frost will damage some varieties such as the Chinese juniper, so some shelter from frost is preferable for these types.

The types of fertilizer used, whether organic or chemical and their constituents, are largely a matter of personal preference with all manner of opinions voiced by the bonsai community. Generally though, a balanced preparation is required and no fertilizer should be applied in hot months or until a few weeks after any repotting. Nitrogen feed is particularly beneficial with juniper bonsai trees to encourage richer color.

Common pests associated with juniper bonsai are red spider mite and rust, which can be treated with commercial insecticide and fungicide respectively. Extra care should be taken if having the boldness to attempt bonsai with needle forms of juniper bonsai, ensuring that the branches are pruned regularly to allow light and air to reach any underlying needles and lower branches or else they will die, ruining the effect that the artist is trying to create.

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