How To Take Care of A Juniper Bonsai Tree?

Juniper bonsais are outdoorsy and love bright light

How To Care For A Juniper Bonsai Tree

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Bonsai is the ancient Japanese art form of growing trees in small containers in a manner that they look their small and prettier version of themselves.


Junipers are a popular bonsai choice because of their attractive foliage and seamless care requirements. The whole genus comprises about fifty to seventy juniper bonsai species within the Cypress family. Often unaware of how to care for a juniper bonsai tree, people hesitate from growing it.


But you should know that broadly all juniper bonsais have a bushy style with flexible branches and trunks. Hence, it is easy to train them. You can use wiring and shape them to remain in their bonsai form. In addition, they adapt to several environments, provided you give ample sunlight and water them frequently.


In This Article:


Can You Grow Juniper Bonsai Indoors? Which Is Better – Indoor or Outdoor?

To learn how to take care of a juniper bonsai tree indoor or outdoor, you must first know whether to grow them inside the house or outside. Location means everything! Typically, Juniper Bonsais love the outdoors.


Almost all the bonsai varieties love the outdoors. They thrive in direct, bright sunlight and seek sun for at least six to eight hours daily. Moreover, the Juniper Bonsais are cold hardy, and frost-tolerant. They can withstand a drop in temperature to around -10 degrees Fahrenheit, sans any protection.


However, that does not mean you cannot grow your Juniper bonsais indoors. You can have them indoors. But, it is often challenging to provide them access to the required sunlight, temperature, and humidity, inside the house.


Caring for Bonsai Juniper – At a Glance

Scientific Name Juniperus Chinensis
Ideal Location The plant needs the sun for at least six to eight hours daily. So, plant them in a spot where they can receive ample light.
Soil Type Well-draining soil that allows water and air to reach the roots. The best soil for juniper bonsai is an amalgam of organic potting compost, grit, fine gravel, or pumice.
Watering Junipers prefer slightly dry soil, but they do not tolerate the dryness for long. Regular watering when the soil feels dry is ideal for juniper bonsais. You can also mist the leaves of your juniper bonsai as the plant loves humid conditions.
Temperature They are hardy, and frost-tolerant, capable of surviving in temperature drops up to low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Juniper food You can feed your bonsais with a half-strength liquid juniper bonsai fertilizer between the spring and the fall season. Use it not more than once a month, and avoid feeding it during the summer months when the conditions are already ideal. Similarly, when you re-pot the plant, even then, avoid fertilization.
Pruning The best time to prune your bonsai is between summer and spring. If you want to keep the bonsais short, prune the new growth every time they grow over an inch. You can continue pruning from spring to the middle of September.
Re-potting & Growing Medium Junipers tend to grow fast. Hence, it takes no time to overgrow the container you plant them in. They do the best in the ground in the typical garden soil. But, if you plant the bonsais in pots, you must re-pot junipers under two years once every two years.


But, if your Junipers are older than two, you can re-pot them once every three to four years when they outgrow the container. While re-potting, you must carefully root prune.

Wiring Fortunately, the Juniper bonsai adapt well to wiring and take the desired shape easily. However, be careful while you do it as it may damage the plant. While wiring, use the wire cutters.


How To Take Care of A Juniper Bonsai Tree?

The best thing about Juniper Bonsai is that they are easy to care for. They need bright sunlight, well-drained soil, and watering as per needs. They can tolerate your accidental periods of neglect and rookie errors better than every other species. What you need to be careful about is to timely prune them to give the desired shape.


Of course, these guidelines can help keep up with your tree’s health, but still, know that every tree is different. So, observe, and adapt your plant’s care as it responds to them.


Here is a general overview of how to care for a juniper bonsai tree and what should work for most Juniper Bonsai.


A. Where to Place the Juniper Bonsai?

It is best to place your Juniper Bonsai outdoors, where it gets access to full sun and some shade in the summers because the harsh sun can make the foliage change its color to yellow.


B. Soil Requirements

Juniper bonsai enjoys a well-draining, moist soil but is not very wet. Use aerated soil which lets the air and water flow quickly. However, if you water the bonsai and there is a pool of water accumulated at the surface and the soil does not have the necessary drainage, gradually it can result in root rot and may even kill the plant.


C. How Much Light Does Juniper Bonsai Require?

Juniper bonsai love the full direct sun, but they also enjoy some shade in the afternoon. So, ensure that the plant receives at least six to eight hours of sun with partial shade.


D. How Often to Water Juniper Bonsai?

Unlike the other bonsai trees, the Juniper does not mind periods of drought between two watering frequencies. But you must assess the soil daily to figure out when you should rewater the bonsai. If you are unable to find the correct watering schedule for your plant, how to care for a juniper bonsai tree correctly?


Don’t worry. Simply take a chopstick and insert it in the soil about 2 inches deep. After 8-10 minutes take it out. If it is damp, that means the soil does not require immediate watering. Alternatively, you can also use your finger to check the moisture level of the soil.


E. Juniper Bonsai Temperature Range

A juniper bonsai can thrive in USDA hardiness zones three through eleven. Hence, they can survive in a variety of environments. But, an extended period of temperature drop below -10 degrees can be fatal for the plant.


F. Juniper Bonsai Fertilizer

Even though the Juniper bonsai thrive without excessive fertilization, it only helps the plant grow if you feed it once every month with solid fertilizer in the growing season. But, if you are using a traditional liquid solution, add it weekly. It is best to reach out to a urea-free liquid fertilizer as it is gentle and gives the plant a steady dose of nourishment. In the winter, you can avoid fertilization.


G. How to Prune Juniper Bonsai?

For developing the foliage pads, it is best to cut or pinch the long shoots that stick off the silhouette right at the base with a sharp pair of scissors across the growing season. However, never trim the Juniper Bonsai like a hedge. Chopping off all the growing tips can weaken the plant, resulting in brown needles.


To maintain the shape, only thin out the foliage pads whenever they become too dense. Fortunately, Juniper Bonsai is strong and can overcome aggressive pruning. However, it cannot bud again from the bare tree parts. So, ensure you leave the foliage on the brand to keep the plant alive.

H. When to Re-pot a Juniper Bonsai Tree?

The best time to re-pot your bonsai is during the late winter or Mid-February. In the winter, Juniper Bonsai is in the dormant stage and hence, there is no active growth. So, re-potting the bonsai can be a good idea.


I. Pests and Problems

You may know how to care for a juniper bonsai tree, but bonsai can be finicky with their care routine at times. Here are some concerns your Juniper Bonsai may experience.


1. Yellow, brittle foliage

If the plant does not receive ample light or you do not cater to its watering requirements, the foliage might turn yellow and brittle. So, ensure that you cater to the plant’s water and light needs. Also, maintain its humidity levels well.


2. Droopy, soft trunk, or foliage

If your bonsai starts turning yellow, the trunk feels rotten or soft, or the branches are droopy, you are probably overwatering your plant. If there is hope for the plant to survive, add some fresh dry soil, but do not remove over thirty-three percent of the existing one. Further, in the future, be careful with how much water you give your plant.


3. Pests

If you provide the plant with the proper care, the plant will keep the pests at bay. However, as a precautionary measure assess the plant well during the winters as it is the most common time for the plant to be infected by pests like juniper aphids, juniper scale, or spider mites.


How To Train A Juniper Bonsai Tree?

Wiring and pruning is the best way to train and maintain the shape of the Juniper Bonsai. You can begin by pruning the plant to give it the structure you want. Further, when it grows, keep pruning it for maintenance.

Wiring on the other hand helps you to keep the branches and fresh growth in place.


Related Read: Juniper tree lifespan | Juniper tree growth rate


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1. What is the difference between a juniper tree and a juniper bonsai?

Ans. Except for the size, there is not much difference between the Juniper tree and bonsai.


Ques 2. Should I Bring My Juniper Bonsai Inside During The Winter?

Ans. If the temperature drops below – 10 degrees and continues to be so for an extended duration, you can bring the Juniper bonsai inside to save it from dying.


Ques 3. What are the benefits of juniper bonsai?

Ans. Some benefits associated with Juniper bonsai are:

  1. They are low-maintenance plants with a forgiving nature. Hence, they can be a good pick for beginners.
  2. The Juniper bonsai can help cure digestion problems like intestinal gas, loss of appetite, upset stomach, bloating, gastrointestinal infections, and intestinal worms.
  3. Juniper bonsai also provides relief from UTIs and bladder and kidney stones.
  4. Applying Juniper directly on the skin can help with wounds.
  5. They relieve pain in muscles and joints.
  6. Juniper essential oil can help numb pain and cure bronchitis.
  7. Juniper berry is also useful as a flavoring ingredient and condiment in bitter and gin preparations.
  8. Juniper oil finds good use in cosmetics and soaps, courtesy of its aromatic fragrance.

Final Word

We hope you now have a comprehensive idea of how to take care of a juniper bonsai tree. So, give it the attention it needs and ensure your passion goes a long way in cultivating this beauty.