8 Different Types of Juniper Bonsai Trees

Japanese Shimpaku could be your best bet for juniper bonsai species

Different types of juniper bonsai
 

The Juniper is an excellent beginner-friendly tree for bonsai with almost 50-60 different varieties to play with. They come from the Cypress family and are native to Northern Hemisphere. Juniper bonsais are famous for their ease to grow and effortless maintenance. Different  juniper bonsais can be spotted in different corners of the world, from the Arctic to Eurasia and even in several parts of America.

 

If you are well-versed with some simple bonsai techniques, you will have a one-of-a-kind Juniper Bonsai thriving in no time. Let us learn in a little more detail about these popular bonsais and how to keep them thriving!

 

Different Types of Juniper Bonsai Trees

  1. Juniperus Chinensis ‘Foemina’ (Foemina Juniper)
  2. Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ (Garden Juniper)
  3. Juniperus sabina (Savin Juniper)
  4. Juniperus Chinensis (Chinese Juniper)
  5. Juniperus communis (Common Juniper)
  6. Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa (Dwarf Boxwoods)
  7. Juniperus californica (California Juniper)
  8. Juniperus communis ‘Hornibrookii’ (Hornibrook Juniper)

 

Can You Use Any Juniper For Bonsai?

The Juniper Bonsais are the quintessential Bonsai specimen. There are fifty to seventy different species in the Juniper Genus, and you can grow all of these Junipers as bonsais, but of course, some of them will look better than others in the miniaturized form.

 

Types of Juniper Bonsai That Are Most Popular

Broadly Junipers are divided into two sub-groups: Those with Scale-like foliage and others with needle-like foliage. Of the two, the latter is more prevalent globally.

 

Here are the eight most popular varieties of Juniper Bonsais

 

1. Juniperus Chinensis ‘Foemina’ (Foemina Juniper)

Juniperus Chinensis ‘Foemina’ (Foemina Juniper)
 

Native to China, the Foemina Juniper thrives in USDA hardiness zones three through nine. You will typically find them as informal and formal upright growing bonsais. It is an ornamental dwarf conifer variety famous for its spreading and upright growth habit.

 

It has needle-like foliage, but its needles are the finest or the smallest. Hence, it is easy to identify these species. Its attractive evergreen foliage is green and remains so across the winter. Even while young, these bonsai can survive even the harshest conditions.

 

2. Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ (Garden Juniper)

Juniperus procumbens 'Nana'
 

Fondly known as the Garden Juniper, these Juniper varieties are native to Japan. It is also found in the UK, US, South Africa, and several parts of Europe. It is not a tall-growing shrub in the natural setting, but it develops leaves and branches pretty effortlessly. Its needles form in clusters, and the shoot breaks out only after a dense cluster forms.

 

3. Juniperus sabina (Savin Juniper)

Juniperus sabina (Savin Juniper)
 

These are the most prevalent Junipers trees across Europe, Asia, and North Africa. These have scale-like foliage, and their foliage will have colors in all shades of green, depending on its location. Also, this Juniper is very poisonous. Hence, we do not recommend having them in your house, especially if you have children or pets.

4. Juniperus Chinensis (Chinese Juniper)

Juniperus Chinensis (Chinese Juniper)
 

There are various kinds of Chinese Juniper Bonsais, but one that is most popular among them is the Shimpaku. It is one of the best juniper species for bonsai. They are exceptionally hardy and have a slow growth rate. These low-maintenance Junipers need little care and develop needle parts. Ideal for deadwood, the Chinese Juniper is native to Japan, Korea, and China and thrives in a sunny location. It can also tolerate partial shade during lunchtime. They are cold tolerant and even live in temperatures below -10 degrees Celsius.

 

5. Juniperus communis (Common Juniper)

Juniperus communis (Common Juniper)
 

These are prevalent globally, as they are an easy-to-maintain juniper that can thrive in both acidic and alkaline soils and an array of environments, including windy ones. One of the distinctive features of this Juniper is that it does not have a fixed shape and usually takes its form according to the surroundings exposed.

 

Hence, you can find Common Junipers in various forms. While some cultivators are low-growing shrubs employed as ground coverings, others are erect trees. This variety has needle-like foliage.

 

6. Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa (Dwarf Boxwoods)

Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa
 

These are popular as shrubs but are also an excellent choice for bonsais as they respond well to pruning. One of the most popular types of juniper bonsai of Dwarf Boxwood kind is the little leaf boxwood or the Kingsville Dwarf. It usually grows between 12 and 18 inches and is suitable for miniature gardens or bonsais.

 

Another category in this is the Harland boxwood (Buxus harlandii). This shrub grows somewhat taller, up to two to three feet, if you skip the pruning session. These bonsais love full sun but can also survive in partial shade. They are drought-tolerant. So, rewater only when the plant’s top soil is dry.

 

7. Juniperus californica (California Juniper)

Juniperus californica (California Juniper)
 

Native to North America, California Juniper is a small shrub with greyish-blue foliage. It is also widely popular in California and thrives best at altitudes of 1200 meters or above. It is a tall juniper and can grow up to twenty-six feet, but you can prune and train to maintain its height. It is a monoecious plant, implying that both genders are on the same tree.

 

8. Juniperus communis ‘Hornibrookii’ (Hornibrook Juniper)

Juniperus communis ‘Hornibrookii’
 

Native to Europe, you can find these Junipers in various shapes like cascade, semi-cascade, and informal upright. These are prevalent in USDA hardiness zone seven and are a prostate or a flat-growing Juniper cultivator. It is a dwarf variety of the Common Juniper and is known for its silvery evergreen foliage and a fast-spreading growing habit.

 

When the fall approaches, its needles become coppery-bronze, a color that prevails across the winter, giving it an ornamental look. This bonsai enjoys the sun in dry conditions.

 

I Am A Beginner – Is It A Good Idea For Me To Begin With Bonsai?

Even if you are a beginner, you can start with a juniper bonsai. All you need is the correct information on how to care for them and most importantly how to trim them for the desired shape.

 

So, you need to keep in mind that Juniper Bonsai demand ample sunlight, good drainage, and regular watering to thrive. Wiring is one of the most significant steps of starting with a Juniper Bonsai. You can train its branches with the wire and shape them as you like.

 

In addition, its trunks can also be trained using a thick wire for creating unique movements. You can pick from an array of styles like informal uprights, formal uprights, and cascades.

 

More on this in the following section.

 

Juniper Bonsai Care

Now that you know about the different types of juniper bonsai, you must have decided which one is suitable for your home or garden. It brings us to an important question – How will you care for these chosen bonsais? Read below to find out:

 

1. Location

The first factor you must consider in planting and caring for the Juniper bonsais is location. Always plant them in a spot that receives sunlight for at least four hours of the day, followed by some shade. Even though they survive the cold too, it is best to bring them indoors if the outside temperature frequently drops below 15 degrees.

 

2. Water

Juniper bonsais are susceptible to root rots if exposed to soil wetness. So, do not overwater your bonsais. Anytime you rewater the plant, ensure the soil is 100 percent dry. Of course, you can mist the tree daily, especially after re-potting, as the plant enjoys good humidity.

 

3. Fertilizer

Fertilizing the bonsais can do wonders to its growth, but you must curtail your fertilization routine to only once per month. In summers, Juniper bonsais get everything they need directly from the environment and the soil. Thus, you do not have to fertilize them as frequently.

 

In contrast, during the winters, the bonsais are dormant through. Hence, you should fertilize the plant with a fertilizer that has low nitrogen levels, particularly during the fall, as your bonsais will stay dormant across the upcoming season.

 

4. Container

Your pot selection is also a vital factor in the care of the different types of juniper bonsai. Typically, most Junipers grow in two styles:

  1. Upright Style
  2. Cascading Style

 

For the upright-style Juniper, you should opt for a rectangular or shallow oval bonsai pot. On the contrary, if you have a cascading juniper, you should opt for a deep rectangular bonsai pot.

 

5. Re-potting

Depending on the pot size and the growth rate, you should re-pot your bonsais only once in four to six years. If you have the younger varieties, they demand re-potting once every two to three years. You can re-pot the bonsais during September, but late spring is the ideal time for re-potting.

 

6. Pruning

Prune all juniper bonsais during the growing season, from spring to late summer. However, use sharp scissors and carefully cut the long sticks stemming off the base. You can pinch back new shoots anytime they are about an inch long.

 

7. Soil

You can pick a commercially available bonsai soil mix to achieve the best results. These potting mixes are well-draining, ensuring the water and the air reach the roots, and are an amalgam of organic potting compost, akadama, fine grit or gravel, and pumice. You can find them at almost every plant store, garden center, or online.

 

8. Wiring

The Juniper Bonsais are amenable to wiring as it helps the growers achieve the right angles and shapes. These bonsais can be trained and bent aggressively, particularly when they are flexible and young.

 

However, while wiring, you must be careful with the deadwood that can easily split. As you bend the juvenile branches to give shape to the new growth, wrap or tape in a raffia string for added protection.

 

Do Juniper Bonsai Trees Bloom?

There are both flowering and non-flowering varieties in Juniper Bonsais. So, if it is a flowering Juniper, it will bloom during Spring time.

 

Related: Juniper Tree Lifespan | Juniper Tree Growth Rate

 

How Long Does A Juniper Bonsai Live?

The lifespan may vary in different types of juniper bonsai. However, if you offer them the required nourishment and care, the juniper bonsais can live for a century.

 

How Can You Tell The Age Of A Juniper Bonsai?

To know your bonsai’s age, measure its diameter and multiply it by the growth rate. However, if you want a more accurate age count for your bonsais, select a branch from the tree and prune it. Next, count the number of rings it has. However, it is a risky method and might inflict some damage on the tree.
 

Final Word – So, Is Juniper a Good Tree to Bonsai?

So, this is all about the best juniper species for bonsai. Junipers are indeed one of the most beloved trees globally and are a true delight for bonsai lovers. People love them because they can quickly adapt to every kind of environment, courtesy of their flexible branches that let gardening enthusiasts quickly learn to trim and prune them. Moreover, they have a faster growth rate than other common bonsais.

 

Hence, they are excellent trees to grow and bonsai. You will cherish your time planting and caring for them so much that you may fall in love with the whole world of bonsais.