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What is Juniper Bonsai?

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  • Written By: Henry Gaudet
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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For those new to the Japanese art of bonsai, the juniper comes highly recommended. Juniper bonsai can be grown indoors or outdoors and can be pruned and shaped into exquisite living sculptures. Not only are juniper bonsai trees highly versatile, able to achieve a variety of beautiful effects, they also are hearty plants sturdy enough to survive the novice gardener’s early mistakes.

Any of dozens of varieties of juniper trees can be used for bonsai. Often, gardeners will choose a specimen for its color, ranging from deep green to a dusty bluish color. Young junipers display slender needles, but more mature trees have scaled foliage. No matter what type or age of tree is selected, the juniper bonsai will require the same treatment and care.

Pruning is the element that distinguishes a juniper bonsai from any other juniper tree. In order to maintain the tree’s shape, new growth must be pruned away regularly. New buds can be snipped away with scissors, but some people prefer to use their fingernails to pinch off new growth. Gardeners control the direction and shape of new growth by selectively allowing some new growth to remain.

A juniper bonsai tree grows best in full or partial sunlight, ideally with direct light in the morning and shade in the afternoon. It does well as a houseplant and in the garden. The plant does not have any special soil requirements, and ordinary potting soil is sufficient.

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Proper moisture is important, and juniper trees are vulnerable to root rot and do not tolerate over-watering well. For the best results, watering should wait until the soil has gone dry on top. One should water the plant by saturating the soil, then allowing it to drain.

Humidity also is essential for the tree’s health. Placing the juniper on a tray filled with small stones helps to maintain enough moisture in the air and keep the tree healthy. This tray is also useful for catching drainage after watering.

Whether grown indoors or outdoors, juniper bonsai trees go through a dormant stage in winter. In especially cold climates, where below-freezing temperatures are common, some gardeners choose to shelter trees indoors in an unheated area such as a shed or garage. Others instead insulate the tree’s roots by burying the pot in a flowerbed.

Plants grown indoors go dormant during the winter months as well, and these trees will benefit from being kept in cooler rooms. Wherever they are kept, it is important that the juniper continues to get sunlight. Watering might be required periodically, but care should be taken to avoid over-watering it.

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