Practical Juniper

© Budi Setiawan - Fotolia.comClose your eyes and picture a typical Bonsai tree. You are probably visualizing a Juniper Bonsai. Juniper is one of the most popular Bonsai because it is very easy to grow and care for. Juniper Bonsai does very well both indoors and outdoors. In addition, it is a very forgiving plant as it will put up with a lot of abuse and still flourish.


Juniper Bonsai will do best in partial shade. They will do fine if they get morning or late afternoon sun but keep them out the harsh mid-day light


Juniper Bonsai love humid conditions. Place your Juniper plant over a tray filled with water. Do not place the Juniper directly in the water but on a plant stand or pedestal placed in the water. For a “zen” look place smooth stones in the water.


Juniper Bonsai do need to be watered regularly. You want to test your soil daily. Simply stick your finger into the soil up to your first knuckle. If the soil is dry it is time to water. Usually this will be every 2 days or so. Do not use water that has been treated with a water softener. If your water is high in minerals leach the soil by flushing with distilled water once in a while.

There are 2 ways to water your Juniper. Immerse it in a water filled container up to the trunk and keep there until the bubbles stop. Or, water normally, wait a few minutes and then repeat. Do this 3 times to make sure your Bonsai has received a good soaking.


Juniper Bonsai are quite hungry little guys and need to fertilized every 2 weeks during the growth season. It is best to use an organic liquid fertilizer like seaweed or fish emulsion. There are chemical fertilizers available for Bonsai but read the directions carefully. You may need to dilute this fertilizer to prevent the roots and plant foliage from burning.


Spider mites love Juniper Bonsai. This is especially true if your Bonsai is indoors due to the dry air. Spray your Bonsai and any other surrounding plants with a regular insecticide monthly.


Repot your Juniper every few years when your tree is under 5 years old and ever 4 years or so after that age. The best time to repot is in the spring although fall is also acceptable. Repotting can shock your Bonsai so water well and keep the tree in the shade for 2 weeks.

Pruning Roots

It is best to prune your roots every other spring. Simply remove the tree from its pot. Gently remove the soil and spread out the rootball. I use a chopstick to smooth out the rootball on my younger Bonsai. Trim about 1/3rd of the roots and return to the pot. When you perform this step your Bonsai might go into shock at first. You can purchase some vitamin b-1 transplant shock solution and apply to you plant. Misting a few times a day for a couple of weeks will also help.

Pruning your Tree

During the spring buds will grow on the tips of the tree’s branches. These buds will need to be removed so tree limbs do not grow. Unless you actually want a limb to grow in the area of a new bud go ahead and remove them. This will not harm the tree but it will keep the tree shape you have worked so hard to accomplish.

Sleepy Time

Bonsai need to go through a dormant or sleep period where the temperature drops to at least 60 degrees F. If your tree is kept outside during this dormant time keep it well protected from the elements. Do not worry about freezing temperatures. Your Bonsai will survive.

Growing Indoors

Junipers can be grown indoors. Be sure they get at least 2 hours of sunlight a day. Usually indoor climates are very dry and Juniper Bonsai love humidity. Keep a humidity tray under your Bonsai and mist everyday. Do not place your plant near air conditioning or heating vents. You will also want to dust your tree regularly as indoor dirt and grim will clog up the pores of the your plant.


As you can see Juniper Bonsai are fairly easy to care for. However don’t just follow the above steps and believe you will have a perfect Juniper. Pay attention to your plant. You may find to achieve perfection you need to water less or expose your tree to more sunlight. Like you and your friends and family, every tree is different and responds in different ways to love and nurturing.

Did you know there are over 300 varieties of Bonsai to choose from? I’ve narrowed down my favorites to 15. Check out my Bonsai Tree Gallery and growing video collection to learn more about this fascinating hobby!

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  2. Hey Paul

    Thank you for the book prize. Your right Ken Normans book ‘Practical Bonsai’ is a great read with some great projects to try out.

    Looking forward to your next competition.

    Thank again


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