How to Propagate a Juniper bonsai
Juniper, (of the genus Juniperus), consists of around 60 to 70 species of evergreen trees or shrubs belonging to the cypress family (Cupressaceae), and are conifers distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Also known as cedar, many of these aromatic plant species are grown as ornamental shrubs and are considered useful for their timber.
The berry-like cones of ordinary juniper are useful for flavoring foods and alcoholic drinks—specifically gin, which is named after Juniperus through the French genièvre. These “berries” have a spicy fragrance and a somewhat bittersweet flavor. Juniper oil is used in the making of some perfumes and medicines.
Experts in bonsai typically use cuttings from a healthy shrub or tree to begin their exploit into Juniper bonsai propagation. The ideal cuttings to use for successful propagation comprise either softwood or semi-hardwood.
Tips to Propagate a Juniper Bonsai
If using hardwood (the thickest part of the plant’s trunk) for the juniper bonsai, you’ll need to shave away the bark and wood until the cambium is exposed. In simple terms, the cambium is the green-colored material in a branch and it’s responsible for the backup growth of roots and stems.
Your chances of getting a hardwood cutting to root are much less than if you use softwood or semi-hardwood.
Things You Will Need
- Large clean planter (at least 1gallon)
- Soilless potting mix
- Pruning cutters
- Sharp knife or box cutters
- Rooting powder
- 4 x 12-inch metal stakes
- Plastic film
Steps to be followed
Now that you have the necessary tools, equipment, and mixes, simply follow the next steps:
1. Fill the planter with the soilless potting mix. Make a hole that’s around one inch in diameter for each juniper cutting.
2. Cut a roughly 10-inch long stem off of the plant using pruning cutters.
Tip: Choose a healthy branch that has plenty of needles growing on it.
3. Clear growth from the bottom 2–3 inches of the branch cutting. Make slits about one inch long through the outer layer on each side of the bared stem using the sharp knife or box cutters. These allow the branch to absorb more root-growth hormones and water.
4. Place some rooting powder in a small dish. Dip the end of the tree cutting in the powder to coat it thoroughly then shake off any excess.
5. Put the powder-covered section of the cutting into the prepared hole in the planter, and firm the potting mix around the branch, keeping it upright.
6. Repeat the above until the planter is full. Depending on the type of juniper, rooting should take place in around four to eight weeks. Mist the branches and potting mix until they feel moist right through.
7. Put the four 12-inch stakes in each corner of the planter. Cover the newly planted branches with plastic film to keep humidity consistent. Place the planter in a location that receives indirect light and has a temperature that ranges from 60–65° Fahrenheit.
Tip: A heating mat placed under the planter and maintained at around 70° Fahrenheit will increase the chances of root development.
8. Mist the cuttings daily. Start checking for root development using a gentle tug after four weeks (also a good sign is new growth that’s visible on the branch itself).
Now that you have several rooted junipers, you can transplant them individually into roughly four-inch pots. Just remember that a successful bonsai comes from controlling root and stem growth through consistent cutting and pruning. Good luck with your junipers.