Juniper Tree | Juniperus Bonsai | Ultimate Species Guide

The Juniper tree, also known as the Juniperus bonsai, is one of the most popular to grow, stemming from Japanese tradition. Wherever you see artwork or bonsai in movies, you’ll most likely see a species from this beautiful genus.

In this extensive guide, we’ll show you how to care for your Juniper tree bonsai. We’ll also present the top species you can cultivate and where you can look for inspiration.

Juniper tree

Here are the topics we’ll cover:

Here are the topics we’ll cover:

Quick Caresheet for Juniper Tree (Juniperus Bonsai)

Recommended soil

Standard bonsai mix with acidic pH level and high nitrogen content

Watering

Bathe the soil in water once a week in the hot months, with light watering only when the soil dries out

Potting season

Late winter/early spring

Shaping and pruning season

Early spring and autumn

Light

Full sun

Fertilizing

Once every two weeks in summer and spring, with high nitrogen levels

Propagation methods

Stem cuttings, air layering

Pests and diseases

Spider mites, root rot, tip blight, whitefly, scales

Growth patterns

Slow growing and may take long before you see cones

Recommended styles

Semi-cascading, cascading, formal and informal upright, slanting, multiple trunks, and root-over-rock

Juniper tree

Juniper Bonsai Care Guide

Now that you have the basic idea out of the way, welcome to our detailed care guide for the Juniperus bonsai. We’ll show you what you should know about looking after your Juniper tree so that you can keep it alive. These are mostly general aspects, and we’ll share links to more extensive articles for more information.

Placement and Light

The first element we want to look at is where you should place your Juniper tree bonsai and how much light it needs. We’ve seen many enthusiasts kill theirs, as they didn’t provide the correct conditions. These guidelines should be able to assist you.

Can Juniper Bonsai Trees Grow Indoors?

There are many Juniperus bonsai species that you can grow indoors. You’ll need to provide at least four hours of sunlight, preferably in the morning so it has energy for the day ahead. You’ll also need to check how much humidity there is and increase it if the levels are too low.

However, we recommend not keeping your Juniper bonsai indoors for too many days after each other. About twice a week, you can take it outside for some fresh air and sunshine. It will enjoy soaking in the light, but watch that the leaves don’t burn during the hottest part of the day.

Where Is The Best Place To Put A Juniperus Bonsai Tree?

Your Juniper tree prefers being outside for the entire year. With its evergreen nature, you won’t have to worry about the needles dropping in the colder months. While it enjoys being outdoors, we suggest you provide some shade when the sun is at its highest. A strategic location against a wall will help.

When the winter becomes too cold, you may want to bring it inside while ensuring there’s still enough direct light. While the cold won’t kill it, you may notice diseases or problems forming. It’s best to place it safe and keep it secure from any adverse weather.

How Much Light Do Juniper Bonsai Need?

For optimal development of your Juniperus bonsai, we recommend at least four hours daily. You can provide it in the morning or late afternoon, with some dappled shade in between. Species like the green mound juniper love bright light for as long as possible to get the energy it needs to grow.

Does A Juniper Bonsai Need A Grow Light?

While many people use grow lights for their indoor bonsais, the Juniper tree doesn’t perform well with one. It’s better to give it as much direct sunlight as possible, as grow lights don’t supply to correct conditions for it. You may see the needles turning yellow or brown.

Can Junipers Get Too Much Sun?

One significant concern isn’t how many hours of sunlight your Juniper tree bonsai receives, but at which time of the day. It can never get too much sun, but you need to shade it in the peak afternoon when it’s incredibly hot. Once the sun moves away a bit, your Juniperus can soak in the light again.

Watering

Your Juniper tree will grow thirsty, while the levels of water you need to provide will depend on the season. We don’t want your Juniperus bonsai to suffer, so we’ve given you as much detail as possible. You’ll also see information on misting and humidity levels it enjoys, while we’ll discuss drainage and using trays.

How Often Should I Water Juniper Bonsai?

It’s best to perform Juniper bonsai watering every two to three days. It mostly depends on how hot it is and how quickly your tree drinks. In spring and summer, you can expect more regular watering, as that’s when it’s the thirstiest.

When autumn starts to cool and winter pulls in, you’ll see it needs less water. You might only need to attend to it once or twice a week. Wait until the soil dries out completely before you add more, as the roots hate lying in water for too long.

How Much Water Does A Bonsai Tree Need

If you want to provide your Juniper tree with enough water, we suggest you drown or bathe it and let the liquid drain out completely. It prefers this method to daily watering. You’ll see that it drinks slowly over the course of two days.

To test when it needs more water, you can poke the soil with your finger and see how much moisture is in the top 3 inches. If it still feels damp, don’t give it any more liquid. You need to wait until there’s absolutely no moisture left.

Can You Water Juniper Bonsai Trees With Tap Water?

Tap water doesn’t really harm Juniperus bonsais, but there may be some chemicals in them that the roots don’t like. If your municipal water has high levels of sodium or chlorine, it may have a bad effect in the long run. To solve this issue, you can leave the liquid in your watering can for 24 hours before supplying it, by which time it should have escaped into the air by then.

What Does An Overwatered Juniper Look Like?

One of the top signs of an overwatered Juniper is a change in the leaf color. It may appear like it’s wilting, or it shifts from green to yellow to brown. The trunk will soften, branches will shrink, and the bonsai tree will generally look unhealthy.

How Much Humidity Do Juniper Trees Need?

Humidity is a favorite of most bonsai trees, and the Juniperus is no different. It loves high levels of moisture in the air, so it won’t do well in dry hardiness zones. You’ll need to help it along by adding humidity around it.

How Often Should I Mist My Juniperus Bonsai Tree?

Misting should be done once a week on your Juniper tree’s leaves to help clean the dust that collects. We recommend doing it in the early morning so that it had a chance to dry while also not baking in the afternoon sun. Spraying doesn’t really help with humidity, so we suggest you invest in a humidity tray.

Feeding, Potting, and Soil

We’ve grouped these three aspects together as they are closely related. Soil and fertilizer are essential for maintaining the health of your Juniper tree, while you also need to ensure there are enough nutrients and the pH level is correct. When the time comes to repot your Juniperus bonsai, you need to ensure you do it correctly.

What Is The Best Fertilizer For Juniper Bonsai?

The Juniper fertilizer will depend on the season. It needs nitrogen to help develop the needles, but you don’t want to use a consistent approach throughout the year. You’ll need to check the NPK values on the box to see the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus and potassium.

In spring where there is rapid growth, you want a higher nitrogen level, such as 10:6:6. In summer, you can aim for a balanced approach to shift the energy to cone and seed development, like 6:6:6. Bring the nitrogen down even more in autumn with a 3:6:6 mixture.

How Do You Fertilize A Juniper Bonsai Tree?

Your Juniperus bonsai will develop well with feeding once every two weeks during spring and summer if you’re using a liquid solution. There are also solid pellets and spikes you can buy that lasts over both seasons, and you’ll just need to keep an eye on how quickly it decomposes into the soil.

In autumn, you should still provide it with food once a month to store carbohydrates for the coming winter. When the cold months set in, you can stop fertilizing your Juniper tree altogether, as you need your bonsai to rest.

Are Coffee Grounds Good For Juniperus Bonsai Trees?

Fortunately, coffee grounds are an excellent source of nitrogen, so they will help the Juniper tree develop more foliage. You can use the leftover grounds after making coffee and apply them to your soil. You’ll need to watch out that the dampness doesn’t cause mold to form, which is a massive culprit in this situation.

We recommend only using this method in spring. When summer arrives, you want the other nutrients to play a part in cone formation and developing more branches. With too much nitrogen in this season, you’ll see a more bushy appearance, which is counterproductive to keeping your bonsai in shape.

What Kind Of Soil Does A Juniper Bonsai Tree Need?

You can purchase a standard juniper bonsai soil from your local store, as it will contain all the nutrients it needs. There’ll be sufficient aeration, while you’ll also see that the water drains well. Ensure the roots are secure and that there’s enough stability to hold the Juniper tree bonsai in place. The best pH level is between 5.0 to 7.0, but you should lean towards acidic.

How Do You Mix Juniper Bonsai Soil?

If you want to mix your own Juniperus bonsai soil, you can use the same mixture as the commercial products. It usually combines the following:

  • akadama
  • organic potting compost
  • Pumice
  • fine gravel

When you’re dealing with a Juniper tree cutting, you can aim for a different approach. Ingredients you can use include loam, sphagnum moss, and granite grit. You should ensure you have sufficient drainage at the bottom of the pot so the water doesn’t linger.

Can You Use Cactus Soil For Juniper Bonsai?

Bonsai and cactus soil are almost similar in that they provide adequate drainage for water. Since Juniper bonsais don’t enjoy daily watering, you can use cactus soil as long as it has the right nutrients and pH levels. However, if you find that your tree isn’t happy, it’s better to move it into a bonsai mix.

Do Junipers Make Soil Acidic?

The Juniper tree has magical powers. Just like pine bark, Juniperus needles make the soil more acidic. So, if you’re struggling with alkaline soil, you can place some cuttings onto the soil to correct the situation. When you bathe your bonsai, the water will help the mulch decompose.

How Do You Repot A Juniper Bonsai?

There’s a specific process you need to follow when repotting your Juniper tree bonsai. If you’re not careful, you can injure the roots which will lead to diseases in time to come.

Here are some tips for repotting your Juniper roots into new soil:

  1. Don’t clean the roots completely: Conifers like Juniperus develop a relationship with microbes in the soil. You’ll want to leave some of the soil on the roots to retain as many of them as possible.
  2. Don’t prune too many roots: If you trim too many roots after your leaves have grown furiously, you’ll see your foliage development slow down. Try to only cut as much as you need to fit it into your pot while saving space for future growth.
  3. Remove injured roots: If you see any injured, broken, or diseased roots, remove them. They will cause pests and rot to form in the months of watering that’s too follow.
  4. Check the species: While we’ve shown you the needs of the Juniperus bonsai genus in general, we recommend you check the specific species needs.
  5. Drench the soil: As soon as the Juniper tree is back in the bonsai pot with the new soil, drown it in water so the roots can settle back in after all that stress, then let it dry out for a few days.

Juniper tree

Foliage

The foliage of your Juniperus bonsai is one of the parts that keep it alive. It uses it to create energy and transfer gases in and out. With specialized needles, there are many factors you need to consider to ensure that your Juniper tree remains strong.

What Are Juniper Leaves Called?

The Juniper tree’s leaves are called needles, and you get two types among the various species: those with scales and those without them. Some join smoothly to the stem of the bonsai, while others have a joint at the base.

The needles form in different ways, and they have various numbers of whorls for each one, which helps in identifying them. Some are soft and prickly while others are smooth.

Are Juniper Needles Poisonous?

With more than 50 species in the Juniperus genus, there are a few junipers that are poisonous. The common juniper has needles that are used as a flavoring in food. There are others that are used for medicinal properties. There’s also a list of species that have mild toxicity that are dangerous for children and dogs.

Are Juniper Needles Edible?

Unless you’re planning to cook them in your food for their flavor, we don’t recommend eating juniper needles. You need to first identify which species it is before you place it in your mouth. There are some that will make you incredibly nauseous, and you may end up with stomach problems.

Can You Eat A Juniper Berry?

There are plenty of Juniper berries that you can eat. As a matter of fact, some of them have been used to add a unique flavor to gin. The trick is knowing which berries are safe to eat and which are not. Some have a bitter taste, which is a good indication that you should steer clear of it.

Are Juniper Branches Edible?

Some Juniper branches have been known to cause diarrhea and problems to kidneys. However, the Creeping Juniper has edible berries, branches, and needles. If you’re ever stranded on an unknown island, this is the species that you’ll hope to find.

How Can You Tell If A Juniper Is Edible?

It can be hard to know if a Juniper is edible. You’ll need to first identify it to check whether it’s safe to eat. Also, most berries are used as a flavoring and not eating directly from the bush. Two Juniper trees you must not eat from include Juniperus oxycedrus and Juniperus sabina, as they can make you incredibly sick.

Here are some Juniper trees that are safe to eat from:

  • Juniperus californica
  • Juniperus communis
  • Juniperus deppeana
  • Juniperus drupacea
  • Juniperus phoenicea

What Does A Juniper Smell Like?

Most Juniperus bonsais produce an aromatic scent that smells like woody cedar. Since it’s used in flavoring, the common juniper smells like gin. You can also obtain a scent of both on some species.

How Can You Tell If A Juniper Is Male Or Female?

Juniper tree identification can be challenging at the best of times, but there’s a way to see if your bonsai is male or female. The trick is to check the small berries that it produces. If you see pollen, then it’s a male. The female is the one that carries berries with seeds in them.

Why Do Juniper Bushes Turn Yellow?

The discoloration of Juniperus bonsai needles is due to a lack of nutrients. If you see the bottom section of the leaf turning yellow, then it needs nitrogen, potassium, and magnesium. When it happens on the upper half, then it’s lacking sulfur.

Do Junipers Have Flowers?

Juniper trees are gymnosperms, which means they don’t produce flowers. Instead, they have small modified cones that look like berries. The male cones still have pollen, while the females bear seeds, much like angiosperms.

Maintenance and Cultivation

While you can let a Juniper tree in the wild grow as much as it wants, the same can’t be said for a Juniperus bonsai. You need to prune it at the correct times to maintain the shape and style you want. If you let it cluster too much, it may cause problems in the long run.

When Should I Prune My Juniper Bonsai?

With its evergreen traits, Juniperus bonsais have two sessions of growth. The first is spring and the second in autumn. You’ll need to prune at both times if you want to keep your small tree in proper shape. You can also focus on structural design pruning in winter while it’s dormant.

How Do You Maintain A Juniper Bonsai Tree?

Learning how to prune a Juniper bonsai depends on the species. Each one grows its needles differently, and you’ll need to see where to cut and how to promote various shapes. We find it best to pinch new buds with our fingers where we want new buds to grow.

How Do You Shape A Juniper Bonsai Tree?

Shaping your bonsai requires various tools and patience. You can use wires to bend the branches into place, as they’re quite flexible when they’re young. In this way, you can form a cascade Juniper bonsai by turning one stem over the side of the pot. Another method is to let a branch grow longer than needed and then trim it back.

How Fast Do Juniper Bonsai Trees Grow?

Some Juniper tree species develop quicker than others, but it’s mostly a slow grower. It may take anywhere between seven to ten years for it to reach maturity, and it can live much longer after that. It may become difficult to maintain thick branches at this stage, and you can only work with new shoots.

How Do You Style A Juniper Bonsai Tree?

Fortunately, the tree is quite forgiving, and there are plenty of Juniper bonsai styles you can try. Some of the more popular ones are semi-cascading, cascading, formal and informal upright, slanting, multiple trunks, and root-over-rock.

Wintering

Winter can be hard on any tree, especially if you have frost in your region. While the genus is evergreen, you may need to prepare your Juniper bonsai tree for the coming cold. We have some tips you can use to ensure you have everything in place.

How Cold Is Too Cold For Juniper Bonsai?

Since it’s accustomed to cold temperatures in its native lands, Juniper trees can handle anything down to 15°F. Its hard stem and shallow roots are able to withstand the chill, but even it has its limits. It’s even able to deal with ice and some frost forming on the needles.

Can Juniper Bonsai Survive Winter?

Like most trees, your Juniperus bonsai will go dormant during winter. It rests for the coming spring, even though it’s evergreen and won’t change needle colors. You won’t need to worry about it too much, and you should see some new shoots when it begins to warm up again. Learn how to care for your Juniper bonsai in winter.

Can Juniper Bonsai Survive Snow?

One of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see is a Juniper tree laden with snow during the winter months. However, your bonsai is small, and it needs adequate protection. While it can handle some frost and snow, you’ll need to check that the temperature isn’t too cold.

Can Juniper Bonsai Be Left Outside In Winter?

As long as the temperature doesn’t drop below 15°F, you can comfortably leave your Juniper outside. Your bonsai won’t struggle against the cold, and it will even be comfortable with strong winds as long as you have it tied down and it has bush foliage.

How Do I Store My Juniper Bonsai In The Winter?

If you’re worried about the cold and weather, you can bring your Juniperus bonsai inside during winter. Even though it’s dormant, you still need to supply it with some sunlight in the morning, as there’s still a small amount of photosynthesis occurring. Don’t hide it in a dark corner, as it won’t do well there.

Juniper tree
Propagation

So, you want to grow a Juniperus bonsai from a Juniper tree in your garden, but you’re not sure how? Well, fortunately, we have some experience in this matter. We’ll show you the top method you can use and which precautions you need to take for successful propagation.

Can You Root Juniper Cuttings In Water?

While it is possible to do so, the chances of your Juniper tree developing leaves are incredibly low. If you don’t constantly change the water, the tip will become moldy and rot. You’ll also see the stem dying a bit at a time.

Can I Propagate Juniper From Cuttings?

Using cuttings is the best Juniper propagation method. The best time to take the cutting is in the middle of winter while it’s dormant. You apply rooting hormone powder to the tip and place it in bonsai soil while sheltering it inside with some sunlight through the window. After a few months, you should feel some roots appear.

How Do You Encourage The Roots To Grow From Cuttings?

We recommend you place the cutting in soil with rooting hormone, but you can also try air layering. You cut a strip of bark open and place foil with sphagnum moss around it. If you keep it hydrated, you should see roots after about a year. That’s the best time for planting Juniper trees.

Can You Grow Juniper From Seed?

It’s possible to germinate Juniper tree seeds if you have the patience. Cuttings work better, as you’ll need to put the seeds through a stratification period first. In the wild, they would fall onto the cold, winter ground and lie there until spring arrives. You need to simulate this process.

How Long Does It Take For Juniper Cuttings To Root?

It depends on which propagation method you choose when planting your Juniper tree. If you use cuttings, it can take a few months for the roots to appear. For air layering, it can take up to two years. It also depends on how much light and water you provide during the time and if it’s free from pests.

Pests and Diseases

While growing your Juniper bonsai tree, small insects and fungi will attempt to ruin all your efforts. They’re hungry and will feast on the needles at any chance they get. Don’t worry! We’ll show you how you can get rid of pests and diseases and make sure they don’t return.

How Do I Get Rid Of Bugs On My Juniperus Bonsai Tree?

While you can use pesticides for most bugs on your Juniper tree, we find that neem oil works well. You can also make your own home remedies, but we recommend you buy a solution from professionals to avoid damaging your bonsai.

How Do I Get Rid Of Spider Mites On My Juniper Bonsai?

Spider mites hate insecticidal soap, and a good washing with it will kill all of them. We recommend applying it a few times to make sure you get all of them. To prevent any other diseases or issues from forming, we recommend you wash off all the remaining soap when you’re done.

Do Junipers Get Diseases?

For the most part, many Juniper tree species are resilient against diseases. However, there are some fungi that do attack them, such as tip and twig blight. You need to inspect the needles on a daily basis to catch any problems are early as possible.

What Does Juniper Blight Look Like?

Juniper blight is where the tips of needles die back and appear brown. It may be caused by drying leaves, but it’s mainly a fungal disease. You should remove the infected parts before they spread to other areas of your tree. If it has spread too far into your bonsai, you may need to remove it completely.

How Do You Get Rid Of Juniper Fungus?

It’s best that you buy a fungicide that works on Juniperus fungal diseases. We recommend you look for one that contains thiophanate-methyl, mancozeb, or copper. These tend to work the best, but you should know that not all diseases are curable, and you stand the chance of losing your tree.

How Do You Treat Juniper Scales?

Scales are small crawling bugs that eat away at the needles and are hard to see with the naked eye. The best solution is an oil spray or insecticide that you apply to the leaves early in the morning. You should also use it when you see they are the most active and cover the entire bonsai.

Juniper tree

General Guide

This guide wouldn’t be the ultimate article on Juniper bonsai trees if we only looked at how to care for them. We also have some other details you may be interested in here below. We’ve mainly collected some of the top questions people always ask about the Juniperus genus and applied them to bonsais.

Is A Juniper Bonsai A Real Bonsai?

While many refer to them as Juniper shrubs, especially in Japan, it’s actually one of the most popular bonsais worldwide. You’ll find them in most nursery stores and online shops, while you’ll also see them at markets and bonsai festivals. It’s undeniable that Juniper trees are real bonsais.

The beauty lies in the style, shape, and needle color. You can extend your creative arts and design an absolutely stunning piece in your garden. The blue varieties are our favorite, as they look so exquisite.

What Is The Difference Between Juniper And Cypress?

The first aspect we need to explain in the Juniper vs. Cypress debate is that the Juniperus genus is actually part of the cypress family. However, there’s also a cypress genus, Cupressus, that’s its cousin. It’s here that many people make comparisons to see which is the best to grow as a bonsai.

The most significant difference is the size. Junipers grow to about 45 ft, while there are cypresses that are as high as 70 ft. The former is also known for spreading more wide than high, while cypresses usually extend in height. You’ll notice Junipers look more like shrubs, and cypresses look like tall tapering spires.

Are Juniper Bonsai Good For Beginners?

We absolutely recommend the Juniperus bonsai tree for beginners. It can handle drought and frost conditions, and you won’t need to stress too much about daily watering. While the can be challenging to propagate, a mature Juniper is easy to maintain.

Another benefit for beginners is that it’s easy to shape and style. The branches are pliable, and you can bend them at most angles for the ideal design. Of course, younger wood is easier to shape than more mature trees. If you’ve never seen one, check our guide on what a juniper tree looks like.

How Long Do Juniper Trees Live?

While Juniper trees grow slowly, they can live up to 700 years in the wild. They won’t exceed a certain height, but their needles and trunks will continue to thrive for centuries. Of course, you and your children and great-grandchildren will need to take extra care of your bonsai to keep it alive for that long. They’ll develop a specific meaning to your and your lineage.

How Do I Know If My Juniper Bonsai Is Healthy?

If you’re not sure if your Juniperus bonsai is healthy, use your finger to scrape off the bark until you reach the cambium. If you see green, then it’s still going strong. The only time you need to worry is if it’s brown and you can’t find any green, which means that part of the tree is dying or dead.

How Do You Revive A Juniper Bonsai Tree?

When you discover that your Juniper bonsai is dying, you still stand a chance to revive it. It’s not the end just yet. You’ll need to remove any dead sections from the tree by checking if the cambium is brown. Then, repot your bonsai in new soil after pruning the roots. Place it in bright sunlight and make sure you soak it in water.

Juniper tree

Top Juniperus Bonsai Species

There are many different Juniper tree types. We’re sure you’d like to turn many of them into bonsai trees. However, there are only some of them that we really like. Also, we’ll add links to the care sheets for more details.

Juniper Tree Bonsai Inspiration

One aspect of buying a Juniperus bonsai tree for sale is shaping and styling it. When you start the process, it can be challenging to know where to begin. We’ve had several ideas over the years, and even we sometimes can’t decide what to do with the Juniper tree next.

Well, we’ve come up with some ideas you can try. There are some amazing profiles online by experts on Instagram who know what they are doing. Many of them have provided the foundation for some of the Juniper bonsai styles we cultivated in the end. You can also look at these YouTube videos we’ve selected for you.

Finally, there are the Juniper Botanical Gardens you can read more about. Started as a private garden, it has a wide range of Juniperus species that look stunning. You may even get ideas for simulating similar landscapes.

Juniper tree

Final Thoughts

Growing a Juniper bonsai tree can be exhilarating, especially when you own several different species. While many of them may not be available in our area, we still try and obtain them by any means necessary. We also love the scent of the leaves when we rub them between our fingers.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this massive article on the Juniperus bonsai. Please contact us if there’s anything else you’d like to know. We’ll also try to answer them on our Brainly and Quora channels. If there’s anything we’ve missed, we’ll add them as additional content on our page.

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