Many juniper species are popular amongst bonsai enthusiast and one of them is more popular then all the other for the general public. The juniper bonsai is the general idea of a bonsai for a layman person. The juniperus trees are usually some low and crawling shrubs.
Dwarf Garden Juniper
The juniper bonsai is the most popular type of bonsai species. Its popularity in North America increased with the series of film of Karate Kid where Mr Miyagi was a bonsai grower. The juniper bonsai tree in Karate Kid is a dwarf garden juniper also known scientifically as the Juniperus procumbens nana. Big retails store are also selling those garden juniper all year long. Amongst bonsai enthusiast, the garden juniper is not as praised as its public reputation might say. It is often associated with the mallsai, see a bonsai sold in a mall, to first time bonsai grower. The juniper bonsai is an outdoor tree, and inside it will often lack the basic elements like light and humidity.
Another popular juniper bonsai is the “juniperus chinensis sargentii” known by its common name to be the sargeant juniper and the shimpaku juniper. This species is more popular amongst bonsai grower. Having tender foliage then other juniper, the shimpaku is praised by many. It is also resistant to various conditions. The bark becomes attractive with age as it start to peel mildly.
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Rigid Needles juniper
Very similar to the dwarf garden juniper, the rigid needle juniper (Juniperus Rigida) is another popular bonsai candidate. It is also very tolerant to abuse and miscare. It's foliage is composed of some blue-green very sharp needles.
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Basic Juniper Bonsai Care
The juniper bonsai will require full sun in order to thrive and fully develop.
Juniper bonsai don’t like a dry soil but they are not doing well with too much water. The secret is to maintain relative moisture in the soil at all time. Spraying water on the foliage in the summer season could be beneficial and help reduce the need in water.
Feeding and fertilizer
A balanced tree fertilizer is ideal for this tree. However, since it is a conifer, it will require every other feeding an acidic fertilizer in order to maintain green and healthy foliage. Feeding from April to November is appropriate but feeding should be lesser in the hot months of this period or if the tree has been recently repotted.
Juniper Bonsai techniques
Root reduction should be done gradually at each repotting. However, 1/3 of the root ball should be removed, no more. Trimming should be done manually and not with scissors. Using scissors will leave needles brown and dry at the end of the shoot. You should remove the tip of the shoot with your thumb and index by gently turning the shoot in one direction. Trimming should be done for the whole growing period. Pinching will increase the volume of the foliage. Bonsai wiring should be applied at the end of the growing season to prevent wire cutting and too help the dormant wood settle in position during winter time. Reppoting on young plants should be done every other year while mature bonsai speciment should be repotted every 3 to 4 years. Spring is the best time to repot your juniper bonsai as young roots will have time to mature during growing season and be able to face winter cold. Protection from full sun and heavy wind should be provided for 2 months after repotting your juniper bonsai tree.
Juniper Diseases and Pests
Juniper bonsai are susceptible to red spider mites. The first symptoms of red spider mites presence is a yellowing foliage and weak new shoot. To detect spider mite, you should shake your tree over a sheet of white paper, and if many red moving dots appear, then the tree is infested by spider mites. A simple daily spraying of an insecticidal soap should remove the mites after 2 weeks.
Juniper Bonsai Propagation
Most juniper tree used for bonsai are cultivars from the general juniper chinensis specie. Propagation by seed is always possible but seed material do not always reflect the true cultivar such as shimpaku. It is a luck draw, you could get an improved shimpaku or another cultivar with completly different characteristics.
Cuttings is the best method to reproduce a cultivar by 100%. This is also possible to do with juniper trees.
Lastly, Air Layering is possible with juniper but often difficult to achieve because of the growth habits of the juniper.