Bonsai are traditionally grown out-of-doors, and are brought inside only for display. Though your juniper bonsai will tolerate full sun, you may find yourself having to water daily. The ideal circumstance which would give it sufficient sunlight, while reducing the need to water often, would be morning sun with afternoon shade. Light shade all day long would be O.K. too.

Tradition aside, an indoor placement would be fine, so long as the tree recieves at least two hours of direct sunlight per day. Do not set it where air from an air conditioner or heat vent blows on it.


Water when the soil looks and feels dry on the surface. Under most conditions this will occur every two or three days. After a while you will be able to tell by "heft" when watering is needed.

To water, set the pot in water almost rim deep, for 1/2 to 1 hour, saturating the soil through the holes in the bottom. Don't leave your bonsai standing in the water all the time, that would cause root rot.

A proper cycle of watering will cause the soil to vary from a good soaking to being somewhat dry.

As with any potted plant, don't use water that has been through a water softener. In areas where there is a high concentration of minerals in the water, leach the soil by occasionally flushing it with distilled water.

Insect Control

Spider mites are the natural enemy of all junipers, and are especially bad indoors. Spray at least once a month with any insecticide intended for your household plants. "Shultz's Household Plant Spray" is widely available and works well. Also, be sure to spray other nearby plants which may be harbouring mites.


An element of keeping your bonsai as a miniature tree is to allow it only enough plant food to stay healthy, without rapid growth. Watering it with a half-strength solution of fertilizer once every six weeks or so, during the Spring and early Summer will be enough. We use "Miracle Grow" on our personal bonsai.


In the Spring, and possibly again in the Fall, buds will form on the branch tips. If these buds aren't removed by pinching, fast growing limbs will develop, resulting in a ragged appearance. Don't be shy about pinching off new growth; the bonsai's appearance is dependent on your personal input, and as with any art form, becomes a personal expression of it's owner.

Root Pruning

Every other Spring, your bonsai will need to have it's roots pruned, to prevent it from becoming too root bound. Take the tree from it's pot, and carefully remove some of the soil from around the rootball. Trim off 1/3 of the roots, all the way around. Return the plant to it's pot, using a mixture of household potting soil with 1/3 part sand added, to replace the lost soil. Soak it in a solution of vitamin b-1 transplant shock supplement, and mist with water a couple of times a day for two weeks.


Your juniper bonsai does best if it has a "Winter" to complete it's natural cycle. Place it in a cool room during the Winter, the cooler the better. Freezing will not hurt it, so long as it isn't subjected to a rapid rise in temperature. If it is cool enough (50 degrees F or less) indirect light will be sufficient. Watering requirements will be much reduced.

If you can't simulate Winter, and must keep the bonsai in your living area, be sure to place it where it will receive the minimum sunlight requirement. Whenever your bonsai is kept indoors at room temperature, be sure to humidify it by misting it a couple of times a day. Spraying for mites also becomes more important.

Taken from "Juniper Bonsai Care Instructions", a pamphlet provided with the purchase of the Juniper Bonsai.

It's a Fact: The juniper bonsai is one of the hardier species of bonsai trees, and is easy to start with for beginners!

Another fact: This node put me at level three. Yay!

The above is very good, but one important fact is missing. Junipers have two distinctly different types of foliage. While your typical bonsai owner is probably going to kill the plant before it reaches maturation since most people will be getting a spindly little bush not a tree, that shouldn't stop you from knowing (knowing is half the battle).

The juvenile foliage of a juniper is dense and has a scaled appearance, as if the scales were emerging from the bark like shingles. They are broader, greener, and more dense than than the mature foliage. I personally think they are more attractive, however it is impossible to keep them, because a branch that has been around for a year or more can turn into a mature branch.

The mature foliage looks more like a pine trees, the needles are distinct, they shoot more perpedicular to the bark, and they are thinner. It is on these branches that the juniper will create berries. This is very beautiful, because the berries are the same size as on a full juniper, and if you pretend you're one of those clay chinese wise men, the berries become big blue apples. That is, apples of the type commonly found on evergreens by clay chinese men who have had one too many poppy seeds.

The real challenge for a bonsai grower is not whether to choose mature or juvenile, because juvenile will become mature. The trick is to make the tree look good and real with both types. This came as a shock to me about three years ago when the first mature foliage sprung up on my three year old juniper (which had a difficult start in a tiny pot). I had my father clone several so I could try different things. While my first juniper has almost completely changed to mature (except the new growth, which I pinch back), I am now experiencing the same problem on my clones.

My solution to the first was just to let it happen. Until I talked to my grandfather, I had no clue of what was happening, and assumed the tree was dying because suddenly the foliage looked sparse and browner (or maybe less blue, as junipers typically are). He explained it to me, so now I am currently trying to figure out how to deal with this on my new trees. So far, I have removed the needles on a few branches to separate the two types, which looks cruel and is counterproductive. I have tried on one to continually cut it to ward off the mature branches (because after a good cutting or repotting, the tree resorts to junvenile branches) which has worked so far, but is probably not a good long term strategy. My best solution was to train the tree in a very tradition manner, with an upright trunk and horizontal branches, which makes the mature foliage look like a tree within a tree. However, junipers are very low and like to contort themselves, so this isn't really in the spirit of the plant, and it's sort of ugly because junipers look much better twisty.

Also, I have yet to force the tree to create needleless branches, which would probably be best, this way you can make groupings of juvenile foliage and as it turns into mature, you make it bare, so that you've got long branches capped in dense blue-green scales.

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