Let's talk about Junipers April 21, 2015 22:31
About Juniper Bonsai Trees
The Juniper is the number one choice among bonsai buyers, particularly as gifts and beginner trees. It isn't surprising considering that when you think of a bonsai tree, the image that usually springs to mind is of an evergreen tree and of all the evergreen trees, nothing grows as easily as a Juniper.
Unlike other evergreen conifers like spruce or pine, the Juniper is the only tree that can live indoors BUT there are different kinds of Juniper and only Juniper procumbens "nana" will live indoors. The other two most commonly found bonsai junipers, Juniper Chinensis - the Chinese Juniper and it's very popular variety J. Chinensis "Shimpaku" better known as the Shimpaku Juniper or Sargent's Juniper MUST be kept outdoors.
Caring for a juniper kept indoors is relatively easy. If possible, let it spend the summer outdoors and during the winter months, give it bright, indirect sunlight, a slightly cool spot and enough water to keep it slightly moist- but not wet. It's also not a bad idea to mist your indoor juniper during the winter months as it is attractive to spider mites which like the dry air.
If you notice that your Juniper is looking brown, check first to be certain that you're not underwatering it, or overwatering (which will easily rot the roots). Then look for fine webs and tiny red mites.
The best way that I have found to shape Junipers is with a combination of pinching new foliage and scissor trimming. As is the case with all conifers, never prune too heavily. A branch loses most of its foliage will easily die off. Junipers start the growing season by producing many new buds and leaves after which the new shoots etend and fill out through the Summer until early Autumn.
The foliage can be repeatedly pinched out or scissor-trimmed to shape throughout the growing season but you need to be careful to ensure that, with repeated pruning the foliage mass doesn't become too dense or it will block light and air to the lower branches causing them to weaken and potentially dieback. So, thin out the foliage mass (once or twice a year) to ensure good distribution of air and light to all the brnaches. Junipers should be pruned using either the scissor pruning or pinching out technique. Foliage or shoot growth that is too strong to be pinched should be trimmed with scissors.
However; the soft foliage tips of a Juniper must be pinched out. Using scissors on this type of growth will turn the tips brown. The foliage tips of a Juniper contain a 'weak point'. Hold the tip of the shoot between your finger and thumb and gently pull, the weak point of the shoot will break off cleanly. If you use your fingernails (or anything else) to cut the new green shoots you'll likely get browning.