Juniperus/ Juniper Bonsai Species Guide

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As with all conifers, branches should always be left with enough foliage to support them, never prune so heavily that a branch is almost devoid of foliage or it will die off.

Junipers begin to come to life from early April as temperatures begin to rise at the beginning of the growing season by producing a full flush of new buds and leaves. This is followed by new extending shoots through the Summer until early Autumn.

The foliage mass can be repeatedly pruned to shape throughout the growing season. However, after repeated pruning the foliage mass becomes very dense and can block air and light from getting to the lower and interior branches causing them to weaken and potentially dieback. It is therefore important to thin out the foliage mass periodically to ensure even distribution of air and light to the foliage as a whole.

Pinching and Scissor Pruning Juniper Foliage

Junipers should be pruned using a mixture of two techniques, scissor pruning and pinching out. Foliage or shoot growth that has hardened, or is too strong to be pinched out using the technique described below must simply be cut with scissors. Pinching such growth will require a lot of effort and very often the green bark will come away leaving a very thin piece of lignified wood behind.

Pruning Mature (Scale) and Immature (Needle) Foliage

The tips of immature needle foliage on a Juniper will all tend to extend new growth and will all need to be pruned on a regular basis. However, only a relatively small number of shoots on a mature scale foliage Juniper will extend. It is these shoots that should be pinched, or scissor-cut. Mature, scale, foliage that is not extending does not require pruning and doing so will lead to the dieback of the foliage on that shoot.

pruning juniper bonsai

Scissor-trimming a lignified shoot

However; the soft foliage tips of a Juniper can be pinched out. The foliage tips contain a 'weak point'. By holding the tip of the shoot between the pads of the finger and thumb and gently pulling away, the weak point of the shoot breaks cleanly and the foliage can be removed quickly and simply.

Care must be taken not to use fingernails to apply too much pressure; this will cause the foliage shoot to break at a point where browning off can occur.

pruning juniper bonsai

pruning juniper bonsai

Pinching out the foliage tips


Junipers are easily propagated using several methods. To obtain thick trunks, air-layer branches from mature ground-growing specimens from May to the end of June when the new buds start to extend. Junipers are one of the easiest conifers to air-layer and having rooted, can often be separated from the parent tree by Autumn.

Cuttings are best taken in September and will root from 'heel' cuttings. Use one year old shoots (shoots that appeared in the previous year) and pull away the shoot from the tree leaving a 'heel' of old wood at its base. Once potted up, cuttings can exist for up to 2 years on their own sap without rooting; however new extending foliage and shoots from the cuttings will be indicative of the cutting having new roots.

Pests and diseases Relatively disease free though scale can be a problem. Poor draining water retentive composts regularly cause root rot

Styling All forms except broom in all sizes.

Related links at

Styling Juniper Bonsai Branches : Thinning Out How to prepare Juniper bonsai branches for styling

Styling Juniper Bonsai Branches : Wiring and Placement How to wire and style Juniper bonsai branches

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