Juniper Bonsai Tree Care

The word bonsai is a combination of two words "bon" and "sai". It simply means "a plant in a tray". Juniper is one of the most frequently chosen trees for bonsai art by lay men. Juniper bonsai tree has become widely known after the movie "The Karate Kid" had appeared on our screens.



Short history of Juniper bonsai

Over 50 species of evergreen trees and crawling shrubs are of Juniperus genus. Some Juniper tree bonsai species are native to North America while other came from Japan. Juniper bonsai seems similar to a little pine tree. Generally, Juniper is considered to be an outdoor bonsai tree, and is brought inside only for display. It is possible to grow Juniper indoors, yet you hold risk that your bonsai Juniper may die due to lack of light and humidity.

General description of Juniper sub-species

CHINESE JUNIPER BONSAI (or JUNIPERUS CHINENSIS). The classic Juniper is a natural hybrid of Chinese juniper. Usually chosen for outdoor cultivation.

SHIMPAKU JUNIPER (or SARGENT JUNIPER) was originally found in Japan. It is a variation of Chinese Juniper bonsai (or JUNIPERUS CHINENSIS). Shimpaku Juniper bonsai is praised for its tender foliage. It can be kept in rather harsh conditions. Shimpaku grow their roots immediately, so you can provide oversize pot as soon as you decide to get Shimpaku Juniper.

CALIFORNIA JUNIPER is native to southern North America. It has not easily bendable trunk. The bark is thin and "shredded". This species of Juniper is about deadwood shapes. Tolerates heat and dry weather.

Leaves and trunk

Juniper bonsai have two different types of foliages. The juvenile foliage is greener, broader, and denser than the scale-like mature foliage. Mature foliage looks similar to pine trees whereas juvenile bonsai has needle-like leaves. Foliage can be of various colours varying from light green to steely blue.

Flowers and fruit

Juniper bonsai trees are non-flowering conifers.

Tolerance to sun

Juniper is a hardy bonsai tree, thus can be kept outside in rather harsh winters. But the temperature should not exceed 15 degrees. This bonsai tree would thrive in full sun. But the best position for Juniper bonsai would be morning sun with afternoon shade. Juniper can tolerate full sun, yet you may have to water it everyday. If kept inside Juniper bonsai should get at least two hours of direct sunlight per day. However temperature fluctuations should be kept to a minimum, so do not position the tree near the air conditioner or radiators which dry the surrounding air.


Repotting is needed every two years. The best time for repotting is middle of spring. It is suggested to use free-draining soil mix for repotting Juniper.


Juniper should be watered depending on dry soil on the surface. Probably you will have to water it every two or three days. However if it is kept indoors Juniper bonsai would be pleased to be humidifies by misting a couple of times a day. Bonsai trees do not like "wet feet" which may cause root rot, so do not keep Juniper in water all the time.

Pests and diseases

Juniper has root rot rather frequently due to over watering. As living trees, bonsai are susceptible to insect attacks and disease. Red spider mites are the most frequent problem, especially indoors. You may suspect that your Juniper have spider mites due to presence of a yellowing leaves and weak new shoots. It is not difficult to deal with this problem by using chemical or organic pesticides.

Shaping Junipers

Bonsai roots should be pruned every two years in spring or fall. Carefully remove some soil from the rootball. Also foliage should be pinched out constantly during growth season. However some foliage should be left on the tree to keep it alive. Remove new shoots with your fingers instead of using scissors which will make needles dry and brown. Use power tools such as wires to shape Juniper bonsai. Wiring is preferable throughout growing period. Fertilization is preferable in early spring.


Bonsai Juniper will do well in all styles except broom.

Summary for Juniper bonsai

Juniper bonsai trees are long lasting treasure. It can live for 200 years! This type of bonsai trees is a good choice if you want an outside plant because Juniper can stay outside even in harsh winter. Since it is one of the hardiest species of bonsai trees, it is a very good choice for beginner enthusiasts.