Junipers are an evergreen coniferous shrub found extensively in dry forests and mountains across the world. Their leaves are needle-like at first and become scaly as the tree matures. The foliage is blue-green to light green with occasional shades of silver. There are over 50 species of Juniper but the most popular Juniper Bonsais are found in Japan.
Some of the Junipers live for 200 years though there are others that die within two or three years of being turned into bonsais. The classic Juniper bonsai is Chinese Juniper, a natural hybrid species called Juniperus X media.
Juniper is relatively disease free and grows best in sunshine. However, it needs to be protected from the very hot midday sun and frost during extreme winters. Indoors, poor humidity and lighting kills junipers, while over watering, causes root rot. Misting is best for repotted plants and can also avoid root problems. Misting also removes dust that collects on top of leaves, blocking pores.
Junipers can be given high nitrogen fertilizer every two weeks from spring to mid-summer, followed by low nitrogen feed until winter. This can be alternated with an acidic fertilizer such as Miracid for best results.
The plant should be repotted once every two years till the age of 10. The repotting should be done during spring using free-draining soil. The soil should include clean grit or stone so that alkaline deposits don’t harm the plant.
Junipers can be shaped through careful pinching through the growing season. The pinching should be done by fingers, and not by scissors; otherwise the cut ends will turn brown. Also, enough foliage should be left on the plant to protect the branches from withering. The pinching should be gradual, and should never be done when the first leavers sprout. Also, there must be reasonable time gaps between pinching sessions.
Interestingly, Junipers keep their natural shape for several weeks after dying. This, at times, makes it difficult to separate a living Juniper from a dead one.