Thanks to bonsai lovers, Shimpaku Juniper faces extinction threat,


Shimpaku Juniper, which is popularly known as "The Smoke of the Volcano" due to its powerful swirling trunk, was discovered barely a century ago. But in this period it has literally been stripped from its natural surroundings and planted in homes as bonsais. In fact, such has been the craze for this Japanese plant that today it faces extinction on most of the islands where it grew.

This Juniper grows two feet to three feet in height, and spreads out like a shrub. The first foliage is needle like but later it matures into soft scales. It thrives in sunshine though it does not mind shade or wild fluctuations in temperature. It needs a rocky well-drained soil for healthy growth, and should be sprayed daily during the growing season.

It needs to be pruned and wired through the year. The new growth needs to be pinched back to increase branching. The roots should be pruned gradually, and less then a third should be removed at each repotting. The unwanted branches too need regular removal especially during the growing season.

Wiring should ideally be done in early winter so that branches get used to the new position while the tree is dormant. Also, the wiring should be limited to the new wood because the older wood tends to become stiff and brittle. The wire should never be allowed to go through the bark.

The tree should be repotted every alternate year in spring till it reaches the age of ten. After that, the repotting can be done every three to four years. The repotted tree must be protected from wind and direct sun till two months after repotting.

The Juniper foliage turns yellow if it is attacked by red spider mites. You need to spray insecticidal soap or nicotine solution of tobacco soaked overnight in water to get rid of the spider mites.


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