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krazykikikat,
Well just about every day, the soil around the root ball looks a bit dry, so I mist it a bit. Is this okay?
No, the reason the soil is drying daily is because you are only 'misting it a bit'. Misting is not a substitute for actually watering your tree. By misting like this you are never actually wetting the soil thoroughly so it dries out much sooner than if it were watered properly.

Read the sticky thread about general growing tips for a description of watering. In a nutshell, always water thoroughly, to the point of saturation then do not water again until the tree requires it, never on a schedule. Even in the winter you should follow this pattern it will just take longer before you need to water again.

You mentioned that you have already re-potted but you have not described the type of soil you used. Junipers dislike being in heavy, water retentive soil. Mine is happy in an almost completely, as in 95%, inorganic mix, no peat, no potting soil, just a little bark. Hopefully you and your friend researched bonsai soils before you jumped into this.


Norm

krazykikikat
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I just got the cheapest soil there was... it has some food in it.
I'm having a lot of trouble cutting unwanted branches flush to the trunk. I may need to get some specialized tools... which would you recommend as must-haves?

alexinoklahoma
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Wow - you need to slow it down, LOL. There should not be *any* pruning at this time of year of evergreens. Except for a few 'special' species, but in general, no pruning early winter ;-)

And just to toss this in: dormancy is most strongly influenced by the shortening of daylight length, with lowering temps only playing a small role. The fridge bit is very tricky to do properly as you *must* provide gradually shorter days so the chemicals the tree has within can do their adjustments and put the tissue(s) into 'sleep', so to speak. Much more than just setting it into fridge, fwiw.

I highly recommend reading (and understanding it) all or most of this URL -> www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm Learn how the 'auxins' influence regrowths after pruning, plus how proper soil (loose, gritty, and free-draining, per se) makes all the difference, etc, etc, etc...

There's a LOT to learn, and answering a question at a time will take months, trust me, LOL. At this point, hunker down and read - then ask what isn't understood. Patience now will reward you (and trees) with better results later (promise you that!)

*Never* use store-bought cheapo soil (like 'potting soil'); the reading I said above will explain why in great detail for you :-) Also, do not use the 'already-fertilized soil' as you should be in control of ferts, not soil, LOL. Some cactus soils are OK to use as a part of a soil-mix, but its best to look at them as a second-choice material. Better (and often cheaper) stuff is easily found, IME.

I did not read all of this thread, so if I missed something or such, oops ;-)

HTH,
Alex

krazykikikat
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Well, are there deciduous that can be pruned in winter?
I bought a book, and read it... but there are still so many little things unanswered.
I know that growing a bonsai takes patience, I'm just eager to get started.

And when you say no pruning in winter... does that mean that I should have just left it as a normal juniper, or not even have bought it at all? I really have to wait till spring to do anything to it?

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krazykikikat,

does that mean that I should have just left it as a normal juniper, or not even have bought it at all?
Purchasing it was not the problem. The issue is the injudicious timing of your actions. You are trying to do too much too soon at the wrong time of year.
I really have to wait till spring to do anything to it?
You've already re-potted and pruned it at an awkward time of year what else would you like to do? If you intend to work with temperate species you need to spend the rest of the winter doing research.

You have not answered my question regarding the quality of your soil.

Norm

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Gnome wrote:krazykikikat,

does that mean that I should have just left it as a normal juniper, or not even have bought it at all?
Purchasing it was not the problem. The issue is the injudicious timing of your actions. You are trying to do too much too soon at the wrong time of year.
I really have to wait till spring to do anything to it?
You've already re-potted and pruned it at an awkward time of year what else would you like to do? If you intend to work with temperate species you need to spend the rest of the winter doing research.

You have not answered my question regarding the quality of your soil.

Norm
I meant, should I have waited until spring to do anything with it, and if that was the case, might I just as well have bought it then?

The soil has peat moss, perlite, fertilizer, and a "moistening agent"... Sounds exactly wrong, doesn't it? My horticulture friend picked it out, I trusted he knew what he was doing...
Won't be making that mistake again.

So should I leave it in this soil, or uproot it again and put it in something better? And what should I look for in bonsai soil?

Anyway, I was wondering if there are plants that are safe to work on now, in the winter. I know I sound impatient... and honestly I am, but at least I'm researching now before I damage anything else. I would like to work on multiple bonsai at once.

I have what looks like a cotoneaster, though I can't be sure, in my front yard, and two Japanese maples and a crabapple in my back yard. Is there anything I could do with those now?

Also... is there a good resource for identifying trees/shrubs? I compared the picture in my bonsai book to the shrub I have, and it's similar.. but I really can't tell if its a cotoneaster. The berries are more of an elliptical shape, and aren't clumped together as much, and the branches have sharp little thorns. Just trying to figure out what it is..

Sorry for asking so many questions. I've read a lot online and in my book but I still have so many.

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krazykikikat,
I meant, should I have waited until spring to do anything with it, and if that was the case, might I just as well have bought it then?
Yes and yes. It is the wrong time of year to do much of anything with temperates species but that's water under the dam now.
The soil has peat moss, perlite, fertilizer, and a "moistening agent"... Sounds exactly wrong, doesn't it? My horticulture friend picked it out, I trusted he knew what he was doing...
Won't be making that mistake again.
I avoid peat moss. It is too finely textured for my liking and difficult to wet, I assume the moistening agent is used to overcome this quality. Once wet peat, retains water for too long. In some climates, with some species coarse peat (sphagnum Peat?) might be appropriate. It's not for me in my climate and I have real doubts about using it for a Juniper anywhere.

Some growers do use slow release fertilizer in their soils but most probably would say they prefer to be in charge of fertilization themselves. Perlite is a decent component although some dislike its looks and the fact that it can float is annoying. I use Perlite as a component when I have a bunch of seedlings to re-pot and don't want to use 'premium' components.
So should I leave it in this soil, or uproot it again and put it in something better? And what should I look for in bonsai soil?
Leave it for now, you've done too much recently. This is a much debated and sometimes confusing subject, I can't possible condense it into a few paragraphs. Read this and do make sure to follow the links.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422
Anyway, I was wondering if there are plants that are safe to work on now, in the winter. I know I sound impatient... and honestly I am, but at least I'm researching now before I damage anything else.
As noted earlier, tropicals are plants that can be grown indoors, although some tropicals are best re-potted during summer. Look into this book.
'Bonsai in your home' by Paul Lesniewicz. ISBN 0-8069-0781-9
I have what looks like a cotoneaster, though I can't be sure, in my front yard, and two Japanese maples and a crabapple in my back yard. Is there anything I could do with those now?/quote] These three species are all used in bonsai but once again this is the wrong season to do work on temperate species. Spend the coming months doing research.

https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/articles.htm
https://www.bonsai4me.com/Basics.html
https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/SpeciesIntro.html

Norm

EDIT: Something to give a little inspiration.

https://www.dallasbonsai.com/bonsai_tree_care_TomM_JuniperProcumbens1.html

krazykikikat
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Okay, thanks.
And the peat is sphagnum, and it is a somewhat desert-y area... would that be okay then?

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krazykikikat,
it is a somewhat desert-y area... would that be okay then?
Some growers in some climates use some peat for some species. If it sounds like I am being noncommittal, I am. Everybody's climate is different for one thing. Juniper is not a species that needs peat in most climates and since I have no direct knowledge of yours I am unsure. But if I were to guess I would suspect that a commercial potting mix will be far too heavy in peat. A bonsai grower would only use coarse peat as a component of their mix. Regardless, don't fool with it now.

Norm

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