FreckleSpeckles
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Location: Louisiana, zone 9a

Juniper Bonsai newbie help (for 9a zone)?

:) Hello everyone, I've been wanting to get a bonsai tree for some years now, and I finally got one a couple of days ago (by chance, there was a couple selling them on the side of the road. I figured buying one from a more home-grown kinda guy would be better than from a store like Wal-mart or whatever). However, the instructions I got had mainly said to go to a website for more information, and the site is no longer there, so it seems I need a new source for information.

I'm keen to know more about caring for bonsai style trees. I currently have a small collection of succulents (which I keep inside by a window), so I'm finding so far that the care for my new juniper tree is very different from what I'm currently used to doing for my plants. I want to make sure I care for it properly, so I need some guidance.

I assume my tree is either dormant right now or it will be, going by what I've researched so far, but I'm not sure (I'm in Louisiana, so it doesn't snow or anything like it does up north. We might get a frost if it gets "really cold", but it's not standard affair, so I don't know how much of what I read about dormancy would apply to my situation, or what I specifically have to do for it. Winter tends to be like 20-40F for us). I'm not sure if it should still be outside or if I should move it somewhere (I saw one source that said people would move bonsais into their garage, but I wasn't sure why they would do that). At the moment I have it on a shelf railing of my gazebo (see attached picture), so it's rather shaded due to the roof and nearby trees, but still outside. Should it be moved into a completely sunny area (where it may be in danger of being maimed by the heavy rain we get), or a less sunny one (at least for the winter)?

My tree looks to have wire by the roots, and is in a bonsai pot with drainage holes (I had just watered it at the time of the photo). Its leaves are a little yellowed, but the man I got it from said they do that in winter and would be fine again when spring comes around. Is that true?

Any advice for a newbie would be appreciated (I'm trying to collect all the info I can, because though I'm on holiday at the moment and can care for it, I have one more semester of college left, so I'll need to leave it in the care of my parents, and thus relay information to them as well as learn about it myself. :? Probably should have waited to get one until graduation, but it was a rare opportunity I had to jump on).
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juniper bonsai small.jpg

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Juniper Bonsai newbie help (for 9a zone)?

Your juniper bonsai needs to be outdoors all the time. It will die indoors. It is extremely cold hardy and 20 degrees is nothing for it.

People put them in garages in winter sometimes to have an unheated space with a bit of protection, when they live in very cold climates, with hail and heavy snows, that might break it. In your climate it doesn't need that.

The wire is to keep it securely in the pot.

People who know more than I do can answer the rest of the questions.
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tomc
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Re: Juniper Bonsai newbie help (for 9a zone)?

Welcome FS,

You will want to amend either profile or signature line with some mention of your Louisiana location.

Your juniper is an outdoor-only tree. It is very hearty in your zone. Airconditioning-heat will mummify it.

You have plenty of time before you need to prune or fertilize. Its the old phrase is measure twice, cut once.
Think like a tree
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Juniper Bonsai newbie help (for 9a zone)?

tom, the questions I didn't want to try to answer, are about full sun (and heavy rain) vs part sun (and some protection) and whether OP's tree is actually dormant in Louisiana mild winter.

You might want to also say something about bonsai soil. I couldn't really tell from the picture whether it is in an appropriate soil (soil-less mix) or not.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

FreckleSpeckles
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Joined: Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:42 pm
Location: Louisiana, zone 9a

Re: Juniper Bonsai newbie help (for 9a zone)?

Yes, rainbowgardener, that's a nice summary of my questions. And here's a better picture of the soil.

(Also, do you still water it every day if it's dormant, or less so? I've read info that seems it could go either way?)
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soil close up.jpg
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tomc
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Re: Juniper Bonsai newbie help (for 9a zone)?

Cool-cold weather is only part of the solar cycle. Day length is an even bigger slice o the pie. And will go a long way as a governor for your tree.

As a tree takes up less (water & nutrients) soil sits stews and breaks down. Now is a prime time to use a chop stick to check soil for dryness. and water accordingly. And only water when soil is dry.

If the tree gets the correct amount of water it could be possible to delay repotting for 4 to 6 weeks.

North american soil is roughly 1/2 stoney grit (like sand or granite grit--chicken scratch) and half coarse organic material like bark mulch-soil conditioner.

In new soil I often add a little osmocoat pellets. But thats me and it is for spring use (not winter).

Soiless mixes like promix are inadaquate to your need. it is not just as good. Peat moss, sphagnum moss, loess, are too fine and will drown your tree. You gotta move to like Saigon to use them in your soil.
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tomc
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Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Re: Juniper Bonsai newbie help (for 9a zone)?

Full inderect sunlight on a porch rail is fine if you learn how to water your tree.

Juniper can redden with low light levels. Its ok and natural.

Yellowing however and wet soil tells you its being overwatered.

As a resident of the deep south, collect a couple bald cypress after graduation.
Think like a tree
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