garmy yo
Cool Member
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:19 pm
Location: Longmont, Colorado

How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

Would anyone care to give me some input on how to go about pruning this juniper into a bonzai? I bought 5 plants from the local box store on sale for only $3 per; more for the experience of designing, wiring, and potting than to actually end up with anything special.
I am a nooby, and stumped as to how to go about designing this tree. The trunk has a sharp turn to the left, in line with the slant, which I like. But if I keep it, I think I have to cut off all the lower branches, so I am left with only a trunk and a canopy, which might be a bit boring.
Attachments
P1090382.jpg

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

I am the furthest thing from an expert on bonsai styling. But honestly, if you just got your little trees, I would recommend doing nothing. The first thing you need to do is learn how to keep your trees alive and healthy.

You do know that your junipers need to stay out doors year around? They die indoors. Also the soil they are in, looks to be all wrong for bonsai (or really any potted tree). Your soil (as near as I can tell from a photo) looks to be very heavy- possibly even more than regular potting soil, might have at least some topsoil in it.

You don't want to do anything about that now - if you live in any kind of cold winter country, your juniper will be going dormant soon anyway. But the first thing you should do in early spring is re-pot it in to good bonsai soil. https://www.helpfulgardener.com/bonsai/03/soil.html

In the meantime, you can spend the winter reading and learning about bonsai care and styling and studying your tree. Make drawings of it, which will help you find the line you want. Then you will be more ready next year to start cutting. You can ruin your tree for a long time by rushing into cutting, before you have a good sense of what you are doing.

Welcome to the Forum! :)
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

garmy yo
Cool Member
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:19 pm
Location: Longmont, Colorado

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

Thanks for reply, rainbow. Unfortunately, before I read your post, I went crazy with the pruning. But for only $3, I'm not too worried about the outcome at this point.
Now my learning is focused on keeping my trees alive during the winter. I will leave them on my east-facing balcony until the weather gets below 20 F or so, then I will move them to the unheated garage.
The pot is very root bound. I was planning on cutting off the bottom 1/3 roots and replace with a well draining mix.
Attachments
P1090410.jpg
Last edited by garmy yo on Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

garmy yo,

RBG has given you good advice, take heed. Additionally, you stated:
But if I keep it, I think I have to cut off all the lower branches, so I am left with only a trunk and a canopy
This is a common misconception that beginners often harbor. While it is true that mature bonsai generally have a portion of bare trunk, this is not appropriate for a young tree. Cut nothing now, instead concentrate on the basics first. Where are you located?

User avatar
Gnome
Mod
Posts: 5122
Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

garmy yo,

You replied while I was composing my post. Moving forward, don't root-prune now. Leave the root-ball intact until next year.

garmy yo
Cool Member
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:19 pm
Location: Longmont, Colorado

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

Thanks, Gnome
I live in Colorado. Hot, dry summers. Long, cold winters. Not ideal for bonsai. I've had a couple indoor bonsai for a few years, and this is my first attempt at outdoors.
I may get a couple more trees while supplies last, and not touch them until spring..

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11615
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

juniper are outside plant and don't really like to be indoors. It is fairly cold hardy in most places. Keep it outside as long as you can.

if you want to try an indoor bonsai, try a ficus, or jade bonsai which are more tolerant of being indoors.

Also just because a tree is in a pot, it is not a bonsai. You have gotten good advice, first learn the basics on how to keep the tree alive. Find the right spot for it and get it to grow out some and acclimate.

Usually a bonsai tells you what it wants to be. You should study the tree and before you clip, imagine the form you want it to take, but if a juniper wants to cascade, it is better to make a cascade rather than a formal upright. The beauty in a well groomed bonsai is the shape of the trunk and branches. It is especially desirable to have a plant that has character.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

garmy yo
Cool Member
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:19 pm
Location: Longmont, Colorado

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

Thanks, imafan
We got our first frost last night and this tree is out there getting ready for her long winter's nap..

garmy yo
Cool Member
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:19 pm
Location: Longmont, Colorado

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

Here is a picture of my set up to get my potensai through the winter.
Plastic bin. Two inches of mulch on the bottom. The rest of the mulch spread around and over the pots. When it gets really cold I can put the lid on. When it gets extremely cold I can move it to the garage.
I will update in the spring as to the survival rate..
Attachments
P1090485.jpg

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

Just nest that blue tote into garden bed up to its new soil-line, Cut in some drains into blue tote.

Water frozen. Cover loosely when its all frozen tight.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

garmy yo
Cool Member
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:19 pm
Location: Longmont, Colorado

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

Update photo:
Styled and coming out of dormancy..
Now, what to do with that large Jin..
Attachments
DSCF7286.jpg

garmy yo
Cool Member
Posts: 76
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:19 pm
Location: Longmont, Colorado

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

Update:
re-potted, added moss, and growing like a weed. I think I will wait until next winter to work on the jin.
Attachments
DSCF7658.jpg

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Re: How to Prune $3 Juniper into a Bonsai?

Moss can be desirable when its time to present your tree for judging (say at the county fair),

Mostly I find it like acne. disfiguring and problematic for care of my trees. For instance, are you watering for moss, or the tree?

At this time what-cha got is a stick inna pot. its OK we all start out there. While I think you did a good job of tensioning your wire, it neither changes the angle of growth, nor the speed of maturation.

Copper when added to soil slows growth. That wire acts against your need for bulk. Even though it looks to still have its insulation intact.

If that was my tree, I would seek out the biggest colander or pond basket I could buy, I would use soil specifically for bonsai, and give your tree bab(ies) room to grow.

In the fall I would nest this kind of tree in a garden up to its rim in garden soil and cover over with leaves.

You are eight to fifteen years away from styling.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

Return to “BONSAI FORUM”