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Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:31 pm
Location: Fort Collins, CO

transitioning juniper to dormancy?

I'm new to the bonsai art. i purchased a nana juniper (sp?) from a local nursery here in Colorado and in my research didn't come across the fact that they're not well suited to indoor climates. poor research perhaps, but nonetheless.

the tree did well until the middle of winter when it began to dry up (this was about two or three weeks ago). I continued watering it, by keeping track of the soil's moisture and watering to keep the soil moist by submersing the pot.

after reading several posts, I realized that I need to help the tree attain its dormant state. So, after watering it this morning, I put it outside in the sun and the temperature is right around forty degrees.

How do I best help the tree make a transition to dormancy?
and, what how should I water it?

thanks for any advice.


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


Don't feel too bad, every year we see a spate of these situations. These Junipers should not be sold to the unwary consumer who often assume they can be kept indoors. No doubt the vast majority are relegated to a slow death. If 40F is representative of your climate then I think just leaving it outside is your best bet.

I am often unsure how to advise novices in this situation, leaving it inside is a bad choice but putting it outside in extremely cold temperatures is problematic as well. You are lucky that your climate is not too cold. I think you did the right thing. If you should get a cold snap you could shelter it temporarily. Next year, if it survives, it should be left outside all fall and winter. Mine is outside now and we dropped to 6F last night.


Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 7:31 pm
Location: Fort Collins, CO

Thanks for the insight, Norm.

Should I water it and in what way?


Greener Thumb
Posts: 1436
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 12:07 am
Location: Airmont, NY Zone 6/7

Just a FWIW...

I'm currently attempting the impossible with a J. horizontalis. Going in, I knew the recommendations, the risks, and the chance of failure. So, I don't hold out any long-term hope. That said, here's what I've been doing and discovered so far...

The tree is in a southward facing greenhouse window open also to the east and west, though the east side is somewhat shaded. This window seems to "catch" the cold from outside and keep it. It's almost like the home heating and outside temp fight a battle at the boundary between the window and the kitchen. While the kitchen is 70ºF, the temperature in the window can be as low as 60º, sometimes lower. The tree is kept on the upper rack where it can get the most sun.

Under these conditions, the tree seems to be doing okay, so far, and is wired and partially pruned. It's being kept in a mix of inorganic media (lave/pumice) and pine bark, about 2:1. It NEEDS to be thoroughly watered at least twice per day, sometimes three times, and I also mist the area during that time.

That's not to say that you can keep Junipers indoors, only that this is what I have been doing that has prevented the plant from dying in the short time that I've had it.

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