How to Care for a Sick or Dying Juniper Bonsai Plant


The juniper bonsai is a hardy, rapidly-growing evergreen. This non-flowering tree is tolerant to pruning and adjusts comfortably to its surroundings. Still, this bonsai is intolerant to wet feet and requires intermittent periods of natural, outdoor sunlight even when grown as an indoor tree. Wilt, defoliation, droop and a lackluster color are just some of the signs that your ill juniper bonsai will display. Regardless of the illness, it is important to address the decline immediately to ensure its quick recovery.

Step 1

Take a good look at your ailing bonsai. Look for wilt, defoliation and adverse symptoms. Inspect for potential causes, such as insect infestation, powdery mildew, wounds or burnt needles.

Step 2

Use sharp, sterile pruning shears to trim away any dead, dying branches. Make a slightly angular cut to promote rapid healing. Handle the juniper bonsai gently to avoid further damage or injury.

Step 3

Remove dead, wilted and damaged needles and stems, pinching with your thumb and forefinger. Prune the juniper's needles to promote increased air circulation and light penetration throughout the tree's interior.

Step 4

Remove the juniper bonsai from its container and inspect its root system. Remove the excessive soil from the roots. Look for signs of root bound where the juniper's roots are so compacted within the container that they have nowhere to go. Look for signs of root rot where they are water-soaked, mushy or dried and hollowed.

Step 5

Use sharp, sterile pruning shears or scissors to prune away the damaged areas. Trim back dead roots individually and as close to the root ball as possible without causing further damage. Trim back wilted roots, individually, back into the healthy area of the root. Make flush, sharp cuts. Avoid trimming more than one third of the root system, unless absolutely necessary, as recommended by Bonsai for Beginners.

Step 6

Repot the juniper bonsai in a clean, fresh container. Choose a well-drained container that has a width and depth that is slight larger than that of the juniper, as recommended by Bonsai4me.

Step 7

Mix your own soil or purchase a bonsai soil mixture. Incorporate equal amounts of nutrient rich soil, perlite and organic compost, thoroughly, to create your own. Fill the bottom third of the container with a layer of soil. Center your juniper bonsai in the container. Fill the container with the soil mixture while making sure that all the roots are covered with soil. Press the soil firmly around your juniper to secure its upright position.

Step 8

Place the newly repotted juniper bonsai in the sink. Fill the sink with tepid water until the water reaches just above the surface of the plant. Allow your potted juniper to rest in the water until the air bubbles stopping rising to the surface, as recommended by NE Bonsai.

Step 9

Remove the juniper from the sink. Allow the juniper to rest until the water ceases to flow from the drainage system. If possible, simply remove the stopper from the sink without removing the plant, allowing it to rest in the sink.

Step 10

Place your juniper in a warm, sunny location that receives at least eight hours of full sunlight each day. Choose a location that is away from direct temperature variations, such as heating vents, air conditioners and patio grills. Allow the juniper time to adjust to its new establishment.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never fertilize an ailing juniper bonsai.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic Compost
  • Perlite
  • Potting Container
  • Potting Soil
  • Pruning Shears or Scissors
  • Water


  • NE Bonsai: Juniper Bonsai
  • Bonsai For Beginners: Repotting Your Bonsai
  • Bonsai4me: Choosing the Right Pot for Your Bonsai
Keywords: juniper bonsai care, saving juniper bonsai, ailing juniper bonsai

About this Author

Charmayne Smith is a business professional and freelance writer. She has worked in management for successful organizations since 1994. Smith draws on her business background to write articles, and her work has appeared in a variety of online outlets. She holds a degree in business from Cleveland State University.