How to Trim a Japanese Juniper Bonsai Tree


Bonsai is the art of growing a miniature tree in a small pot. The art of bonsai originated in China, but moved to Japan with Buddhism and is, in the West, more closely associated with Japan than with China. Japanese junipers, especially dwarf junipers, are commonly grown as bonsai. Junipers are easy to care for and will grow well both indoors and outdoors. Junipers should be watered whenever they begin to feel dry.

Step 1

Place your tree on a Lazy Susan, if you have one. A Lazy Susan will allow you to look at your tree from all angles and make sure that your trimming results in an evenly balanced tree. If you do not have a Lazy Susan, simply rotate the tree by hand.

Step 2

Begin trimming your tree at the bottom. Trim your Japanese juniper from the bottom up and from the inside out.

Step 3

Trim using bonsai pruners or sharp, stout scissors. Clip larger branches just above the branch collar. The branch collar is the portion of the trunk from which the branch grows. Although there are several types of bonsai pruners, they are generally small-bladed scissor-like pruners with larger handles.

Step 4

Remove larger branches first. Leave the smaller branches and growths for last. This will help you balance the overall look of your tree.

Step 5

Trim smaller branches with smaller bonsai pruners or scissors. To remove tender, new growth, either use fingernail clippers or just pinch off the new growth.

Step 6

Wire your tree once it is trimmed. Wiring is an important part of trimming and caring for your tree. Wire the tree by wrapping it at a 45 degree angle to the direction of the branch. Use only copper or aluminum bonsai wire. If your wire is not holding a branch in the desired position, wrap another wire or two next to the first wire.

Step 7

Bend your branch into position. Listen carefully for sounds of breaking or cracking. If you hear a crack or a pop, stop moving the branch and allow it to grow in the partially bent position. After it has healed, continue moving the branch.

Things You'll Need

  • Juniper bonsai
  • Lazy Susan (optional)
  • Bonsai pruners or scissors
  • Bonsai wire


  • Sleepy Hollow Bonsai: Growing Your Juniper Bonsai
Keywords: juniper bonsai care, juniper bonsai trimming, juniper bonsai shaping

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.