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How to Prune a Juniper Bonsai Tree

The juniper bonsai is a hardy, low-growing tree with more than 50 species. It is a tolerant tree that prefers full sun and a moist to dry soil environment. The juniper’s tolerance and adaptability provide the tree with great resilience to pruning. Though certain care should be taken with pruning the juniper bonsai, the tree will seldom provide negative responses to pruning and activities.

Prune the juniper continuously during its growing season, from early spring through late fall. Pinch away foliage to promote dense, compact growth. Avoid pinching away excessive foliage to avoid dieback and growth stunt.

Thin the foliage clusters to remove older foliage. Pinch out the foliage using a snapping motion rather than a “pull-away” motion. Gently remove new growth to promote the vigorous growth of mature foliage. Pinch away foliage once or twice a week to establish a good balance of semi-mature foliage.

Trim branches to promote the intended shape of the juniper bonsai. Use sharp, sterile pruning shears to trim branches and stems. Complete each cut with a sharp, angular cut to promote rapid healing. Never rip or tear branches and stems.

Repot the juniper bonsai approximately every two years or as needed. Prune the root system of the juniper tree during the repotting process. Remove the bonsai from the planting area or potting container. Remove the excess soil from around the roots of the juniper. Gently comb out the root system.

Trim the roots of the juniper bonsai using sterile, sharp scissors. Cut away no more than one-third of the root system. Remove larger roots over smaller, fibrous ones to promote a very miniature size. Always remove damaged, dying or dead roots from the system, cutting back at least one-third of the way past the damaged area.

Prune only healthy juniper trees. Avoid cosmetic pruning of the juniper bonsai trees when they have recently become infested, infected or are recovering from a long period of drought. Remove any dead, dying or wilted foliage, branches or stems as they appear. Never prune a dry plant. Treat any adverse health issue immediately and resume cosmetic pruning when the bonsai returns to good health.

Complete any extensive cosmetic pruning during the juniper’s dormancy period. Shape the tree’s branches and trunk using sharp pruning shears. Carve and shape deadwood to develop eccentric displays. Treat the deadwood areas with lime sulphur to create white areas and imprints in the wood.

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