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Juniper bonsai

The juniper bonsai: a centuries-old tradition

The juniper, by tradition, is considered the queen plant of bonsai, particularly in Japan where, from the Edo period (1600-1868), it has been one of the basic ornamental trees in the creation of gardens. Also in China the cultivation of juniper bonsai is particularly important as it is the tree par excellence in the temples dedicated to Confucius: it is in fact considered an elegant and refined plant, suitable to reflect the style of the Master. Juniperus Chinensis (botanical name) is the mother species of all ornamental varieties created for gardens. The characteristic that makes it particularly appreciated is its strong resistance to even difficult environmental conditions, without having to resort to particular care: it is in fact a conifer that finds its natural habitat in arid or wooded places, from the cliffs near the sea up to an altitude of 2500 meters. Another peculiarity is that in nature it assumes the most varied forms depending on the environment in which it grows and the amount of wind and snow it takes, this makes it rather easy to form the bonsai.

Juniper bonsai: precautions


We have said that juniper is a very resistant plant, this does not mean that too high or low temperatures can still damage it. Its weak point is the roots, which must be well protected in a carefully chosen pot. As a position, open air is to be preferred, so that the foliage is naturally humidified by the morning dew; alternatively indoors we must be careful to nebulize it. In both cases we must always be careful that it is in a bright and airy position. Depending on the seasons, it can be exposed to direct sunlight, such as in spring and autumn, or it can be placed in a shady area such as in summer, as the roots, unlike the leaves, cannot stand the heat. In winter it can be safely outside as long as the root system is protected from freezing. Watering requires some attention: it must be done only when the soil is completely dry, pouring water even two or three times to be sure it is completely absorbed. Otherwise you can put the plant in a saucer filled with gravel kept moist.

Pruning, stapling and binding


Good pruning is essential for the optimal growth of the juniper bonsai. The training pruning, which is used to give the plant the desired shape, is accompanied by maintenance pruning, which serves to eliminate diseased or too long branches. The most suitable period for practicing them is the winter one when the plant is in vegetative rest.The blades to perform it must be sharp so as not to fray the edges of the cut, on which, at the end of the operation, it is good to put a healing paste to remove the risk of infections and parasites, while the stapling can be done during the vegetative cycle of the plant. It is a technique that is performed by hand because the edges of the leaves (scales) cut with scissors turn brown after a few days, compromising the appearance of the bonsai.

Juniper bonsai: Aesthetics of bonsai


Bonsai is basically a small tree grown in a pot according to defined aesthetic rules. These suggest us to take into consideration the different factors that characterize our juniper bonsai: shape of the trunk and branches, roots, pot and choice of the front. The roots and the trunk must make the bonsai look like an “old tree”: the roughness of the bark and its conicity (larger base and gradually thinner) help to give it an imposing appearance. The branches should form a triangular crown and should start at about one third of the total height, while the front must be made up of the most visually beautiful part of the plant and roots. Finally, the vase, component to be chosen carefully, because influences the general aesthetics of the bonsai. Measurements, shape,

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