The Q&A Archives: dwarf japanese garden juniper (bonsai) care

Question: I just got one of your INVOICE

knobs and hooks

211 Commercial St.
Portland, ME 04101

50 rock knobs @ $7.00 $350.00

(21 medium, 29 small)

TOTAL DUE $350.00

I just got one of your dwarf japanese garden junipers (bonsai, about 3 feet tall). I know how to plant it but should I leave the metal stake it's attached to. Also any care suggestions would be helpful. Pruning etc.

Answer: Your question came to the Q&A for garden questions so I can't speak to the invoice.

However, the juniper should be planted in a full sun location with good air circulation and well drained soil. It does best in average soil. Keep the soil slightly damp like a wrung out sponge after planting to encourage it to become well rooted. Do not however water so much that the soil becomes saturated or sopping wet.

Juniperus procumbens is normally a ground hugging plant that can spread to about six feet across. If you are planting it outdoors I would remove the stake and allow it to follow its own way back toward the ground. This (planting in the ground and also untieing it) will however defeat the earlier bonsai training it received and allow it to become a normal plant.

If you wish to maintain it as a bonsai specimen you will need to keep it in the original container and continue to train it. This involves pruning as it grows to enhance the shape, repotting and root pruning as needed to keep it dwarfed, and meeting its general cultural needs. You will need to provide it the specialized daily care needed by bonsais to stay healthy -- keeping the soil slightly damp but not sopping wet, protection from wind, protection from baking hot sun.

And, in the winter you will need to provide it with a chilling period where it is stored cool and bright -- but not freezing. It needs this cool period to stay healthy. If you intend to keep it as a bonzai plant I would suggest you look at a book or two for more detailed instructions. Good luck wiht your juniper!

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