Styling The Juniper Procumbens – A Six Part Series of Before and After Styling for Beginners – Juniper #1

Here is juniper #1

Juniper 1

and as you can see it poses no potential for a bonsai at this point. These type of junipers are mound junipers and their natural tendency is to lay flat and mound up its foliage.

With some of these all you have to do is be a bit creative and stick your fingers inside the foliage and see what’s in there. Basically just move things around. As you can see in this next pic I found something pretty interesting that I think will work.

Juniper 1 - Pic2

So now the styling begins. The first thing is to remove some of the plastic nursery pot in order to see just exactly what I have to work with in the way of foliage removal

Styling Picture 1

One thing you’ll want to do is remove most foliage that growing down under the branches. By doing this you are allowing the branch to be highlighted and considered a tree and not a shrub.

Styling 2

Another thing will be to pinch off any really heavy buds for now during the initial styling.

Removing heavy buds

So now I’m ready to do some wiring. At this stage on this particular tree, all that is needed is some wiring on the trunk to shape it.

Beginning Wiring

Looking at the back side of the tree, cut or pinch off foliage to give the back a nice downward taper. When cutting off foliage on a juniper, always cut as far inside as possible. You should never cut haphazardly as if you were trimming an outside hedge or bush. After your main styling, you will be mainly pinching to shape, and that too must be done the proper way. More on that later.

Pinching the shape

So now you can see the basic shape I’m after with this particular tree.

basic shape appears

Now I’m ready for a training pot.

training pot

All the pots you see with these 6 junipers will be over size plastic bonsai pots as I mentioned in the intro blog to these series of junipers. They will need to be oversize because I won’t be removing all the soil but probably 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil. At this particular time of the year I’m really past the repotting stage so as not to endanger the tree too much, I won’t disturb the roots very much. A cheap plastic bonsai pot that you see here will add to the interest of working with your new bonsai while still training it to maybe some day be a great tree in your collection.

Next is the soil I’ll be using,

Fujiyama Soil

basic Dallas Bonsai Garden soil will work for this type of tree. Soil and what type to use is a big issue on most bonsai forums, so if you read somewhere of a different type soil application for your new juniper tree, and are convinced through the trials and errors of others, then by all means try it. Just make sure that it is a free draining soil and that you sift out the really fine dust that will most likely turn to mud if you don’t.

Once you have your pot and soil ready, the next step will be to insert wire through the drainage holes to help tie down the tree in the pot since it will be quite unstable in its new home for a while at least anyway.

Juniper and training pot

And there you have it, your new juniper bonsai pretty much made from scratch really.

Potted juniper 1

Find a nice semi shady spot on your bonsai bench and keep an eye that the tree doesn’t dry up and within a couple of years you should have a nice juniper bonsai.

Bonsai in shade

One thing to make note of is the thick green branches will in time turn to a hard woody type branch, just be patient with this. After a couple of months it will be necessary to start the tree on a fertilizer program in order to give it the trace minerals it will need to keep it from yellowing out. I like to give mine an acid type fertilizer, the kind I would use on azaleas and they just love it.

Continue to Part 2 :-)

Thomas J.

About Thomas J.

I started doing bonsai in 1991 after buying my first Chine Elm from Dallas Bonsai, who at the time was selling trees and supplies at a local mall.

At the time I was mostly interested in deciduous trees but after a few years moved up to working on junipers. My last holdout was the Japanese Black Pine which I began to work with in 2007 after acquiring a specimen from a friend.

I've had a few of my trees published in the "Gold Awarded Penjing of the World". Some call bonsai an art and some call it a craft, but for me it's a little of both with some high anxiety thrown in, at others times a world of peace and beauty right outside my backdoor.

3 Comments

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  1. Anna

    I just discovered your blog. There’s so much great information that I’ve already got several good tips. After attending the Austin bonsai show I was inspired to seek out tips from more experienced bonsai enthusiasts and found your blog. Thanks for writing.

  2. Carl Cary

    I am 75 retired, needing something to keep my brain working. I live in zone 6, West Virginia. I have transplanted different trees, an shrubs this spring. really enjoyed your article. Should I Waite until next year to do anything. some tree an shrubs are 10 years or older. They R in nursery Pots. I realize I an a little late to start, but ave grand-son interested.

  3. Thomas J.

    It wouldn’t hurt to wait until next spring since we are moving into the hottest part of the year now and you just did some major root work it sounds like. At that time you could do just what I did, remove soil and more roots for repotting, but not too much, and restyle. The following year repot into a smaller more suitable pot.
    Thomas J.

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