Making Sense out of this Juniper

This Prostrate Juniper was in my yard and didn’t even realized it was a good bonsai material until about 3 years ago.  When I decided I will make a bonsai out of it,  I root pruned it early Fall 2016 and kept it in the ground. I then moved it into a plastic pot late Winter (or early 2016).  Fertilized heavily Spring and Summer.  Did some light pruning in the Summer just to understand the branches.

This is probably one of the more challenging materials I’ve worked with.  These junipers are built genetically to grow low to the ground as ground covers.  Don’t know the exact variety but at the nursery where I buy my plants, they sell them in 4″ or 1 gallon pots.   When we moved to our current house (15yrs ago), there were a bunch of Junipers in front of our yard that stretched to what seemed to be miles.   I pruned this while in the landscape to reduced it into a smaller shrub.  While in the pot, I did some light pruning during the summer and studied the branches a little.

This is the first major styling on this tree.  I went in with the this idea:  SIMPLIFY, REDUCE, COMPACT


Since, this material grew low to the ground and very little pruning was done since then, the branches were tangled, crossed, and weaved.  It was quite a task figuring out exactly which foliage belong to which branch and to which trunk (there were 3 main trunks).   I didn’t want to cut off a foliage that belong to a trunk I want to keep. Luckily, the branches were long and flexible so that I could untangled them.  I did it carefully as to not break the branches and break the foliage.


Once, I’ve untangled the branches, I grouped  them and temporarily bundled them with wires in order to follow the main ranches to the trunk.

I then removed branches that I don’t want or don’t need.  I removed branches that are dead, crossing that does not contribute to the health or look of the tree, and redundant branches (other than the ones I want to keep as insurance for future choice).


The long branches helped with untangling them but they are not good for making a bonsai look like small trees.  I then selectively pruned the long branches noting the future growth and hoping to tease the inner branches to grow more.   I wire the long branches and foreshortened them.  As the inner branches grow, I will go back to select the ones I want to keep.  Lots of wiring on this tree as the branches are thin and wants to fall down.


Stepping back once in a while to look at the tree.  Slowly the tree in this juniper started to appear.  I only cleaned the dead branches enough to show as a lighter wood but definitely will need more work.

Again,  if nature cooperates and I didn’t butcher this tree too much, this will eventually go in to a bonsai pot in about 2 years.   I’m really excited about this tree.  Lot of work but it’s worth it!

This is the juniper in the ground. I took the photo last year after it’s been root pruned.
Another angle after pruning some branches while still in the ground.


This is what the roots look like after digging it.
Another view




This is the tree early summer before I did some light pruning.




Here it is again. It’s very scary.



Here are all the branches I have to deal with.  This is again in the summer.  I believe it was July 4th when I took this photo.



Here’s the tree before I worked on it this last weekend.


You can see the foliage better at this angle.


The other side.



Back Side.


Last one.


Here’s the tree after  last weekend’s (9-17-16 and 9-18-16) work. 



Published by tony bonsaiko

My little trees are my daily reminders of our grand connection to this beautiful and mysterious universe.

2 thoughts on “Making Sense out of this Juniper

  1. Not sure how I found your blog, but I did. It was maybe thru your post on Michael Hagedorn’s puzzle on the pine recently. Anyway, saw your post and went exploring. This is great work on this juniper. Well done.

    1. Hi Kip, Thank you for checking out my blog. Yes, that juniper turn out good but got a lot of work and growing to do still. Can’t wait to get it in a bonsai pot.

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