page contents The Little Bonsai: July 2017

Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

Growing and Caring for Bonsai Trees

The Juniper Bonsai

Juniper Bonsai

The Juniper Bonsai also known as Juniperus is one of the most popular Bonsai trees. Junipers can be found in all shape and sizes around throughout the world of Bonsai. Juniper Bonsai trees sold at large stores, including Walmart and Home Depot, are often Japanese Garden Junipers, also called Green Mound Junipers (Juniperus procumbens nana). Other popular species are the Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis), the Japanese Shimpaku (Juniperus sargentii), the Japanese needle juniper (Juniperus rigida), two central European species: the savin (Juniperus sabina) and the common juniper (Juniperus communis), and three American species: the California Juniper (Juniperus californica), the Rocky mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) and the Sierra Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis). The foliage colors range from dark blue-greens to light greens and the foliage can either be scale-like or needle-like. Scale junipers usually have needle-like foliage when they are young (called juvenile foliage), the typical scale-like foliage appears later. After heavy pruning or bending, overwatering or other stress often juvenile foliage will grow again. It can last a few years until enough normal scale-like foliage has grown and all the needle-like foliage can be removed.

Bonsai Tree Soil Potting
Bonsai Tree Soil Potting Mix Blend
The berry-like cones are round or oval, depending on the species they measure between 3 mm and 2 cm and they need a year or two to ripen. The seeds are round or edged. The cones are often eaten by birds who spread the germinable seeds later with their droppings.

Junipers are very suitable for creating deadwood (jin and shari). This is due to the fact that live veins below a broken or for other reasons dying branch will dry out and die. This results in natural deadwood which is peeled, polished and bleached by climatic conditions and is very durable in case of the juniper. The triad of green foliage, reddish-brown or yellowish-brown bark and silvery white deadwood is very appealing.

Position: Place the tree outside, year-round, on a bright spot with lots of sunlight. The Juniper cannot live indoors. During the winter protect the tree once temperatures drop below -10 degrees C (14F). Some species change their foliage color during frosty periods to a purplish brown which is connected with their frost protection mechanism. In spring they will turn green again.

Watering: Be careful not to water too much, as the juniper roots don't like soil wetness. Before you water, the soil should dry well. Misting the tree can be done regularly, especially after the tree has been repotted because it benefits from air humidity. Continue reading about watering Bonsai trees.

Feeding: Use normal organic fertilizer pellets or balls every month during the growth season or a liquid fertilizer each week. If strong growth is desired some higher nitrogen levels can be applied in spring.

Pruning: To develop the foliage pads, long shoots which stick out of the silhouette can be pinched or cut at the base with sharp scissors throughout the growth season. Do not trim the juniper like a hedge because the removal of all growing tips will weaken the tree and the cut will turn the needles brown. When the foliage pads become too dense they must be thinned out with sharp scissors at the base. The Juniper Bonsai is generally a strong tree that also withstands aggressive pruning quite well. But it cannot bud again from bare tree parts, so take care that there is some foliage left on every branch you want to keep alive. Continue reading about pruning Bonsai trees.

: Junipers which are produced for Bonsai purposes are already wired quite heavily in most cases when they are still very young. Dramatically twisted shapes are very popular and correspond with the natural shapes that used to grow in the Japanese mountains in former times. Junipers can be strongly bent, if necessary wrapped with raffia or tape as a protection, but you must be careful with parts which possess deadwood. Those parts break easily. If they are large and old, you can split the deadwood off in order to bend the more flexible living parts. The foliage pads should be wired and fanned out after thinning when necessary, to let light and air get in. Otherwise the inner parts of the foliage pads will die. In addition to this, the danger of pest infestation is increased if the pads are too dense. From the aesthetic point of view we also want to achieve unobstructed structures and want to prevent the juniper from looking like broccoli.

: Once every two years, very old trees at longer intervals, using a basic (or somewhat more draining) soil mixture. Don't prune the roots too aggressively. I'd suggest the Bonsai potting soil mixture, click here for customer review details on Amazon.

Propagation: Use seeds or cuttings.

Acquisition of juniper Bonsai: Many well-suited juniper species in different sizes are offered in most nurseries. You can often find good Bonsai raw material there. In gardens, concrete pots and on cemeteries on old graves that will be cleared there are often quite old junipers and if you are lucky the owner will allow you to dig one out for little money or a new plant. Specialized Bonsai traders offer everything from young plants, pre-Bonsai and pre-styled juniper trees up to high-value Bonsai, in various styles and shapes.

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Kiyonal bonsai healing cream, click here for more details
Pests / diseases: If junipers are well cared for and placed in an ideal position they are quite resistantwebworms for example. Customary insecticide / miticide sprays will help but you should also find the reason why the tree was prone to infestation. A big problem are fungal rust diseases. The diverse juniper species and cultivars have a very different level susceptibility to rust fungus, there are also some which are regarded as resistant. As a rule of thumb, the blue-green junipers are more resistant than those with yellowish-green foliage. The Japanese junipers are also not infested very often. In the internet you can find files which list many juniper species and cultivars and their susceptibility / resistance level to rust fungus. The rust fungus infests the junipers permanently and causes swellings from which hard, brown galls emerge. In spring, during rainy weather, the galls produce large, orange, gelatin-like tendrils, full of spores, which infest the leaves of pear trees (but there are also types of rust fungus which use hawthorn or crabapples as a second host instead of the pear). The fungus causes orange spots on the pear leaves. In late summer brownish proliferation's grow from the bottom-sides of the leaves which release spores that infest junipers again. While the pear trees in most cases are not fatally affected – they are newly infested each year again and they can even be treated successfully with a fungicide, an infested juniper normally cannot be cured. (You may want to refer to my previous blogpost on Cure and Prevention for Bonsai Tree diseases) The visibly infested branches die in most cases and the fungus can emerge on other tree parts. Removing the parts with the swellings and galls is no guarantee at all that the fungus will not reappear. Although some people have a different opinion, it is best to immediately burn up a rust-infested juniper or put it into the garbage instead of your compost heap. It is important though not to let the foliage pads get too dense, because otherwise pests can settle in them more easily. During winter the junipers must be kept in a place with enough light and they must be checked for pests regularly because pests can even occur in winter. Junipers can sometimes get infested with spider mites, juniper scale, juniper aphids and juniper needle miners as well as juniper.

More Bonsai articles can be found here:

Please click here for more information on --> Chinese Penjing Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Origins of Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Art of Saikei Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Japanese Tanuki Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> How to Water a Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Bonsai Healing Methods

Thank you for visiting my blog and feel free to subscribe or leave your message at the comment section below. Please always remember, good feedback's or bad remarks, it doesn't matter!

The Origins of Bonsai

Ancient Japanese painting

What do you do when you live in a country with limited space but want to exercise your green fingers or express your love, and even your spiritual reverence, for nature? Well, you can always do things in miniature - ikebana and bonsai are your two main options. Though the word 'ikebana' literally means 'living flowers', it is actually the visual presentation of cut stems, flowers and other features to represent an aspect of nature in miniature. Bonsai, on the other hand, means 'pot plant' and the art form involves raising living trees, often over a period of several years. While they are small, bonsai are not actually different from the trees we see around us, they are not miniature species. Rather they are small branches of a tree, carefully chosen, pruned and cultivated so that they look like smaller versions of their own species. They are also displayed in a way that shows off their best features, usually in a simple, shallow pot. Bonsai is about the combination of the plant and the pot. There are many different styles of bonsai such as: broom style - a tapered trunk topped by a symmetrical area ofSaikei is similar to and often confused with bonsai, but is actually closer to ikebana. Different species of small trees as well as other plants, rocks and sand are used to create miniature landscapes.
Japanese Bonsai Painting
Classical Japanese Bonsai Paintings

Foliage; cascading style - the pot is kept on a platform and the branches 'cascade' down below it; windswept style - resembles a tree that has grown up in an area exposed to strong winds.

Gardening in many forms has been enjoying something of a boom in Japan in recent years and those with limited space have been rediscovering the charms and challenges of this part of their native culture. As I said, bonsai are real trees in miniature and are not usually suitable as houseplants (some species have been developed for indoors). Usually they are hardy and can handle most weather. In fact, their growth may be adversely affected by artificial (ie. indoor) light and heat conditions, depending on your climate and the origin of the tree species. 

Even a small city apartment balcony can be big enough to build up a collection, something of an oasis for many urban dwellers. The smallest of bonsai, called mame (bean) can be just a couple of inches tall and a collection may also have trees a couple of feet high. The most popular are about 6 inches to a foot.

For the more serious gardener, it is possible to grow bonsai from seeds, cuttings, a branch while it is still on a living tree or even prune and adapt a tree from a garden center. But these are long and laborious processes, taking several years before you have any kind of 'finished product'. Indeed some of the most prized bonsai have been around a lot longer than their owners. Some enthusiasts go to great expense to buy bonsai from dealers but if you just want to dabble or test the waters, it is possible to start off with a good guide book and a domestic plant (cheaper than imports) from a hobby or gardening shop for just a few thousand yen. I watched a program on TV last night where bonsai amateurs had to guess the values of various high-quality specimens. The most expensive looked similar to the one in the photo above and was valued at over 5.5 million yen (almost 50,000 dollars!). Special qualities that made that particular specimen so valuable included the unusual (for the species) thickness of its trunk and branches and its old age.

In a nutshell - how the art of Bonsai started

Bonsai in autumn
The history of bonsai (pronounced bon-sigh) is cloaked in the mist of the past but it is now widely accepted that it was the Chinese who first created the miniature landscapes and trees that we now know as bonsai.

In Japanese, bonsai can be literally translated as "tray planting", but since originating in Asia so many centuries ago - it has developed into a whole new form. Called penjing by the Chinese, bonsai was believed to have had its start in the Han Dynasty. In this essay I will discuss some of the legends and facts surrounding the beginning of bonsai. One of the earliest Chinese legends contends that it was in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.) that an emperor created a landscape in his courtyard complete with hills, valleys, rivers, lakes and trees that represented his entire empire. He created the landscape so that he could gaze upon his entire empire from his palace window. This landscape form of art was also his alone to posess. It was said that anyone else found in possession of even a miniature landscape was seen as a threat to his empire and put to death. 

Another Chinese legend relating to the beginnings of bonsai points to a fourth century A.D. Chinese poet and civil servant named Guen-ming. It's believed that after his retirement he began growing chrysanthemums in pots. Some historians believe this was a step towards the beginning of bonsai in the Tang dynasty some 200 years later. The earliest documented proof of bonsai was discovered in 1972 in the tomb of Prince Zhang Huai, of the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 A.D.) who died in 706 A.D. Two wall paintings discovered in the tomb show servants carrying plants resembling bonsai. In one of the paintings a servant is seen carrying a miniature landscape and in the other painting a servant is shown carrying a pot containing a tree. 

Bonsai comes to Japan 

Even though it's the Japanese who get most of the credit for bonsai, it wasn't until the Heian period (794 - 1191A.D.) that Buddhist monks brought bonsai to the island. For many years following the arrival of bonsai, the art was practiced by only the wealthy and thus came to be known as a nobleman privilege. The fact that the art of bonsai was limited to the noble class almost caused the art to die out in Japan. It was with the Chinese invasion of Japan in the fourteenth century that the art of bonsai started to be practiced by people of all classes. Once the art was practiced by all classes, bonsai began to grow in popularity in Japan. The Chinese influence on the early bonsai masters is apparent since the Japanese still use the same characters to represent bonsai as the Chinese. After the establishment of bonsai in Japan, the Japanese went to great lengths to refine the art and a lot of credit must go to these early bonsai masters. The refinements that they developed has made bonsai what it is today.

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Bonsai Comes West 

The earliest bonsai to come to the west came mostly from Japan and China. The showing of bonsai at the Third Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1878 and later exhibitions in 1889 and 1900 increased western interest in bonsai and opened the door for the first major bonsai exhibit held in London in
1909. In these early years many westerners felt that the trees looked tortured and many openly voiced their displeasure in the way the trees were being treated by bonsai masters. It wasn't until 1935 that opinions changed and bonsai was finally classified as an art in the west. With the end of World War II, bonsai started to gain in popularity in the west. It was the soldiers returning from Japan with bonsai in towns that sparked western interest in the art, even though most of the trees brought home by these soldiers died a short time after their arrival. They survived long enough to create a desire in westerners to learn more about the proper care of their bonsai. 

The large Japanese-American population was invaluable to Americans in this respect. Their knowledge of the art of bonsai was of great interest ot many Americans learning the art. Today, bonsai are sold in department stores, garden centers, nurseries, and many other places. However, most of these are young cuttings or starts and not the true bonsai produced by bonsai masters. Most trees purchased today are known as pre-bonsai and are for the most part only used as a starting point. To create a true bonsai work of art you need to learn as much as possible about the art and the trees you use. Information is your key to success and it is important to read as much as possible. It is also a good idea to join a local bonsai club so you are able to discuss the subject with experienced bonsai enthusiasts. As your knowledge and confidence grow, creating your own bonsai works of art will become easier and your enjoyment of bonsai will grow.

Sun Protection Caps for Gardening Activities

Some like it short, some like it long! Different strokes for different folks but as a matter of fact, buying the right summer hat isn't easy simply because material plays a crucial role. Quality has to be on top of quantity, and this rule of thumb applies for caps too. You would not want to walk around with a PVC cap around, especially under a viscous and heating sun in the middle of summer. A great way to pick your perfect headwear is to learn a little bit about the materials that hat-makers use to build their products. Summer hats are ideal for backyard gardening and can be useful when watering bonsai trees.

This information is very important because it can give you an excellent idea of the insulating ability, breathability, and durability of the hat. Of course, these details also affect the price, so you’ll be aware of what you’re getting for your money.

summer caps
Breathable mesh summer beret
Materials for Warmer Weather
It's hot as hell in here and no beret !






Something easy to wear in spring

Details to look for in Spring/Summer Hats

UPF Sun Protection

Wide Brim

Ventilation and Ventilation Holes

Sweat-Wicking Inner Bands

Water-Resistant (Rain and Light Showers)

You can freely click on images to get more information. 

safari neck cap

wide brim summer hat

Fishing cap sun protection

gardening protection hat

Gemini Ribbon Sun Hat

Lanzom Straw Hat

Cause and Prevention of Bonsai Tree and Plant Diseases

Bonsai tree diseases can be very dangerous, and even fatal, to your plants. By recognizing the signs and treating the problem quickly, you will increase the chance of recovery and help prevent the spread of infection. Some trees are more susceptible than others to particular diseases or fungi, so it is important that you research your species and understand which illness are most common for your type of plant. Although an early sign of disease may be a late sign to react, however it's still on time to take necessary measures to save the tree from dying off completely. Diseases may manifest during change of season from fall to winter or from spring to summer. Transitions are the greatest enemy to detect diseases timely. From Chlorosis to root rot, there are hundreds of different diseases, however this article tells you about the most common diseases found in plants. It would madness to cover all diseases at once in a single article and a one pager would certainly not be sufficient. The PH soil scale may play a role in plant health too as it may not always be bacterial, please check my blog post information on different soil for different crop.

Advion Cockroach
Cause and Prevention of Bonsai Tree Diseases

Once you know what causes the various bonsai tree diseases and illnesses, it will be much easier to know how to keep your plant healthy. When it comes to protecting your bonsai, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Improper care can cause your tree to become sick or stressed and make it more susceptible to illness and disease.

A strong, healthy plant is much less likely to contract viruses or develop fungi and moulds, so the best prevention is to give your tree everything it needs to stay in good health and protect itself from bacteria and disease.

You can prevent bonsai tree diseases by:
  • keeping your tree clean and free of dust and debris
  • keeping soil free of fallen blooms, fruit, or leaves
  • providing sufficient lighting, fresh air, and ventilation
  • making sure that soil is properly aerated, not too compacted, and replenished when needed
  • repotting to prevent your plant from becoming pot bound
  • applying fertilizer correctly
  • using proper pruning techniques and applying wound paste to encourage healing

Japan Rail Pass

Signs of Bonsai Tree Diseases

There are several bonsai tree diseases, viruses, moulds, and fungi that can affect your bonsai, and recognizing a few common signs will let you know when your plant may be in trouble. Most diseased trees will show at least one of the following symptoms:
  • distorted or discolored leaves and flowers
  • loss of leaves out of season
  • yellowed, wilted, dried, or falling leaves
  • slow growth
  • wilted or drooping branches
  • dieback – the gradual dying of shoots and leaves beginning at the tips

Treatment of Bonsai Tree Diseases

Once you discover the presence of disease, the first priority is to make sure that you prevent it from spreading to the rest of the tree or to other plants in your collection. It is important to examine your bonsai regularly for signs of illness or infection. This will allow you to catch any problems early, and take all the steps necessary for a quick recovery. If left unattended, some bonsai diseases can cause severe damage, or even death.

If your plant becomes infected, you should:

1. Immediately remove your tree to a secluded location away from other plants to prevent cross-contamination or the spread of disease and infection.

2. Remove all affected leaves or infected growth.

3. Spray healthy foliage with a recommended fungicide.

4. Check for possible causes of disease such as root rot, poor ventilation, or over-moist soil.

5. Sterilize all tools used in pruning the affected tree.

6. Place the treated tree in a well ventilated area with proper lighting to prevent reinfection.

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Common Bonsai Tree Diseases

Black Spot: This fungus mostly attacks foliage and will appear as black spots or patches on the leaves. Eventually, the leaves will yellow, shrivel, and drop off. Once a leaf is infected, it must be removed from the tree to prevent spreading. Spray healthy foliage with a fungicide. Since water will encourage spores to travel to other parts of the plant, it is important that you do not water your tree until after all the affected areas have been removed

Leaf Spot: Similar to Black Spot, this fungus is characterized by white, black, brown, or grey spots (depending on the species), on leaves or small twigs and branches. Typically, blemishes will be white at first and then change to a darker color as the disease progresses. Eventually, lesions will develop, and foliage will wither and die. Any affected leaves, fruit, or branches must be removed immediately, the soil cleaned of any debris, and healthy foliage sprayed with a fungicide.

Multi purpose sprayer
Efficient multi purpose handheld sprayer
Mould or Mildew: Mildew is a fungi that thrives in damp environments with insufficient sunlight and poor ventilation. A White (Powdery Mildew) or Black (Sooty mould) substance appears on the foliage, stems, or branches and can cause distorted growth, discoloration, and loss of vigor or dieback. It is impossible to completely eliminate the mildew from infected leaves, therefore the affected foliage and shoots must be removed as soon as possible. Spray the tree with a fungicide to prevent reinfection. Sometimes, Black Sooty Mould can be caused by an infestation of aphids or scale insects. Removing the pests by hand and/or spraying your bonsai with a mild insecticide will help eliminate the insects, but infected foliage will still need to be removed and a fungicide applied. Make sure to place your tree in an area with sufficient sunlight and ventilation.

Rust: This is a fungal disease that appears as yellow, orange, red, or brown raised bumps or blisters on the undersides of leaves. Eventually, the leaves will curl up and fall off. Although Rust infections are not usually fatal, they can cause severe damage to your tree. It is important to remove the affected area and treat the healthy foliage with a fungicide. Remember to place the plant in a well ventilated area to prevent reinfection.

Chlorosis: This is a condition caused by a lack of chlorophyll and results from a damaged or compacted root system as well as nutrient deficiencies such as a lack of iron. Leaves will turn yellow but the veins will remain green and the plant will begin to wilt. Adding chelated iron to the water and taking proper care of your tree's roots will help treat chlorosis.

Root Rot: Improper drainage can cause roots to turn brown and mushy. Leaves will also become
Leslie Buck - cutting back
Excellent book by Leslie Buck
discolored, branches may weaken and break off, and growth will be stunted. Affected roots must be pruned away and the bonsai transplanted into fresh soil. Make sure that your choice of container and medium allows for sufficient drainage so that roots are not over watered.

Scab or Canker Diseases: These diseases can appear as a fading of leaf color, poor growth, or a swelling of the bark. Many canker infections develop after pruning, and treatment requires cutting out the infected areas and then applying wound paste. Other scab and canker infections may be caused by too much nitrogen or improper fertilizing. By following recommended fertilizing and pruning procedures you can prevent the occurrence of these diseases.

Red spider disease: The red spider is a common pest in both indoor and outside gardens. Bamboo bonsai plants are susceptible to this mite, as it eats the foliage. In addition to the red coloring, other species of red spider mites are yellow, orange or even green. They mature in only three weeks and start spinning webs on the bonsai trees. Many are resistant to pesticides, so some gardeners introduce predatory mites, including Phytoseiulus per-similus, to eradicate the problem. Gardeners might introduce one or two predatory mites per bonsai tree.

While prevention is the best way to stop the spread of disease and infection, there are times when even the healthiest plants fall victim. Recognizing the signs and beginning treatment immediately will help give your plant the best possible chance of recovering while also protecting the other trees in your collection. The bottom line is that prevention is better than healing. Prevention also costs less and the loss of a Bonsai can be avoided. I have written an article on Bonsai healing methods which goes one step further in Bonsai healing. If you wish to obtain more often updates on Bonsai world you can feel free and subscribe to news letters. (see right column at the bottom) In addition, your experience and comment or suggestion below is highly appreciated. Thank you!

More Bonsai articles can be found here:

Please click here for more information on --> Chinese Penjing Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Origins of Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> The Art of Saikei Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Japanese Tanuki Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> How to Water a Bonsai
Please click here for more information on --> Bonsai Healing Methods

Thank you for visiting my blog and feel free to subscribe or leave your message at the comment section below. Please always remember, good feedback's or bad remarks, it doesn't matter!