Juniper bonsai trees can be a beautiful addition to your home and garden and come in many shapes, colours and sizes. As a durable plant that can happily live outdoors even in winter, it’s an attractive option for starter and experienced gardeners alike. However, it can be difficult to determine how much water a juniper bonsai needs.
Giving your juniper bonsai too much or too little water can have negative consequences and will even lead to the death of your plant if you’re not careful. Keep reading to get a better understanding of the watering requirements of a juniper bonsai tree.
How Often Should You Water Your Juniper Bonsai Tree?
Juniper bonsai trees are much more forgiving than other types of bonsai because they can survive in drier soil and are a little more forgiving when it comes to watering. The general guideline is that a juniper bonsai tree should be watered once every two or three days. However, you should check the moisture levels of the soil daily.
If you’ve had your plant for a considerable length of time you may be able to work out when it gets dry and establish a watering schedule. However, in the beginning, it is vital that you closely monitor your juniper bonsai tree’s needs.
Factors That May Affect When You Should Water Your Juniper Bonsai Tree
Experienced gardeners will know that plant care is not a “one size fits all” craft, and bonsai trees are no exception. The conditions in which your juniper bonsai lives can have a significant impact on how much water it needs.
Whether your plant is placed indoors or outdoors will determine how long it can live without being watered. For example, a juniper bonsai tree that lives indoors can have drier soil for a slightly longer period than its outdoor equivalent.
High humidity is an essential factor in ensuring that your juniper bonsai thrives, and it’s advantageous if you live somewhere with a naturally humid climate. The humidity will keep the leaves moist, which may mean longer stretches between waterings.
Bonsai soil must strike a good balance between retaining moisture and having adequate drainage. The best soil will have a high percentage of arrogates to allow water to flow quickly, and an ideal homemade mixture is one part loam, two parts sphagnum moss and two parts granite grit. If your juniper bonsai’s soil is of high quality it will be easier to establish a watering schedule.
How to Know When Your Juniper Bonsai Tree Needs Watering
Some bonsai owners monitor their plant’s moisture levels through weighing, ie. They will weigh their juniper bonsai tree immediately after it’s been watered, and once again when it needs to be watered. This makes a good future reference since, if you weigh your plant at some point, you can compare its weight to determine if it needs to be watered again.
As your plant’s soil dries out, it will turn lighter in colour. Here are some general guidelines for when to water your juniper bonsai tree:
- If the soil is completely dry to the touch, it’s time to water
- If the soil feels very slightly damp you might need to water (but do so with caution)
- If the soil is damp/wet, you don’t need to water it yet
There are a few different ways in which you can determine the soil’s moisture level.
With Your Hands
This is the simplest method; daily you can either lay your palm on the soil or stick your finger around half an inch deep. The palm is often a better option since it’s more sensitive than your fingers. If you do not feel any moisture in the soil it’s time to water your plant.
Using a Rock
Some hail this as a more accurate method because it allows you to determine the moisture level beneath the soil’s surface. Simply press a rock lightly into the soil and, after lifting it out, you’ll be able to see whether the soil underneath is dry.
The Chopstick Method
If you’re using this technique you should take an ordinary wooden chopstick and place it 1-2 inches into the soil, leaving it for around ten minutes. The rest is self-explanatory; if the stick comes out dry you should water your plant.
How to Water Your Juniper Bonsai Tree
Whichever method you use for watering your juniper bonsai, the most important thing is that the soil should be completely moist when finished (wet to the touch and dark in colour). You should provide your plant with enough water that the excess runs from the drainage holes, as this means the water has definitely reached the roots.
With a Watering Can
If you water your juniper bonsai with a watering can, you should use a fine nozzle to prevent excessive disturbance to the soil.
Water the plant until the excess runs from the drainage holes, then wait a few minutes for the water to be absorbed by the soil. It’s best to repeat this process two to three times; this will mean that the juniper bonsai has absorbed as much water as it needs and still has some leftover.
Placing it in Water
Alternatively, you may wish to submerge the juniper bonsai in water and let the soil absorb moisture that way. Using a large tub or even a sink, submerge the plant up to its trunk and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Then remove the juniper bonsai and drain any excess water.
The technique known as “misting” should not be used in place of real watering, but it’s a good way to keep your plant hydrated in between. If you live in a low-humidity climate, simply fill a spray bottle with water and lightly spray it over the foliage. This helps to keep the humidity level around your juniper bonsai high and maintain good growth.
Misting is particularly important if you have recently repotted your juniper bonsai tree. This is because the roots may need some time to settle into their new home and might not be able to absorb the water immediately. Misting the leaves helps to keep them hydrated until your plant has adapted.
What To Do if Your Juniper Bonsai Is Under or Over Watered
As with any plant, giving your juniper bonsai the correct amount of water is vital. If it is overwatered or not watered often enough, it can quickly deteriorate and die.
If your plant is only slightly overwatered, the leaves may appear soft with darkened tips. However, this can progress to extreme softness with the foliage turning a yellow-brown colour. Overwatering usually occurs if a juniper bonsai tree is not in a pot with adequate drainage, which will cause root rot and eventual death of the plant.
If the plant is in the early stages and showing mild symptoms, you may still be able to save it. You should refrain from watering it any further, but perhaps also consider repotting it into a pot with better drainage.
Juniper bonsais are at risk of dying after just a few days without water. Before this, though, you can spot an under-watered plant by the dry crispy leaves, which will eventually fall off the tree.
Luckily, if your plant is still alive it’s fairly easy to fix its under-watered state. Simply place it in a tub filled with water as you would with normal watering. However, you should keep a close eye on the plant for the next few days to make sure it’s recovering.
Overall, watering your juniper bonsai tree correctly is one of the most vital parts of maintaining the plant’s health. If you follow the steps listed here, you’ll be guaranteed a beautiful, blossoming lifelong companion. Here is an article How Cold Can a Juniper Bonsai Get that might be interesting for you.