How To Train a Juniper Bonsai Tree

There is nothing quite like adding a little bit of color and nature to your home or garden with a juniper bonsai tree.

The majestic tree is known for its stylish and unique growing pattern, but you will need to learn how to train it properly to get the best look. So, before you start growing your bonsai tree, how exactly do you train it? 

The best way to train your juniper bonsai tree is to prune it regularly. Pruning the tree regularly will give you more creative control over the bonsai tree’s look.

When it comes to pruning, you can either do maintenance pruning or structural pruning, but it depends on your end goal. Aside from pruning, the article will discuss other techniques as well.

Training your juniper bonsai tree does not require a lot of time and effort if you stick to the pruning strategy.

Whether you are training your bonsai tree as a hobby or for decorative reasons, this article will have you covered on everything you need to know about the best ways to train your bonsai tree going forward.

Let us get started.

Juniper Bonsai Tree Training Techniques 

Juniper Bonsai Tree

There are several strategies available to help you train your bonsai tree, but the best method for you is subjective.

The most commonly used method is the pruning method, but there are more intricate ways to train your bonsai tree as well. Before getting into more details on the process, here is a look at the most effective training strategies.

  • Maintenance Pruning
  • Structural Pruning
  • Wiring 
  • Bonsai Defoliation 

The beauty of a juniper bonsai tree is that it can take on many looks, shapes, and sizes. Theoretically, you can have a small garden of juniper bonsai trees in which no two plants look the same.

You can always use multiple strategies on one plant to get unique results, but you will want to make sure you are not over-stressing your plant. 

Now that the main training strategies have been established, it is time to put them into practice. In the next section of the article, you will get a step-by-step look at how to properly execute each of the training strategies listed above. The first training strategy on the list is maintenance pruning. 

Maintenance Pruning 

training bonsai

Pruning is the act of removing unwanted branches off of a tree to encourage new and healthy growth while improving the tree’s structure

. With maintenance pruning, your goal should be to keep and retain the current existing shape of the juniper bonsai tree. This technique will train your plant to stay in its most natural form. 

Bonsai trees do most of their growth on the top and outer parts of the stems so it is important to key in on these areas during maintenance.

The amount of time you should spend maintenance pruning depends on whether your tree is an outdoor or indoor plant. Outdoor plants usually grow from March to September, while indoor grow year-round

Knowing when it is time to prune your tree is simple because you will start to notice when prune branches and shoots start to overshadow the intended look you desire for your plant.

Make sure to use proper bonsai tools such as shears and normal cutters for more optimal results going forward. 

Structural Pruning 

Oldest Bonsai Tree

The purpose of structural pruning is to customize the look of your bonsai tree for a truly unique look. If you are inexperienced, you should take a look at the work of more experienced pruners so that you can get a better idea of what direction kind of look you want for your tree. 

Once you start structurally pruning your tree, the action is irreversible and your tree will not be able to change its growth pattern.

Your best bet is to train your plant in the early days of spring, but each species of plant has a different timeline to follow. Once you have your desired look in mind, it is time to start the pruning process.

  • Remove dead branches off of the tree
  • Decide which branches you need to remove to achieve your preferred look
  • Use bonsai tools to carefully remove unwanted branches

The process is simple and not far off from a traditional landscaping procedure. Once you go through the process and style your plant to your desired look, you will not have to perform big maintenance on it until at least a year, making this one of the less strenuous bonsai training techniques to use. 

One thing to make note of is that your tree needs time to recover as it grows into its new form. If you notice any damages to your bonsai tree, make sure to nurture the wounds so that it can grow healthily and grow into the look you intended for it. 


wiring bonsai

The wiring process is a simple yet effective training strategy designed to help you get a stylistic and unique look on your tree.

The purpose of wiring is to bend the branches of your tree over a few months so that the branches bend in your desired manner. This process takes effort and patience, but the results are well worth it.

You can wire your branches at any point in the year, but keep in mind that branches tend to grow thicker during the usual growing season and your wiring may not be as effective because of it.

There are only two recommended types of wiring for this procedure: annealed copper and anodized aluminum. 

The anodized aluminum wire is recommended for beginners because it is the easiest wire to work with and it is available in most bonsai tree shops. After you acquire your wire, it is time to put it to use on your bonsai tree. Here are a few tips to help you optimize your wire training.

  • Work from the trunk of the tree to the primary branches
  • Double wire bigger branches for more bending support
  • Wire branches before bending them 
  • Make sure the wires are strong enough to hold your branches 

After the wiring process is done, make sure to perform proper maintenance on your tree while making sure the wiring is not too stressful on its branches.

You will start to notice an obvious bend in your branches anywhere between the first and fourth months of the process. Once your branches can maintain your desired bend, remove the wiring.

Bonsai Defoliation 

Bonsai defoliation is one of the more advanced training strategies to use on your juniper bonsai tree. Defoliation serves the same purpose that the fall season has on leaves because you are removing existing leaves to encourage the growth of new ones.

This should only be used on deciduous trees that can handle the strain of this strategy. 

The best time to start this process is at the start of summer, specifically in June because it will allow your plant enough time to grow its new leaves before the winter months that tend to slow the growth process down.

Make sure to use proper bonsai tools such as twig shear cutters and avoid cutting too deep into the branches and roots of the tree. 

What makes this technique ideal is that it does not require a lot of aftercare once you defoliate the leaves off of the branches.

Although this is a more advanced training strategy, it is not a strenuous one and is a useful technique for beginners who are afraid of damaging their plant by misusing a different technique. 

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