Juniper bonsai tree is one the most common image that comes to mind when we think about bonsai as East-Asian art as well as depicted as a symbol of the East-Asian culture in western movies. Some of the oldest bonsai tree in the world are Juniper Bonsai tree at Mansei-en, Japan. This tree was tested and proven to be over 1000 years old. Another famous example is well 800 years old Juniper tree at Shunka-en, in Japan.
Juniper Bonsai Tree Meaning and Symbolism
Juniper is often viewed as symbol of protection and is said to ward off evil spirits. It also represents the cleansing and purification of those nearby and even produces berry-like cones that are used in health and healing rituals. The herbal uses of juniper berry appear in the written records of early Greek and Arabian physicians. During the Bubonic Plague, cautious people kept a few berries in their mouths to produce an antiseptic aura and prevent infection. Forward thinking renaissance-era surgeons used juniper tea to disinfect their tools. Juniper berries were also known to the Native people of the American plains as both a food source and medicinal agent. Some believe Juniper works well to dispel negativity, while banishing notions of regret and guilt.
Juniper is also a symbol of power and strength, representing the ability to overcome life’s inevitable challenges.
Juniper Bonsai Species
There are about 50 to 70 different species of these evergreen coniferous trees or shrubs in the cypress family. Junipers can have two types of foliage, needle-like, and scale-like foliage. Scale junipers’ new growth, or juvenile foliage, appears needle-like until the typical scale-like foliage appears when they mature. Juvenile growth can also result from heavy pruning, bending, or overwatering. The foliage color can range from steely-blue-greens to light greens, occasionally with silver or gold hues.
Juniper loves to be outside especially during rainy, misty weather. It could be placed in a bright location with lots of sunlight as well, but not burning hot direct sun. It could tolerate temperatures above 15 °F (-10 °C). During winter, the junipers must be kept in a place with enough light. Some species change their foliage color during frosty periods to a purplish brown which is a part of their internal frost protection mechanism, and they will turn green again in spring.
It’s important not to overwater the tree, because the juniper’s roots don't like soil to be too wet. Misting the tree can be done regularly, especially after the tree has been repotted because it benefits from air humidity.
To develop the foliage pads, long shoots that stick out of the silhouette can be pinched or cut at the base with sharp scissors throughout the growing season. Juniper could not be trimmed like a hedge because the removal of all growing tips will weaken the tree and the cut will turn the needles brown. When pruning keep in mind that Juniper can’t bud again from bare tree parts, so make sure there is some foliage left on every branch you wish to keep alive.