Caring for a bonsai plant can be quite the task sometimes, especially if it involves a bonsai with very specific growing needs. Aside from the usual watering, temperature and positioning, there is another major factor to a successful bonsai tree, and that is pruning. While some bonsai trees may have root systems that appreciate hard pruning, there are also variants that need gentle and delicate pruning, either directly or at the root ball. The Juniper bonsai is classified as the former type, though some specific techniques must be applied as well.
Generally, the best time to prune a bonsai tree into the structure that you wish is either early spring or late autumn, which is just before or right after the tree’s growth season. Like other bonsai plants, you would need to remove branches or shoots that have outgrown the shape and size that you had in mind. In order to develop beautiful foliage pads of the Juniper bonsai, use sharp scissors to remove the long shoots that stick out of the silhouette. You can choose either to cut them at the base or pinch them. You would need to maintain this pruning throughout the growth season.
Healthy and proper pruning can stimulate the tree which helps distribute the growth evenly. Pruning also produce a denser foliage, which must be thinned out at the base according to needs. It is important to not trim the Juniper as you would a hedge, as cutting off the growing tips will significantly weaken the tree; turning the needles brown. Though the Juniper can withstand aggressive pruning, it cannot bud again on bare tree parts, so make sure to leave some foliage on the branches that you want to keep.
Many experts have been trying to clarify pruning issues with Junipers, and one of the misconceived ideas regarding this particular bonsai is pinching. You must make it a number one rule to never pinch a Juniper bonsai, especially if you do not know what you are doing. Though there have been various suggestions going around about pinching the tree, and how it seems like a fun way to ‘play’ with your bonsai, pinching has been recognized as one of the main killers of a Juniper bonsai.
Pinching can weaken the tree, as well as its whole growth in general. If you absolutely have to pinch your tree, make sure you understand the difference between needle and scale Junipers, and how they are maintained. Junipers are mainly slow-growers that do not need much restraint on their foliage. Just focus on removing long branches that outgrow the designated size, and you should be fine.