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TOPIC: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy

Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5338

Hello everyone !

Nice to be here. I am a new Bonsai Mommy. I got my Bonsai as a Mothers day gift. I had been reading on Bonsai for a long time and talking about it for some time and apparently my friends and family listened when I spoke. Because driving down the road, they saw an elderly Chinese man selling Juniper Bonsai trees. He said the tree was 2 years old. No humidity tray, just a small training pot, soil, and a rock. The tree appears to be fairly healthy to me, I will post a picture soon. My only concern is that he said it could be grown indoors, and I happen to know better. So I have to wonder, but at this time it looks quite decent.

Despite my knowledge for gardening (I have a pretty green thumb) and all of my reading over time on Bonsai... I am TERRIFIED. I am in love with the art, and in love with this plant and I could easily see myself becoming a hobbyist should I get the hang of it, but I am petrified. I couldn't even get up the courage to water it until today. I have been checking it, and making sure NOT to play with (I actually have not been tempted.)

I am so overwhelmed with all of the information and trying to shop for tools. I know I need the basic and some books. I have been to so many sites trying to get my shopping list together and who to buy from and what to buy... I literally am about to explode LOL. I do not want to wait too long of course, especially since there is no humidity tray. I live in Louisiana, so we are a pretty humid state. There are just so many sources online and trying to locate the right place is quite stressing.

I keep reading that everyone kills their first and even their first few... is this really true? I sure hate to go into this thinking I will likely kill my poor baby. I am still trying to look into buying fertilizer and am scared to death I'm going to choose the wrong ones. For all of my gardening here at home I use rabbit manure, and I am not wishing to use this on my Bonsai of course. So overwhelming.

I have not started on even thinking of design yet (it is really in a not so bad shape as is, no wire on it though) as I have been too focused on nurturing it and basic care. I figure once I get that thought out, I would get into that stuff. You know... walk before you run.

Thank you for listening to me ranting on and I hope to get to know many of you.

Shadow Rhelm
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Re: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5340

Congratulations on your first tree! Junipers are extremely easy to care for. There is no need to worry :) . Definitely keep it outside, and do not use a humidity tray. A humidity tray is only useful for indoor tropical tress. Being outdoors in Louisiana will be plenty humid enough. Make sure that the soil is fast draining. Junipers love fast draining soil. Watering junipers is also quite easy. In the summer months I water mine every 1 or 2 days. Just check the soil often. You want it to be moist, but not drowning (this is where fast draining soil comes into play). The tight and dense foliage on junipers make it a great home for insects and spider mites, so I like to water from the top, making sure that the foliage gets a good washing. Junipers are tough little trees and can withstand harsh weather and some neglect.

If the tree is only 2 years old i suggest planting it in a large pot or in the ground. This will allow the trunk to thicken up.

As far as fertilization goes, I prefer to use solid rapeseed cakes. They are small brown cakes (roughly 1 inch in diameter), and you just place a few around the pot (I bury mine slightly in the soil so they are less visible). Its important to purchase odorless cakes as some can invite insects to the party. The benefit of this type of fertilizer is that they are slow release and require no exact measurements. All you have to do is add new ones every month or 2. It provides the tree a slow and steady stream of nutrition without the worries of over fertilization.
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Re: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5341

Oh, 1 more thing...

"I have been checking it, and making sure NOT to play with (I actually have not been tempted.)"



(my own philosophy on bonsai)

Bonsai is a hobby, and hobbies are supposed to be fun! So dont be afraid to play with your tree. If you feel a creative urge, just go for it! I did some drastic restyling on my first tree (also a juniper) after i built up the nerve. The tree is still alive today, and at the time I knew very very little.
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Re: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5344

howdy s.r.

welcome to the site... my biggest concern would be the soil. sometimes ,not always, people will use the cheapest soil they can find even ground soil to make a few extra $. since you are a gardener you already know what good and bad soils look like.it sould be non compacted and as james stated free flowing( water should drain immediatly )this is just like any other plant that you would have so no reason to be over concerned give it full sun and water it whan its dry and it will grow.

seeing that it is young unless you are planning to get more( bonsai is like poptato chips,you cant have just one :P ) your need for tools souldnt be a concern at the moment. fertalizing i use a slow release 12/12/12 that looks like little yelow fish eggs and a water mix liquid fert 7/7/7 that i use every 3rd watering during spring and summer

best of luck and cant wait to see the baby ;)
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Re: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5348

Thank you for the warm welcome and great info.

I too have been mildly concerned about the soil and have been watching it closely and trying to make a decision. While I do not think it is the worst, it is not the best IMO. There are great holes in the bottom of the pot, and there is also screening covering each hole. The screen is surprisingly decent screen to also allow for good draining. It seems to drain fairly well, but I am considering switching it out. I am considering purchasing some Fujiyama potting soil and some Akadama and re-potting the baby. I keep telling myself to wait till I am more comfortable and it has adapted and settled down some since I do not wish to stress it out too much.

It appears to have a natural windswept design. It is very beautiful. It has a very small branch growing out through where the base of the trunk is (it is coming out of the soil) which at the time caught my eye as a possible future branch that I could train upward... and now the more Junipers I see, do not really have anything like this, so I have not decided if I should keep this as an option. However, the baby is truly breathtaking. I of course keep telling myself I need the best. I read some places I should get only real Japanese tools, and I read other places that the cheaper tools work just as well, then another site says the cheap ones do not last long and can cause damage. It truly is confusing.

We do not have much here for decent nurseries and from what I can find, even less for Bonsai. I could not even find decent soil for my lavender for quite some time. I have been looking at many fertilizers on line and have said "okay I am buying this" and then I second guess myself. My husband and my friend have both told me that my Bonsai will not be able to handle my shopping habits as it takes forever for me to make a decision and to purchase anything.

I have been doing a lot of looking at Dallas Bonsai. Does anyone have any experience shopping with them? I have been looking at their Bio-Gold and Fujiyama fertilizers and also trying to try to decide if I wish to go organic or chemical.

I have also been considering insecticidal soap as well. We are very prone to insects here and I battle them often in my gardens and even my potted plants on my neck (where I have my Bonsai.) I usually use Seven Dust or Seven Spray, I am scared to use this on my Bonsai as I do not know the effects it would have.
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Re: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5361

ok well it is not a good time to repot your juni if the soil is draining good than it will be fine for now, late winter,early spring is the optimal time.as for fertalizer do not stress too much i have used miracle grow on my trees with no problem, food is food to a tree if you really consider it, just dilute it more than you normally would.i go for the time release that looks like little balls .the organic stuff has a tendance to grow mold.
your tree is young and probubly not in a traditional bonsai soil which wouldnt have any organic material .the fancy ferts are for more advanced stages of bonsai in my opinion anyway.i have also been told that using many types of fert is avantagious because each type has diferent micronutrients. so go out pick up a packet of this a container of that and you'll be good just keep the doses balanced and low (7/7/7 ,10/10/10 ect...)
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Re: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5364

Thank you sweety. I did find a 10/10/10 (non organic) fertilizer in the form of tiny pellets at Lowes today I decided to buy. I also got some insecticidal soap since I just in case. We get some horrible bugs and fungus here sometimes. I have decided that wait for sure on any re-potting unless I begin to have draining issues, even then I may just try to adjust the watering... want to hold off till I can find the right medium and I am also comfortable. I have no idea why I am so nervous with this poor tree. Since I do not have tools, would a small corn cob holder or a metal skewer be okay to sort of loosen the soil a tad for the fertilizing and checking the soil? I do have those on hand that I use for my other plants (generally seedlings).

I am very thankful to have found this forum, very helpful :)
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Re: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5367

I am adding some pictures I took of my Juniper Bonsai. Maybe you guys could give me some feed back. I have just been worried since I got it almost a week ago. The soil is pretty wet in the pics because it had literally just been watered, but i am really not liking the soil anyways, but I am too nervous to repot it yet as well. Maybe I am just too paranoid as well. Not as green either as I think it should be either... then again, they did buy it on the side of the road.

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Re: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5373

well it is healthly if it has new shoots so that is a good sign...i see what you mean about the soil,but as long as it is not all pine mulch it should be ok.it will retain water longer than soil so you will need to let it dry out completely . my only concern now is the pot,seeing junis need full sun that pot being black is a hazard. on a hot day it will cook the roots. a coat of light collored paint will remedy that tho ;)
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Re: Hello, I am a new Juniper Bonsai Mommy 5 years 9 months ago #5425

Thank you. It does not appear to be all pine mulch, looks like a mix of it and maybe top soil, I am trying not to dig around in it too much, but I have been aerating it little. Great idea in painting the pot and I had not even thought about that. I actually just bought some pain and brushes to paint some terracotta pots. I will go ahead and give it a little paint job here in the next day or so. With as hot as it has been (in the high 80's low 90's) the soil has pretty much been seeming dried completely every day when I go out to water. At this time I have not been doing any cutting or pruning at all, I have decided to just let her grow the new shoots for now. Should I cut those brown spots out?
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