Bonsai is a Japanese term simply meaning “tree in tray”. To learn amore about the uses of a juniper bonsai in a Japanese garden read on…
There are several varieties of Juniper that make great bonsai, such as Shimpaku, Chinese Juniper, Green Mound, and Sargent’s. But which one is best for a Japanese Garden? This would be the Japanese Dwarf Garden Juniper.
The Japanese Dwarf Garden Juniper – (Juniperus procumbens nana) or Green Mound Juniper is often associated with bonsai. This juniper is native to southern Japan and is a popular ornamental plant there and in a few other regions. It has a bark that sheds as it grows, giving the look of age, has a shape of an age-old tree, and grows slowly. It is a ground hugging Juniper. The mound of branches are dense and radiate from the center. Its new foliage is bright green and turns bluish green as it matures and in winter, has a purple tint. It makes for wonderful groundcover and group planting on a rocky slope.
The Juniper loves the outdoors and needs full sun. It can tolerate different temperatures, but make sure that its roots don’t get too hot or freeze. Pruning needs to be done in spring and summer. Fertilize just before and during growing season until autumn. If it needs to be repotted, do this in early spring and two to three years after, being in the same pot. The foliage needs to be sprayed with water during the growing season. When the soil is moderately dry to a depth of one half to one inch, then water it, but never let the soil completely dry out. If you follow a regular watering system during the first growing season, then you will establish a large deep root system.
They are available in pre-shaped sizes so you can choose one that will best suit your particular garden. This particular Juniper can’t be just collected in the wild like some juniper can. Sometimes you may get lucky if they are being removed from landscaping and can receive one from there. You can find them sold as ground cover in landscape nurseries. They come in one, three and five gallon sizes. One gallon will make for a good bonsai, but you can use a three or five gallon for a larger bonsai.
These can be set with rocks and in rock gardens and around natural water features, and look nice cascading over a wall, all of which can be found in Japanese gardens. Try pairing this juniper with a Japanese maple, Heavenly Bamboo or even a cherry or plum tree as this look works well. All of this makes this particular juniper good for a Japanese garden, big or small.