Create a Bonsai From a Nursery Juniper




Introduction: Create a Bonsai From a Nursery Juniper

Hi, even though I'm a long time DIYer this is my first instructables. I take no credit in this as I got the idea from a youtube video I watched :

There are plenty of documentation found online for such a project but I love instructables and thought it might give someone an idea for his/her next project.

Basicaly this will show you how to make your own bonsai tree from a nursery juniper bush. I'm sure that bonsai masters will laugh at my tree but remember that you started somewhere to! Please keep negative comments to yourself as I don't care to read them.

Step 1: The Materials

Again, I did not want to invest that much since this is a new hobby I'm trying so I started with the tools I had around.

-Mesh (to prevent dirt from falling through the hole in the pot)
-Shoe goo (not shown) to hold the mesh to the hole
-Wire cutters (to cut the wire)
-Cheap shears (bought for 5$)
-Cisors (didn't realy need to use them)
-Coper wire

Now you have 2 options for coper wire. I went with both to find the best solution for me. You can either buy actual bonsai wire from the bonsai shop or nursery (items in the center of the orange wire). Or you can buy electrical wiring (see orange cable). To be honest, the electrical wire turned out to be the best option, removing the plastic sleeve was annoying but you will save money for sure. One of the wire bundles bought at the nursery cost about 4-5$ (15$ total for the 3) but 4 feet of electrical wire cost about 5$, as you can see in the picture, the wire holds a total of 4 seperate wires of various sizes so you get 4 for 1.

Different sizes of wire are required to shape your tree (will be discussed later)

Step 2: The Tree

I went shopping at a local nursery and bought the same tree used in the you tube video. The tree is a San Jose Juniper tree and cost me 29$ can. I also bought a 10$ terra cota pot that's pretty shallow. Again, purists will be angry at me for not using an actual bonsai pot but they were out of my budget.

Step 3: Making the Cut

Throughout the various articles I have read before doing this it was fairly consistent to think that trimming a bonsai is akin to giving the tree a haricut.

Turns out that this is pretty close to the thruth. Basicaly you now start taking some branches out until you reveal the main trunk of the tree, from that point on you take out any branches that don't seem to fit in the natural shape of the tree.

I found that this was a very gratifying experience as you need to sense the tree and bring out the potential beauty out from it.

As you can see from the pictures I have taken quite a lot out but have kept the main branches which I thought were the most important.

There are several ways to trim the tree. The best methods in my opinion are cutting and pinching. Cutting is fairly straightforward, you simply cut the branch or leaves to the desired lenght.

Pinching is also faily simple, you simply pinch the extremity that you want to remove and pluck it out. From what I've read, this is the better method as it prevents the tips from turning yellow (remains to be seen if it will on those that I've cut). The problem I have found with pinching is that if you pluck to hard (sometimes not even hard at all) you will end up pinching the whole branch so be carefull with that.

Step 4: Training

In this step we will "train" the tree, this basically means that we will give it the shape we want so that it will eventually grow in that direction by itself. We do this by using coper wire that is twisted around the trunk and branches and later bent into shape.

So with the copper wire that we made earlier you will now use it to tie up your tree. First, take the heaviest wire you have (the orignal video recommended 5mm wire, i'm not sure which I used but it was fairly heavy and did a good job at holding the trunk in place)

Push one end of the wire in the ground so it remains anchored solidly. Then start twisting the wire around the trunk, do the same for all of the major branches.

Once you're done you can bend the branches in the direction you think is the best looking for your tree. As you can see from my pictures I tried several shapes but ended up going with the more natural shape of the tree.

Warning* Be carefull while bending branches, they are easy to bend but it is still wood and will split if bend to far (it happened to me, I put it back and held it togheter with wire since it didn't break all the way, I hope it will heal properly)

Once you're done with the major branches, switch to a smaller wire and repeat the process for the smaller branches.

Step 5: Cloning

I hate wasting anything so I tried to reuse as much as I could from all that I cut. Through all the trimmings I had, some were very good looking branches so I deceided to try and clone them. I used 2 methods for this.

In the first I simply scrapped away the bark at the bottom of the branch, dipped it in growth hormones and put in in another pot I had laying around. I did this with a few branches and filled my pot. Even if only 1 of them grows new roots I'll be happy.

The second method was simply putting some trimmings in water to see if roots will grow. Again, nothing to lose, everything to gain!

With the rest I simply put it in my compost bin, my worms should enjoy that.

Now as you can see in the picture, I put my tree on the ground because it had been very sunny the last few days and I wanted it to be in the shade for a few days. Turns out that the next morning it started to snow so I put it up on display as you'll see in the next page.

Step 6: Potting and Display

The last step was the simplest. Putting the tree in it's new pot.

To do this you should use a saw, I used a regular wood saw but you can buy a root saw at most stores.

The pot it came in was between 10-12 inches deep, I cut this down to about 3-4 inches (be carefull of the coper wires you put in when hacking away the roots with your saw).

Once the roots were cut down I put it in a mix of about 50% sand (mostly at the bottom) and 50% hummus.

From what I've read the secret to maintaing a beautifull bonsai is proper watering. I recommend reading up on how to water your tree as this will most likely make the difference between it's life and death!

Thank you for reading my first instructables! Sorry about the typos, french is my main language.

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    3 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Have any pictures of your tree now? how is it doing? I am also starting Bonsai, and would have given it a much more drastic cutting to that tree, as it seems to have no shape. The main branches are way too far from the Trunk from my perspective, and it needs more internal growth and new branches with better tamper. That's my view though. I am curious to see how it developed, cause I have a similar tree that I am about to drastically cut everything.


    5 years ago

    Very nice looking tree! I've got one myself, but it certainly doesn't look that good. I would offer one tip, when wiring the trunk and branches, try to avoid crossing the wires (as this will eventually cut into the bark of the tree as it grows). As you continue in this field of art, you will learn more and more. Good luck!!!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Bonsai is something I've always wanted to try.  But I have neither the patience, nor the skills.  Thanks for sharing your project, its inspired me to go ahead and give it a try.  Nicely written.