Q. Why is my bonsai juniper turning brown?
If only a small portion of the needles are turning brown on your juniper, this may be a natural process. During the fall, the inner, older foliage of most evergreen conifers dies and new needles take its place. However, if the browning is extensive then this indicates a more serious problem.
If you are growing your bonsai indoors, you are battling the fact that junipers are trees and so prefer to grow outdoors as they do in the wild. Also, most bonsai are grown in shallow containers which introduces another challenge.
The following tips will help to keep your plant healthy:
Do not over- or under-water. Test the soil by poking your finger in it. If it feels dry or nearly dry, then water it. You will probably need to water every 1-3 days. A way to water your bonsai is to place it in a tub with water filled to the brim of the plant's container. Let it soak up the moisture and then remove when the top feels wet.
Use free-draining soil such as commercial bonsai soil or a 1:1 mixture of fine pine bark and small gravel.
Feed the bonsai once every two weeks with a weak solution (1/4 strength) of 10-10-10 fertilizer during the growth season. Organic fertilizer is a another option.
Junipers like a dormant period each year. In winter, do not fertilize and keep it in a cool location.
Keep the plant in a sunny or partially shaded location.
If possible, move your bonsai outdoors in a protected area. Keep it shaded at first to acclimate it, then move it gradually to a sunnier but still protected location.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service