Nursery Stock Junipers

I’m pretty new at bonsai. The first videos I’ve watched are the nursery stock series, and after a visit to my local nursery I’ve found these two junipers.

They are in bad condition as you can see (they were also very cheap, 25$ for both of them) but I figured that they would be a lot of fun to play with and an opportunity to learn without the anxiety to kill them.

I live in northern Spain in the Atlantic region. Winter here is mild and temperatures below 0º Celsius and snow are very rare.

What would you recommend? Just to not touch them and live them alone until spring? Apply some wire? I guess repotting is out of the question.


You definitely want these trees to regain strength before you do any major work. Having said that, I think your best bet is to keep them from freezing and be careful not to over-water this winter. Re-pot in the late spring just as the truly warmer days begin. Do not remove all of the soil and try to preserve as many roots as possible. Make sure to use a well draining bonsai soil and do not over-pot them.

I would not prune or wire these until they are showing signs of recovery. When I do this operation on nursery junipers I typically see new growth and back buds by the end of summer. That means you are probably looking all the way into the summer of 2021 before doing your first styling.

I understand the psychology of buying the markdown plants at the nursery, but you can see that the timeline for working them is not ideal. Spend a little more to get some healthy plants that can be worked sooner and you will be well rewarded.

Best of luck!


Thanks for the advice @andy2sheds. I will be patient then and continue to look for better material in my local nurserys.

Do you think it would be of any help to fertilize them now, or is it to late for this season?

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If you have not dropped below freezing a mild dose may be of some use.

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Winters here are gentle.

Thanks for the advice!

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This time of the year I like to use Morbloom since it has no nitrogen. 0-10-10.

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Hi @Tamino, you could try a dose of seaweed extract, or a weak boost of minerals to help them. Have you looked at the roots at all? Do they feel pot bound? I only ask because it looks as though branches have been pruned off which nurseries tend to do when they die off. So it could be a sign of being pot bound. I think they are a wise investment as you can learn the horticultural side of looking after trees in pots without having spent too much money. Plus, if you get it right they’ll make really good looking trees. I agree with Andy, you should wait until they are in full health before styling.

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I’ve already fertilized with a mild dose of 10-10-10 all purpose fertilizer I have for my garden.

I’ve checked Morbloom and here in Spain is not possible to get it.

Thanks @Keith-in-UK. They have been for a very long time in that pot.

The owner told me that they were in the nursery for at least eight years.

Hi @Tamino, they look pretty pot bound from the phots. You could repot now but would need some protection should the weather turn freaky and you experience extremes of temperature, hot or cold. There appears to be a few white roots which indicates the trees are at least surviving for now. If they were mine I would closely monitor them, looking specifically for alteration of colour in the foliage or any further branches looking ill. If that happens I wouldn’t hesitate to re pot. The alternative, and my preferred method, is to sink the existing pot into a larger pot giving a few inch of soil for the roots to grow into. You could then either repot as normal or leave for a whole year before repotting. (I’ve done that a few times and it’s quite successful and causes less stress on the tree). Also be on the lookout for vine weevils as garden centres do not usually treat for them.

I do something similar except that I put the pot into the ground up to just 1" below the soil line in the pot. Essentially like a grow bag without using a bag. I only did that with trees that I know are going to get repotted in the spring.

Honestly, when looking at those I would just leave them be until they get healthier. You could slip pot them, but to what end? My #1 priority would be to get them healthy. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but sick trees shouldn’t be fertilized.

You’re right about not fertilising sick trees @Bonsai_Bentley, that’s why I suggested using seaweed extract. It contains a lot more minerals rather than the three main elements for growth. However, by slip potting them it will allow the roots a bit more freedom over the winter which in turn will aid the trees recovery. @Tamino said the winters were mild in Northern Spain so root activity should be quite good, plus because of the mild weather the foliage will be able to photosynthesise far better than say here in the UK.
That being said, we are both right and it’s purely down to preference as we can’t be 100% sure of the condition from photos.


I guess I’m going to wait until late February and just repot them. Even if the winter here is not severe we get some occasional freeze and I don’t want to get an unnecessary risks.

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It’s always best to air on the side of caution with the world’s weather in chaos as it is.

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Peep the procumbens juniper in this stream. It’s an absolutely delightful little tree and it’s not all contorted and twisted at all. This is the form I personally favor in a juniper. Movement for sure, just not mangled IMO.

@Keith-in-UK I think you are right. I will be cautious and wait until next spring.

@Bonsai_Bentley Actually my first tree was a procumbens. I bougth it last year and since then it has improved a lot.

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Nice. Where’d you get that container?

I got those containers in a dollar store. They are made out of plastic.

They don’t have, however a drainage hole, but you can drill one or two very easily.

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Nice little tree. It will look superb once it’s styled and potted in a bonsai pot…