Blue Juniper - Juniperus squamata

General Information: This juniper is notable for its striking blue-gray foliage. A number of varieties exist, including 'Meyeri', 'Blue Carpet' and 'Blue Star'. Blue Carpet is a prostrate variety that is especially suitable for cascade and semi-cascade styles. Other varieties can be used for any style other than broom.

Lighting: Full sun.

Temperature: Wide range of temperaturs, will tolerate freezing.

Watering: Spray the foliage with water daily during the growing season. Water when the soil is moderately dry (to a depth of 1/2 to 1 inch) but do not let the soil dry out completely.

Feeding: From early spring to autumn ever 20-30 days using a slow-acting organic fertilizer.

If you prefer to use chemical fertilizers, apply a half-strength solution every other week of a reasonably balanced fertilizer. You may wish to alternate with an acidic fertilizer such as Miracid.

You should not fertilize during the hottest part of the summer (July-mid August in the northern hemisphere), or if the tree is weak or has recently (2-4 weeks) been repotted.

Pruning and wiring: Reduce the roots gradually, removing no more than one third of the roots at each repotting. To develop the foliage, pinch out the tender new shoots using your fingers. Do not use scissors, as the cut needles will turn brown. Pinching must be done continuously during the growing season.

Prune undesirable branches (especially those growing straight down from their parent branch) when repotting or during the growing season.

Wiring is best done in autumn or early winter, so that the branches can become accustomed to their new position while the tree is dormant. Wiring done at other times must be watched carefully for signs of wire cutting into the bark, and must be removed immediately if this happens. If necessary, the tree can be re-wired after removing the old wire.

Propagation: Cuttings can be taken in spring.

Repotting Repot young trees (up to 10 years) every other year. Repot older trees every 3-4 years. Repotting is best done in spring. Junipers can also be repotted in autumn if necessary, since they enter a period of renewed root growth at that time. Extensive root pruning in autumn is probably not a good idea, however. Use a good quality bonsai compost, and add 20% extra potting grit.

The tree should be protected from wind and direct sun for a month or two after repotting.

Pests and dseases: Junipers are a favorite victim of red spider mites. If the tree appears weak, with yellowing foliage, it may have spider mites. To check for spider mites, hold a sheet of white paper under a branch and gently shake the foliage. If the paper comes away with many small dots that move, it has spider mites. To combat spider mites, spray with insecticidal soap or a nicotine solution (which can be made by soaking tobacco in water overnight).

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