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I bought a California juniper a year ago. I read a few books, and have the general idea. It said to let the plant become used to the local weather, humidity, etc. Ok...now its time to take it out of the plastic pot and go for it...and I'm stalling. I thought I was supposed wait til spring to replant it, but you said fall was the time? Or was that just for trimming? I'm really nervous about cutting back the root system, and trimming away the wrong piece of green. Don't junipers go dormant in the winter? I can place mine in the garage where it will get cold during the Michigan winter, but won't get frost or ice. It was fine all all last winter. So should I start now? Or wait til spring? Its just that first cut... Our temps are supposed to start dropping next week to more fall like weather.
Well, I'm still learning myself but I'll offer up what I can. I think you should wait until spring to repot and if you need to cut back the roots that seems like a better time to do so. I wouldn't want to stress the plant too much right before the cold Michigan winter begins. You might not even need to prune the roots yet. You can do some light pruning throughout the growing season (which you're probably just coming to the end of) by pinching off the new growth with your fingers. I think you could probably get away with plucking some of the other needles that you know you won't want. I would wait until spring if you have to make any major cuts of branches though. If nothing else, that will give you more time to get familiar with bonsai and, hopefully, become more used to the idea of making that first cut.
Junipers do need dormancy in winter which is why they don't live if you try to keep them as indoor plants. The garage will probably be fine for the winter though.
I hope that helps. In the end, I would just encourage you not to worry. You might lose a few plants along the way, but try to learn from your mistakes and, above all, have fun with it. It's supposed to be relaxing and rewarding and it's denititely not something that should make you nervous!