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Juniper Care Guide

Juniper first appeared in my yard when I was little, and my parents bring it from the mountains. It was very interesting for me because I had never seen these plants before. It was a Common Juniper (Juniperus communis), it had a columnar shape of the crown and sharp needles, it was not very pleasant to touch this plant))).

Then we had a Juniperus sabina with a bushy crown shape, and so it all began. When I started growing plants, the first thing I bought was Blue Star Juniper and Dream Joy Juniper. These were very beautiful plants that I still grow.

This article is devoted to planting and growing Juniper. Here I want to tell you about all my many years of experience in caring for these plants. I will also share with you pictures from my garden and some practical recommendations.

Brief Care Information

Name Juniper, Juniperus
Hardiness Zone (USDA) 3-10
Season Spring-Fall
Light Sun, Partial Sun
Width 15-40 inches
Height 6-100 inches
Pests Juniper scale, Spider Mite, Bagworm
Disease Juniper Apple Rust, Juniper Blight
Water Drought-resistant plant
Soil Well-drained, Ph 5.0-7.0

Choose only healthy-looking plants and with a strong root system.

I have always said and continue to do so that to keep your plants healthy; you need to buy quality planting material. I have been in many nurseries and seen that sellers grow their plants differently; some of them do not even treat them for the disease.

Treat the purchase of Juniper responsibly, savings, in this case, can bring more problems than pleasure. First of all, the nursery must be well-groomed and neat. The more employees there are, and the better everything is automated, the higher the chances that the plants are better cared for.

First of all, pay attention to the needles of plants, there should be no stains or other foreign traces of disease or insects. The needles should be a healthy, rich color that is inherent in a particular variety. If you notice brown or dry needles, then it may be a sign of illness.

Next, remove the plant from the pot and inspect the root system. The roots should be reddish-brown with white tips. If the roots are dark brown with a gray tinge, then it may mean that it is rotten. Also, there should be no insects.

Another problem is the size of the pot. Some sellers rarely transplant their plants, and therefore the root system is not formed properly. With insufficient space, the roots will grow in a circle, and as a result, a ball of roots will form. I do not recommend buying such a plant because it will take root for a long time in your garden and may even die.

If you order plants online, be sure to read all the comments about this seller. Prefer only well-known nurseries with a good reputation.

Choose sunny places for planting.

As you know, junipers are sun-loving plants, so it is better to plant them in full sun. Most species grow in the mountains on the rocks, so no one prevents them from getting a lot of suns. These are the conditions you need to provide for them.

Low varieties are best planted in front of tall plants; this way, you can achieve a cascade, which is very popular in ornamental horticulture. Creeping varieties (Juniperus horisontalis, Juniperus procumbens, Juniperus squamata) are perfect for covering the soil on a slope. They also prevent soil erosion.

Tall varieties will look great as a vertical accent in the composition. For this purpose, it is better to approach Juniperus communis Gold Cone or Blue Arrow Juniper, etc.

The Skyrocket variety is often used as a living fence.

Blue Star Juniper

No matter what purpose you grow Juniper, remember that it needs enough sunlight. However, not everyone has this opportunity. Therefore, these plants often grow in partial shade.

Growing in the partial sun or light shade is also possible; most species will grow well. They may not have such a thick crown as in the sun, and the color of the needles may be slightly different, but in general, everything will be ok. Here the main thing is that the plant receives at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

From the above, we can conclude that Juniper can be planted on the east or west side of the house. They can also be planted to the right or left of tall plants.

Full shade is a place where Juniper will not grow. If you put him there, he will most likely not die immediately. In the shade, it will develop poorly, and it will not be dense. In addition, the lack of sunlight will develop fungal diseases. After a while, the plant will die.

All my junipers grow in full or partial sun, and they grow well in such conditions. Therefore, I recommend that you plant them in sunny places.

Plant in well-drained soil.

As I mentioned above, Juniper grows on rocks in rocky soil. Therefore, it is better to plant these plants in well-drained soil with the addition of organic matter. Soil acidity is not particularly important. Also, these plants feel great on poor soils.

The ideal substrate is a mixture of garden soil with compost and a small number of small stones. The amount of organic matter should not exceed 25%. You can also arrange drainage at the planting site.

Often I can not give junipers the perfect soil mixture. Sometimes there are no necessary components, and sometimes there is not enough time to do it. Therefore, some of my plants grow in ordinary garden soil. So far, I have not noticed any negative consequences of such cultivation.

Some gardeners claim that these plants feel good in a loamy soil. Be that as it may, if you have the opportunity to add a little compost or other organic matter to the soil, do so.

I also want to say a few words about peat. I once bought a Blue Carpet Juniper that grew in a pot filled with clean peat, and it felt really good. From this, I conclude that peat is suitable for growing these plants. The only thing I advise if you have peat is to mix it with garden soil. As a result, the substrate will be loose and will not dry quickly.

Plant junipers in the spring.

Let’s talk a little about when it is better to plant junipers because it directly affects how quickly and how well it will establish in your garden.

I planted junipers at different times of the year, but I want to say that the result was not always good. If planted too early or too late, there is a high probability that the plant will lag behind in growth.

The first favorable period comes in the spring when the ground thaws. You need to wait a bit and then start planting. This is usually the second half of March, although, for different hardiness zones, the time may vary.

The main thing is to plant the plants before they start to grow, but not before they wake up. A sign that the plants have come out of hibernation is the color of the needles. In winter, the needles are pale green-yellow. In early spring, when the plant comes to life, the color of the needles becomes brighter and green.

I want to say that if you do not plant in this period of time, nothing critical will happen. Therefore, you can plant junipers a little later in April or May, and it will just be a little harder for the plant.

The beginning of summer is the deadline when you can plant these plants in the first half of the year. I know that many sellers claim that potted junipers can be planted throughout the season. However, I do not recommend doing so.

I planted junipers many times in the summer, and many of them died. Therefore, in summer you can plant only in the first half of June or in the second half of August, provided that there is no heat.

The second favorable period is autumn. During this time of year, you can plant at any time; the main thing is to do it a month before the first frosts.

In winter, I do not recommend experimenting with planting junipers. If you plant at this time, there is a high probability that the plant will continue to grow in the spring. However, the plant may die.

When planting, do not deepen the plant.

Water the Juniper well for a few days before planting. This will saturate the plant with enough moisture, which it will need for better adaptation to the new place.

I recommend planting in cloudy weather when the sun is not too bright. If there is no such weather, then plant Juniper in the morning or evening.

Suppose you have already decided on the place where you will plant Juniper. Then dig a hole twice the size of the pot. If you have a high groundwater level in the yard, then be sure to pour drainage on the bottom of the pit. You can use expanded clay or stones as drainage.

Then pour into the pit a little prepared soil. Remove the plant from the pot, try not to damage the roots. Arrange it so that the surface of the potted plant and the surface of your garden are level. If you plant the plant deeper, the lower part of the trunk may be covered with earth, which can lead to rot of the trunk.

Fill the entire empty space in the pit with soil. You can add a little fertilizer to the pit, and it will give the plant energy to start. Slightly compress the soil around the plant.

After planting, you need to water the Juniper. I recommend gradually saturating the soil around the plant with water. Give Juniper a small amount of water two or three times a day. This way, you will be able to avoid the swamp around.

In case you plant Juniper in sunny weather, I recommend shading it for a while. This will make it easier for the plant to tolerate planting. Stretch the net in front of the plant to shade it from the midday sun.

Also, like shade, you can use a pot with a tall plant that can be placed in front of the Juniper. When you see that the plant has started to grow, you can remove the shade.

For two months, water the plant about 1-2 times a week if there is no rain. Do not allow the soil around to dry out. However, do not use a lot of water, avoid waterlogging.

Also, when watering, pour the branches and needles. Conifers love when they are wet, in which case the needles become juicier.

Within two years, Juniper will take root. Unfortunately, sometimes it happens that in the first year the plant begins to grow and form new branches and needles, but the following year dies. So you have to be ready for anything.

There may also be another situation to make it easier to survive the transplant shock part of the branches or needles may dry out. But in general, the plant is alive. If this happens to you, do not worry; just remove the dry branches, and that’s it.

Junipers do not need much water.

Above I have already described how to water the Juniper after planting. Next, I will talk about water in more detail.

Junipers are known to be drought-tolerant plants, and I agree with that. Once this plant takes root, it needs almost no watering. I almost never water my junipers. They keep almost all the water from the rain.

In dry and hot weather, I turn on the general watering and water the whole garden; as a result, junipers also get water. In my garden, these plants have more than enough moisture. I never had a problem with them suffering from drought.

Although I want to share one observation, with a little watering in dry weather, they have more juicy and bright needles. In a drought, if they are not watered, they will survive, but will not have such a decorative appearance as with sufficient moisture.

From this, we can conclude that for a beautiful look, they need to be watered in dry and hot weather. When watering, you need to use not too much water. Just keep the soil around slightly moist. And of course, do not water the Juniper in wet weather!

Juniper, such as Juniperus conferta, has thicker needles and grows on the coast, so it needs a little more moisture than other species. If you have varieties of this Juniper, water them a little more than others.

Feed with a small amount of fertilizer.

Junipers grow well without fertilizers because they are mostly distributed in places where the soil is poor in nutrients. So if you do not have the opportunity to fertilize them, then they will still grow quite well.

However, a small amount of fertilizer will accelerate the growth of these plants; in addition, they will look lusher. So if you want to speed up the growth of your plants, you can fertilize them. This is especially true for young junipers.

I fertilize with a small amount of fertilizer once a year in early spring. As a fertilizer, I recommend using long-acting granules with a balanced formula NPK. There are many good fertilizers on the market that are specifically designed for junipers. I prefer the Osmocote.

Depending on the size of the plants, I give them 1.5-2 ounces for each plant. I usually feed varieties that are rare and have outstanding decorative characteristics.

I want to warn you against excess fertilizer. A large amount of fertilizer will stimulate vigorous growth, and young shoots will not have time to mature normally. As a result, they will be brittle and may freeze in winter.

A lot of green mass will give an additional load for the main branches, and in strong winds, they can break (this applies to columnar forms). Also, with an excess of fertilizers, plants will become more vulnerable to disease.

So fertilize junipers no more than once a year with a small amount of fertilizer.

I do not fertilize large adult junipers at all, because if they take root well, their growth should be restrained and not stimulated.

I do not recommend fertilizing these plants with organic fertilizers (compost, etc.). There are a lot of bacteria in this type of fertilizer, and it will not lead to anything good.

Multiply plants by cuttings.

Propagation by cuttings is the easiest way to increase the amount of Juniper. Between the bark and wood of Juniper, there is a lot of cambium as a result of which these plants are well-rooted.

However, not all species reproduce equally well by cuttings. For example, the branches of Common Juniper are very poorly rooted. On the other hand, creeping species such as Juniperus Squamata take roots very well.

All you need is to tear a branch from the plant where it connects to the trunk and stick it in clean soil based on peat. It is best to do this in the spring. Next, the cuttings need to be watered and moved to the greenhouse. By the end of the year, some branches will take root, and some will dry out. A year later, you can transplant them into individual pots.

Some species of Juniper, such as Juniperus sabina, take root very well. You can even root their cuttings in ordinary garden soil in the shade of trees.

Another easy way to reproduce is layering. In this way, it is convenient to propagate low-growing varieties. You need to bend the lower branch to the bottom so that it touches the ground. In that position, it needs to be fixed. This can be done with a peg or steel bracket.

After about a year, the branch forms roots, after which it can be cut off from the mother plant. Then it should grow for another year in the same place. After two years, the new plant can be transplanted to a new place.

Another interesting way to propagate is by seed. Unfortunately, varietal characteristics are very poorly transmitted to seedlings. Therefore, this path is practiced mainly by hybridizers to obtain new varieties.

The most exotic and difficult is grafting. This method is used for the reproduction of rare varieties or to obtain stem forms. I tried to graft juniper several times but never succeeded.

Treat junipers with anti-disease agents.

Most juniper diseases are caused by fungal spores and affect different parts of the plant. I will briefly talk about the main diseases and how to treat them.

The most common disease is Juniper Apple Rust. For development, this fungus needs two types of trees – apple (or pear) and Juniper. Spores overwinter under the bark of Juniper. When spring comes, orange galls have formed that looks like jelly. Then new spores move in the wind and infect fruit trees.

It is very difficult to treat such a disease. First of all, you can not plant fruit trees near the Juniper. When you notice this disease, immediately remove all branches infected with it. Also, be sure to spray the plants with a fungicide designed for this purpose, if necessary, repeat the spraying.

The next common disease is Twig blight. When a plant is affected by this disease, the needles begin to turn brown and die. First, it all starts with the tips, and if you do not treat the disease progresses, and the branches begin to die.

If you have this problem, then remove the affected branches and burn them or take them away from the yard. Then spray the plants with a fungicide designed to combat this disease. In case of severe damage, it is best to destroy the plant.

There are a few less common diseases that can also pose a threat to your junipers. I will describe all diseases in more detail in another article.

In general, I recommend spraying junipers with various fungicides several times a year because it is easier to prevent infection than to treat it afterward.

Treat plants with pesticides.

Junipers can be damaged by various insects, but some of them pose the greatest threat. In this chapter, I will briefly describe the three most common pests of these plants.

Juniper scale is almost the biggest enemy of Juniper. External signs of the presence of this pest are white spots and blisters on the needles. Under this white coating, insects overwinter and lay eggs. This pest can cause serious damage to your plants.

If you have these insects, mix one teaspoon of soap in a gallon of water and then add two tablespoons of Neem Oil and shake well. Spray Juniper with this solution; this will usually be enough. If the insects have not disappeared, then I recommend spraying the plants with a systemic pesticide designed to control this pest.

The second most common pest is Spider Mite. These are tiny beetles that form colonies on plants. As a result of their activity, the needles begin to dry and fall off. Then the branches begin to dry, and the plant may die.

It is difficult to notice these pests, but if you see a tiny cobweb between the needles and branches, then it may be a sign of infection with this pest. The most effective method to get rid of it is an insecticide (acaricide), which is designed to deal with it.

Another common insect that can harm junipers is Bagworm. These are quite large insects, and it is difficult not to notice them. A sign of their presence is the bags in which the larvae develop.

If you notice these bags and they are few, just destroy them. However, if they have multiplied in large numbers, then you will have to apply pesticides that are labeled against it.

As always, I recommend at least twice a year to do preventive spraying with pesticides.

Junipers need pruning.

Depending on what result you want to get, you can prune junipers, or you can let them grow freely. However, I still recommend trimming them a bit.

The first time you need to shorten your plants is a young growth. This is especially true of creeping varieties; their shoots spread fairly fast, for example, Blue Carpet Juniper. If you want to have a compact bush, you need to prune it. If you want to cover the maximum area then of course pruning is not required.

It is also often the case that columnar forms become too tall and need to be trimmed in height, for example, Blue Arrow Juniper. You can easily cut with a saw to the height you need. There is one rule: do not remove more than a third of the branches and needles a year. Otherwise, the plant may become stressed and die.

I recommend thinning heavily thickened plants from time to time. This is especially true of wide-pyramidal varieties such as Wichita Blue Juniper. Use pruning shears to remove 5% of thin branches no more than 10 inches long from different parts of the plant. In their place will be gaps that will grow over time.

One of the most popular ways to prune is to form a juniper in the style of Niwaki. This is a real art and requires a lot of time and patience. I shape some of my plants this way, and maybe someday I’ll share it with you.

When working, use only high-quality and sharp tools. Also, disinfect it. After work, spray the plants with a solution of fungicide to protect wounds from the disease.

Do not cover junipers for the winter.

As shown in the table at the beginning of the article, junipers are very hardy plants, so you do not need to cover them for the winter. In severe frosts, some species may change their color slightly to brown, but everything will be ok.

I never did anything special to prepare these plants for the winter. Some recommend mulching them with organic mulch. My junipers are mulched with rubble and overwinter well in such conditions.

The only thing I do for the winter is spraying with a fungicide to avoid the development of fungal diseases in case of a warm winter.

Also, you should not water these plants in winter. Usually, in winter, there is enough moisture, and junipers are dormant and do not need much water. Excess water can lead to rot.

Do not fertilize your plants in autumn or winter, as this can lead to the growth of young shoots. They will definitely die from the first frost.

If you grow columnar varieties, such as Skyrocket Juniper, then you can tie it with ribbon or lace so that the snow does not break the crown. This is especially true if your state has snowy winters. During the winter, snow accumulates on plants and can damage them, so tie the branches together or regularly shake the snow off them.

In the spring, I recommend removing all branches that have died during the winter and spray with a fungicide.

Move junipers only in spring.

I have transplanted junipers many times, but unfortunately, it did not always end successfully. There are many videos on the Internet where people transplant conifers and, in particular, junipers, and everything turns out perfectly. However, I want to warn you that this is not always true.

In general, conifers do not tolerate transplanting very well. Junipers are probably better than pines, but there are also problems.

The best time for transplanting is early spring or mid-autumn. The weather at this time should be cloudy, or there may be light rain. If there is no rain a few days before, water the plants well several times.

Do not transplant junipers in the middle of the day; do it better in the morning or evening.

Dig the plant along with the roots and earth on them. Try not to damage the roots and do not shake the ground. The more roots are not damaged, the better.

Move the plant to a new location. Then dig a hole of the same size and plant it there. Then water the plant, repeat watering in two days. The soil around should always be moist until the plant takes root.

If the weather is sunny or if you have damaged the root system, then be sure to shade the Juniper for a few months or even a year.

Containers are also suitable for growing.

Yes, they can. In fact, junipers grow best in all conifers in containers. I have been growing these plants in this way for many years without any problems. Of course, there are some subtleties that I will briefly describe.

First of all, dwarf varieties of Juniper should be grown in pots, for example, Nana Juniper. Columnar and large varieties are not very suitable for pots.

Next, you need to choose the right pot. Suitable for both ceramic and plastic containers. Most importantly, they should not have large drainage holes. Otherwise, the soil will dry out faster, and you will have to water them more often. The size of the containers should also be sufficient; their depth should be at least 5-8 inches and a diameter of 10 inches.

The soil should retain moisture better, so you need to add a little com. This is necessary because the soil in the pots dries much faster, and even drought-resistant junipers can suffer from drought.

Lime Glow Juniper

Junipers overwinter in containers perfectly, and you do not need to cover them with anything. The shelter can even lead to the development of fungal diseases.

I also recommend mulching the pot with small stones, it will better retain moisture in the pot, and the plant will look more beautiful.

The pot should be placed in a sunny place so that the plant has enough light. In dry weather, they need to be watered once or twice a week.

Mulch plants with pine bark.

At the end of the article, I want to say a few words about mulching. Some of my junipers grow without mulch at all, and the other is mulched with gravel. I did not notice any special difference in plant growth. The only thing that retains more moisture under the mulch and junipers need to be watered very rarely.

In the gardens of my friends, I often find pine bark as a mulch. They praised the pine bark. First, it retains moisture, does not rot and does not develop pathogenic bacteria. In addition, the bark slightly acidifies the soil, which is very good for conifers. Therefore, I can recommend you to use such mulch.