How to Care for Junipers

Overview

Juniper trees require very little interference or care. Clemson University Cooperative Extension cites improper planting and environmental stress among the few problems with the tree. It suggests choosing from disease resistant varieties as an additional hedge against problems. Junipers produce small, blue berries that attract birds and wildlife. Juniper berries are widely used as a flavoring and for their medicinal properties, but be warned, some varieties of juniper berries are toxic.

Selection and Care

Step 1

Choose a juniper that will fit the space and conditions of the location you have in mind. Educate yourself on the average height and width of the mature tree, as some varieties may exceed the size of the space after several years of growth and cultivars vary widely. Space the plants with their potential growth in mind. Junipers, depending on the type you choose, may take on a globe form, pyramid form or spreading form. According to Fort Valley State University, junipers do not tolerate severe pruning well. The plant may be slow to recover, incomplete in recovery and, if it recovers, the shape may be affected.

Step 2

Research a variety of junipers before you decide on one selection. All can tolerate a high soil pH and exposed windy areas, and they prefer nearly full sun and sandy soil, but certain varieties are better suited to specific environmental conditions.

Step 3

Prune junipers yearly, if needed. Leave foliage on any branches receiving cuts. According to the University of Missouri Extension Service, any major pruning or particularly harsh pruning should be done in April, if possible. The extension service also warns that junipers are prone to developing a dead zone toward the center. While pyramidal form juniper may be shortened by up to 20 percent, they advise against making cuts that extend into the dead zone area. Instead, trim around the full circumference to reduce the bulk of the tree.

Step 4

Remove any galls (brown, walnut-shaped growths formed by cedar-apple rust) and bagworm sacs (1- to 2-inch-long brown cases). Clemson Cooperative Extension recommends selecting juniper varieties (and any apple tree varieties to be planted nearby) that are resistant to rust.

Step 5

Ensure proper drainage of the planting site. Root rot is a serious fungal disease that can slowly kill junipers in areas where flooding and standing water affect the tree. Inspect the type of soil present before you plant. Clay soil is heavy and provides poor drainage. Brown needles can be caused by a lack of water, over watering or disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears

References

  • University of Minnesota Extension--Choosing Landscape Evergreens
  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension--Juniper Diseases & Insect Pests
  • University of Missouri Extension--Pruning Ornamental Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • Colorado State University Extension--Tree and Shrub Maintenance and Care
  • Fort Valley State University--Arborvitae, Juniper, Pine Pruning
Keywords: juniper berries, root rot, fungal disease

About this Author

Alice Moon has been a freelance writer for one year, writing on the Internet for over 10 years. Moon holds a B.S. in political science (Asian studies minor). She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, DC. She traveled through Asia as part of a delegation from her university to its sister universities overseas.