How to Grow and Care for Juniper
Among the many garden plants that grace our gardens and landscapes, junipers have been one of the more popular ones, junipers are coniferous shrubs or trees belonging to the cypress family. What I found interesting about junipers is their ability to grow in most regions.
Junipers are native to The UK, Europe, and much of the northern hemisphere. In its natural habitat junipers can be found growing in old native pine woodlands, chalk lowland, rocky areas, and moorland. Junipers are highly prized for their foliage (leaves).
There are some 50-60 species of juniper giving a wide selection to choose from, junipers are also popular in helping to prevent soil erosion. Junipers can be grown as a screen, ground cover, or can be used in foundation planting. Depending on the variety some species can reach heights of 20 ft or more. If you’re interested in learning more about juniper plant care continue reading as we take a closer look.
The planting location
Junipers grow best in full to partial sunlight, six hours of sunlight is ideal for junipers to thrive.
Juniper soil type
Although junipers tolerate a wide range of soil including clay soils they prefer a well-drained sandy clay or loamy soil.
Junipers that are newly installed should be watered twice a week in dry weather, water weekly for the first summer. Once junipers are established they are drought resistant relying on rainfall for moisture.
Junipers can be fertilized in late winter to early spring just before the new growth begins, a complete slow-release fertilizer such as 16-4-8 or 12-4-8 is ideal. Before applying fertilizers read and follow the manufacturer’s label for the best results. After fertilizer application water thoroughly.
Garden insect pests of juniper
Common insect problems of junipers are scales, aphids, bagworms, juniper twig girdler, and spider mites. Spider mites and aphids can be controlled with a strong spray of water from a garden hose or the use of insecticides such as insecticidal soap etc… will bring control, sign of aphids include sooty mold, a black substance that covers the leaves surface.
Scales do the same damage as aphids by encouraging sooty mold, the use of systemic insecticides or a dormant oil application in the winter will offer help.
Bagworms cause damage by eating the pine needles, they also produce a cocoon with the needles. These worms are 2 inches long and are easily spotted by hanging from the branches. For control to be effective treat bagworms at the larva stage with Ortho Tree and Shrub Insect killer apply late in the spring after the worms hatch. Before applying insect killer read and follow the manufacturer’s label for the best results.
The juniper twig girdler is a month that’s brown in color with small shiny wings, signs of this moth show up as the smaller limbs of the juniper turning yellow followed by browning which eventually dies. The limbs also take on a checkerboard green and brown color. Control measures include removing infected branches along with applying insecticides in late March and early Spring to eliminate the adult moth.
Diseases of juniper
Keep a watch for these diseases and treat them as followed.
Phomopsis Tip Blight
The fungus that causes this disease affects the tips of branches, mature foliage remains green because of its resistance while the new growth becomes infected. Twigs that are infected turn pale and as the disease persists the twigs take on a reddish-brown color that is followed by death.
Phomopsis tip blight normally develops during the spring or summer months, during conditions that are wet and warm, flush of new growth.
Cercospora twig blight
This disease is brought on by a fungus, infections this disease begins with the older needles that are located on the lower branches inside of the plant. The branch tips remain healthy while the browning of the needle spreads in and upward and outward direction.
In the late summer, the infected branches turn brown and die, the plant will lose its beautiful appearance with the infected area losing its foliage.
Twig and Tip Blight
Twig and tip blight show up as dieback of the tips and in some cases, the entire needle turns brown. Needles may drop from the plant, also at the junction of live and dead wood dark cankers may be seen. This disease that’s brought on by a fungus is encouraged by wet warm conditions.
Control and treatment
Do not install junipers in areas that are poorly drained and shaded, provide good air circulation by giving proper spacing, overwatering or extreme drought conditions can also present a problem. Branches that are diseased and browning should be prune and properly disposed of. Fungicides that are listed to treat junipers can also be used. Before applying read and followed the manufacture’s label. Purchasing healthy disease resistance varieties, however, is the best choice.
Phytophthora Root Rot
A soil-borne fungus is responsible for this disease-causing thinning out of the leaves, the center of the roots losses its white healthy color turning reddish-brown. The outer layer of the roots comes apart easily from the core. If this disease is allowed to persist the entire plant will eventually die.
Varieties that are most susceptible to this disease should be avoided, areas that have poor drainage should be avoided also. Adding materials such as ground pine bark will help to condition the soil, pine barks should be planted to a depth of 8-12 ft. The use of a raised bed will also offer some help, fungicides that are labeled to treat this disease can be used as a preventive measure.
Junipers need little to no pruning, however in order for the plant to retain its natural form while maintaining a healthy appearance during early spring remove dead branches along with trimming overgrowth. Cutting back severely may result in permanent damage (plant appearance) of junipers
Base on the variety junipers can be installed in containers, along hillsides, and slope areas can be used in different parts of the landscapes including the border.
The final word on juniper plant care
The juniper plant is not fussy at all, apart from a few issues that may arise these garden beauties are easy to maintain and will add to the overall appearance of your landscape and garden areas. Junipers have made a name for themselves that’s why they are so popular. Give junipers a try and see why they are a gardeners favorite.