Plant Health Alert – Juniper Issues
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Conifers are plants that have needles and cones instead of leaves. Conifers need special care and take extra effort to grow. A gardener must improve the soil before planting, provide adequate irrigation during dry periods and make sure the plants get plenty of sunlight. Junipers have a reputation as a tough plants but they are not immune to poor planting practices and neglect.
‘Blue Rug’ juniper and shore juniper are used extensively as ground cover plants. The plants grow relatively quickly as they trail along the ground providing soil stabilization on slopes. Junipers are generally plentiful in garden centers.
When someone sends me an image of struggling junipers or any plant for that matter, my first guess is people! Planting plants in the wrong area (too much shade), poor planting practices such as planting the plant too deep, over watering and excessive mulch all lead to plant health issues. Physical damage from human activities, chemical damage and many other human caused problems are more likely to be the cause of plant health issues than disease or insect pests.
Once I’ve worked with the client to eliminate humans as the plant problem, I turn to the most common landscape issues at the moment. Voles have been very prevalent in the past few years. I have diagnosed whole hillsides covered in junipers that were being killed by voles. Voles are like little beavers. They nibble the trunks and roots eventually killing plants.