The Q&A Archives: Browing Branches on Topiary Evergreen

Question: I recently planted a topiary form San Jose Juniper. I'm finding branches that are brown and dried out - dead - near the trunk, with younger or very new growth on the tips. I've read that this is the normal growth pattern for evergreens. Can I do something to keep it looking a nice green without the brown parts?

Answer: What you describe is the normal growth habit for juniper so you can't stop it completely, but you can minimize the browning. Most juniper growth is at the tips of the branches. By pinching and pruning regularly you'll keep the tips growing and will also force growth from latent buds farther down on the stems. The trick is to prune small bits off by pinching the leader off of each twig during the spring growth spurt. With regular pruning you'll keep your plant in a constant state of renewal, eliminating a lot of the brown.

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