The Q&A Archives: "Blue Rug Junipers"

Question: Two years ago, I planted 4 blue rug junipers to use as a ground cover to hide the weeds. They have not grown much within the time frame. Two of them have the bluish grey fruit on them. Then two of them have some brown on the branches which I clipped off. They get partial sun during the day. I fertilized all of them a week ago. The two that have the brown branches are close to wood chips that I use as a mulch. I don't know what my next plan of action is. Can you please give me any ideas or suggestions that you might have. Thank you in advance.
Debbie Panarella

Answer: Juniper will take a year or two to become well rooted and established. This is not a terribly fast grower even then, it might grow a foot a year at most. They really grow better in a location with full sun all day or a bare minimum of six hours of direct sun including the hour of noon -- in too much shade they will grow slowly and may be a bit sparse. Do not overfertilize them, they are not heavy feeders and overfeeding is not helpful. An annual application of a general purpose granular or slow release fertilizer such as 10-10-10 (read and follow the label directions) plu s maybe a top dressing of compost each spring should be adequate. The mulch will also help feed the soil slowly as it breaks down over time. Your mulch chips should be under or next to the branches but should not touch the crown or center stem of the plant. The mulch should only be about two to three inches deep. The soil should be evenly moist yet well drained, meaning not sopping wet. They will also do better in a spot with good air circulation. The browning can be caused by a variety of factors. It could be related to poor air circulation, over watering, underwatering, or a pest or disease problem, or possibly to poor rooting. If the browning recurs you may want to check with your county extension or a professionally certified nurseryman to get a specific diagnosis. Good luck with your junipers!

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