The Q&A Archives: Japanese Sky Pencil Shrub

Question: We purchased two Japanese Sky Pencil shrubs in
April of 2005. The shrubs are starting to lose their leaves and are starting to look like they are dying. The temp's in our area have been extremely hot and dry. We have been watering regularly. Are they getting too much water? Not enough? They are planted in a sunny area flanking the front porch. Any suggestions or info? I really hate to lose these shrubs since they are so beautiful and rather expensive.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Paul Schumacher

Answer: Junipers can take full sun and heat, and regular watering, as long as the soil drains well. Your shrubs may be battling transplant stress in addition to hot weather. It may take a little while longer for the roots to establish themselves in their new homes. In the meantime, water deeply once each week, applying water slowly so it has a chance to trickle down and wet the entire root mass. You might check to see how efficient your watering is by watering as usual, waiting 3-4 days, then digging a hole near the roots of your plant. If the soil is still moist 3 inches beneath the surface, you won't have to water for a few days; if it's dry, it's time to water; if it's soggy wet, it doesn't drain well and your plants may be susceptible to root rot. Aside from watering correctly, there's not much else you can do to help your plants establish themselves, other than being patient with them.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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