The Q&A Archives: Junipers that seem almost dead

Question: I have two large (appr. 6') spiraled junipers that were planted from containers into the landscape about 1 1/2 years ago. I almost lost both of them as they turned brown and didn't grow at all. I have finally gotten to the point that there is new growth on the tips but the back side is still completely dry and brown. I keep them well watered but not moist. I understood them to be drought tolerant, but when I don't water them well, the green coloring gets quite pale and what little green foliage there is turns limp. They were quite expensive and I've never had trouble with this species before. Any clues? I was going to wait until spring to fertilize. Any suggestions or assistance that you can provide is GREATLY appreciated.

Thank you,
Bridget Hannifin

Answer: Bridget,

New plants have very confined, limited root systems. Until they are established it takes more frequent watering to keep them going in the heat. Over the course of a few months you can gradually back off to less frequent watering. The brown areas will not regreen as these plants can only produce new growth from green, living growth areas.

The initial stress and shock of planting really set your plants back but if the living areas are still fairly well spread throughout the plant it is probably worth leaving them in to see if they can fill back in again over time.

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