Brown needles on Blue Juniper Tree - Knowledgebase Question

Hilton Head Island, SC
Question by famj
June 3, 2006
I live in Hilton Head SC and have a large five year old blue juniper tree. Each year it sheds some brown needles from the inside of the tree; but this year the brown needles appear to be much more extensive. The outer branches appear to be still very healthy. The tree receives at least five hours of direct sunlight each day and I water it thoroughly once a week. It is planted on a mound so it gets good drainage and I give it Hollytone acid fertilizer in the spring by applying it in holes driven around the perimeter of the bottom outer branches. The tree is normally quite beautiful and the center piece of a large front garden featuring a variety of camellias and gardenias (all Monrovia). I've even gotten some dogwoods to grow well in this semi-tropical envirnoment. I would really hate to lose the juniper tree and would very much appreciate it if you would provide me some input about what I should do, if anything. Or, if necessary, you may have another source that I should contact.

P.S. My wife would really like to obtain a key lime tree. Do you sell them and how could I order one.


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Answer from NGA
June 3, 2006

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It's normal for your juniper to lose some of its oldest needles - those on the innermost parts are the oldest. So, what you describe is somewhat normal. However, losing large amounts of inside foliage indicates something else is going on here - either a fungal disease or an infestation of spider mites. Spider mites love junipers and a large population can defoliate a plant. Inspect your juniper for signs of webbing within the inner foliage and stems. And, take a sheet of white paper, hold it in the middle of your juniper and shake or tap the branches. Look closely at the debris that falls. Spider mites are tiny and either red or black. They look like little pepper flakes. If they move, they are spider mites and you'll want to control them before they totally overtake your juniper. If you find no insect problems, then suspect a fungal disease. To make sure, take a sample of the affected plant material to your local Cooperative Extension office or Master Gardener Clinic. A microscopic exam will determine whether or not a fungal disease is causing the problem. Once you've identified the problem, you can control it and help your juniper regain its health.

Monrovia does grow lime trees (Mexican Lime and Bearss). Monrovia is a wholesale nursery and does not sell to the public but you can find Monrovia stock at one of the following local retailers:
THE GREENERY, INC.
960 WM. HILTON PARKWAY
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC 29938
(843) 785-3848


THE GREENERY, INC. #2
1117 FORDING ISLAND ROAD
BLUFFTON, SC 29910
(843) 815-2188
http://www.thegreeneryinc.com



SUNSHINE NURSERY, INC.
38 PLANTATION PARK DRIVE
BLUFFTON, SC 29910
(843) 757-7256
http://www.sunshinehhi.com


HESTER & ZIPPERER HOME&GDN
418 JOHNNIE MERCER BLVD.
SAVANNAH, GA 31410
(912) 897-5581



BUDS & BLOOMS LANDSCAPING
42 SEA ISLAND PARKWAY
BEAUFORT, SC 29907
(843) 522-0690


SKINNER NURSERIES-HARDEE
6716 SPEEDWAY BLVD
HARDEEVILLE, SC 29927
(843) 784-5600

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