Yellowing junipers #709056 - Ask Extension

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Yellowing junipers #709056

Asked August 03, 2020, 4:21 PM EDT

We had several junipers installed as ground cover in April. This month we noticed several are yellowing. While we have been ensuring they have enough water we were advised after planting not to fertilize, so we have not used any. Any advice is welcome. Photos attached.

Montgomery County Maryland

Expert Response

You did not mention the site conditions and how the plants are cared for.
Yellowing may be due to lack of sunlight, overwatering, underwatering, etc. The plants are trying to establish their root system.
We also notice landscape fabric around the base of the plants. Generally the fabric is placed on weed-free ground and covered with another mulch, such as wood chips, to improve its appearance, keep it in place, and reduce damage to the fabric by the sun’s rays. With these mulches, it is important to remove weeds as soon as they are noticed. Otherwise, roots can grow right through the fabric and become difficult to pull. Make sure the fabric is not hindering drainage. https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-724/426-724.pdf

Junipers grow best in full sun in a well drained soil. Junipers are pretty drought-tolerant and need very good drainage to grow well. Shadier sites can retain moisture for longer and Junipers do not do well when consistently wet.

Also, young plants in small nursery pots (the way they are often available as they are more affordable and easier to transplant) can dry out quickly and if not well-monitored for watering may have suffered root damage prior to purchase or planting. This issue - overly-dry or overly-wet roots at some point - is a likely cause of root damage that is leading to leaf discoloration and branch dieback. In such a case, nothing can be done except to give the plant time to recuperate (if it can) and check for watering needs during dry spells. Soak the roots well when it's needed, but let the the top 6 inches of soil (below any mulch) dry out again before the next soaking. As a rough guideline, a soaking or two per week at the most may be needed in a stretch of hot weather with no rain. Make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and away from the base of the shrubs.

Completely brown tips need to be trimmed off, as they will not recover. Yellowed foliage may also brown and fall off, but the stem itself could still be alive and send out new growth in time. No sprays, fertilization, or other treatments are recommended at this time. Monitor the growth of the plants.

 Marian

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