Gold Cone Junipers - Dying or Just Struggling? March 2020


With the whole 'social distancing' policy being enforced in our household, I had some time to putter around the yard this weekend.  One of the things that drew my attention was the sad state of these Gold Cone Junipers.  You can see one of them in the photo at the top of this post. 

I bought three of these from Menards on April 6, 2019.  I have the receipt in my little file that shows the purchase date AND the 1 Year guarantee tag on them that you can see in the two photos below.  One note that might be useful for you:  Everytime I buy a tree or a shrub that has a 1 year guarantee, I do 2 things:  I staple one of the plant tags to the receipt and file it away in an envelope.  I also then add it to my Google calendar - one week short of a year.  That means...I bought this on April 6, 2019, I put an entry for these Gold Cone Junipers on March 30th, 2020.



According to the garden diary, I had them on hand by April 22nd and ended up planting them in late April/early May and they looked great

By the end of May last year, they were beautiful.  You can see them in this post showing off a couple of the tiny Hemlocks we planted

By June, I followed the directions that I found online and 'wired them up' to prevent Winter damage

Now?  They look like what you see in the photo at the top of this post.  Dry, brittle and tons of brown needles - mostly in the middle and bottom of the shrub.  I posted about these in September and mentioned the brown parts had already set in

I can't help but wonder if *I* did this to them.  Was the wiring to blame for the current problem?  Should I have let them go and wired them up as they grew?  Was I too aggressive in wiring them in their first year?  The bottoms are terrible.  But....the tops?  The very tips?  Well...they look good. Weird, right?  Look at this:



So...what is a gardener to do?  Yank them out BEFORE their one year mark and take them back for a new set?  Or...leave them in and see if they recover fully? If they don't?  I'm out the $21.88 a piece for the three shrubs. 

Can they be revived?  A quick search on the Web turns up articles like this from Hunker:  How to revive a Juniper.  They list a couple of steps:

1.  Wait.  Prune the juniper when it new growth emerges in early Spring. 
2.  Cut back the dead stuff to the trunk.
3.  Cut on angle about 1/4" above upwards growth.
4.  Trim new shoots to train direction of new growth.
So, I have a couple of weeks here to make a call.  If I see some new growth emerge on these, I'm thinking that I'll leave them in and prune them in an attempt to revive.  If no new growth, I'll dig them out and try to replace them with Menards. 

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