En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - May 16, 2010

From: Shell Beach, CA
Region: California
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Over-trimmed junipers in Shell Beach CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Help! My husband decided to "trim" the juniper bushes that are in front of our house that create a great private front yard. I guess he cut back into the dead wood and now nothing is regrowing. It's an ugly eye sore. Is there help? Or can you suggest maybe a climbing plant that will cover this up?

ANSWER:

We are afraid that is a major OOPS! From this article on Pruning Junipers, from the Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories, we extracted the following information:

"Junipers do not produce buds on old wood and subsequently will not respond to drastic pruning. If specimens become overgrown, replacement rather than severe pruning usually is necessary."

In other words, you should not expect new budding on the old wood that is left. We recommend you read the whole article in order to judge whether the damage is so severe, it's a lost cause. We would not recommend planting a climbing plant to cover the remnants of the tree. In the first place, that would shade out whatever places might still have a chance to bud. In the second place, if the juniper does indeed die, it will then rot out and leave you with a vine that has nowhere to go. We would suggest you give the plant a chance to recover. Don't fertilize it, that is always a knee-jerk reaction to any problem and it just encourages the tree to put on new growth, which it obviously does not have the strength to do right now. The roots need to get some remaining foliage (there is some remaining, we hope?) to start providing food for the plant through photosynthesis in order to recover. If it does begin to grow back, and does so very unevenly, or simply does nothing, then you might as well replace it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Pruning Questions

Dead portions on oak tree in Hutchinson KS
August 22, 2011 - I have an oak tree on the property I just moved into. One tree is healthy, the other has a dead side or almost dead. It did have some new green leaves on the dead branches but not many. What should...
view the full question and answer

Should I top my scraggly magnolia tree? No
January 27, 2010 - Mr.Smarty Plants, I live in Crockett,Tx. My husband and I just bought this house. In the front yard I have a very tall,scraggly magnolia tree due to trees growing up around it. We have cut some of tho...
view the full question and answer

Pruning a mock orange in Charleston WV
March 30, 2009 - How far back and when do I prune a "Mock Orange" in order to get it to bloom?
view the full question and answer

Pruning guidance for Carolina buckthorn from Houston
October 23, 2012 - I have a Carolina Buckthorn in my back patio that I planted in fall 2001. The summer of 2003 the roofers dropped something off the back and broke the top 10-12 inches off. I have tried to train the la...
view the full question and answer

Flowers for days on end in California
March 30, 2012 - What are some plants or flowers that I can grow "all-year" in California?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center