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?


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

Thursday - May 19, 2011

From: Dallas, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Problems with Juniperus scopulorum in Dallas
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Dallas, Texas - Juniperus Scopolorum "Skyrocket" Last June I planted six, five foot tall along my chain length fence by the alley. Full sun. One died within 6 months. The soil seems to stay damp 6" deep or deeper. Branches, one by one, on the remaining 5 slowly are loosing color turning to yellowish brown (dead color). The remaining 5 have actually grown taller, but look thin and lighter in color than when planted. Is it too late for these? Suggestions? If I replace them, plant them where the ball is mostly above soil line? Many thanks, Charles


Somewhat to our surprise, Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky mountain juniper) is native to parts of Texas, which we didn't expect in view of the common name of Rocky Mountain juniper. However, as you will see from this USDA Plant Profile map, it isn't native very close to Dallas, but rather a few counties in the Panhandle and far West Texas. However, a number of other members of the Juniperus genus are native to most of Texas. Such factors as climate, soils and elevation can affect whether or not a tree not native to an area can actually flourish out of its own habitat. Since your junipers have not been in the ground for even a year, and also because they were planted in June, when it is very hot in Dallas, we are wondering if the trees might be suffering from transplant shock. We always recommend that trees be planted in late Winter in this part of the world, when the trees are semi-dormant and less prone to shock.

Further information on this tree from our webpage on it (which we recommend you follow the above link and read):

"Soil Description: Dry, rocky or sandy soils. Rocky Caliche type Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay.
Conditions Comments: Rocky Mountain juniper is slow-growing. It tolerates drought and salt spray but does not adapt to high humidity or high night temperatures. It is susceptible to juniper blight and serves as an alternate host for cedar apple rust."

Another consideration is that the Genus Juniperus is sometimes difficult to transplant because of taproots that are easily damaged. However, we found one reference to this particular juniper as being "easy to transplant." This article from Range Plants of Utah Rocky Mountain Juniper has more information, including that it thrives at 5000 to 9,000 ft. elevation; apparently Dallas is at 450 to 550 ft. in elevation.

Because we are getting so many juniper questions this year, and several are in the queue waiting for answers, we are going to refer you to a very detailed previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer that not only covers several issues, but has a reaction from a representative of the Texas Forestry Service on an emerging problem of Juniper mites.

Finally, we recommend you contact the AgriLIFE Extension Office for Dallas County, "Horticulture." They should know what's going on with junipers in your area.


From the Image Gallery

Rocky mountain juniper
Juniperus scopulorum

Rocky mountain juniper
Juniperus scopulorum

Rocky mountain juniper
Juniperus scopulorum

Rocky mountain juniper
Juniperus scopulorum

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Repairing the split trunk of a TX mountain laurel
February 28, 2015 - I have a fairly large mountain laurel that I just realized has a split down the trunk. Is there anything I can do to save it?
view the full question and answer

Improving blooming on mock orange
March 03, 2008 - I have a now 6 yr. old mock orange shrub in the garden which has never bloomed, darn it. I have fed, not fed, mulched, not mulched, sheared, not sheared. What gives? Will it ever bloom, or shall I ...
view the full question and answer

Desert Willow and Orchid tree with no upper leaves from Kerrville TX
May 30, 2013 - I have two 5 year old Desert Willows planted in my yard. This year only one has leaved out and blooming. The other is bare but the branches are not dead and it has new growth at the bottom. Do you kno...
view the full question and answer

Need to find a place to buy Western Soapberry in Paris, TX.
May 05, 2012 - Where is the closest place to purchase a Western Soapberry tree?
view the full question and answer

Something eating Arizona ash in Gilbert AZ
May 11, 2011 - Something is eating my Arizona ash tree. what should I spray on it?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center