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Mr. Smarty Plants - Problems with Juniperus scopulorum in Dallas

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Thursday - May 19, 2011

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

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