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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.

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

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Tuesday - November 08, 2011

From: Georgetown, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Are brown junipers (Juniperus ashei) dead?
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

If the cedar/junipers in our area are brown, will they ever come back green? Or just clear them out as dead. There are many of them due to the drought. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Unfortunately, your Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper) are most likely dead.   Deciduous trees can react to stress by losing their leaves earlier than usual and then re-leaf in the spring or even before spring if the situation causing the stress is alleviated.  For instance, this summer during the scorching temperatures and no rain the Juglans nigra (Black walnut) in my yard and the Carya illinoinensis (Pecan) in my neighbor's yard both had most of their leaves turn yellow and fall, but after the 2-inch rain in September they produced new green leaves.  Brown evergreens, however, are probably dead evergreens.  However, you can test them by bending the smaller branches.  If the branches are flexible and full of sap, they’re still alive.  If they’re brittle and dry, they’re dead and won’t come back.  Some of the “brown” junipers that are still alive will put out new growth in the spring, but it will be from the tips of branches.  If the browned junipers do survive, they’re likely to be unattractive for quite some time.  That might be reason enough to remove them. 
 

 

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