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

Monday - April 29, 2013

From: Parker, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Rocky Mountain Juniper Grazed by Deer
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have four Colorado red cedar (Juniperus scopulorum). The deer have eaten from their height down. Now these narrow top to bottom evergreens have only tops left. Will the bottom fill in if I protect them from the deer, or am I stuck with top only evergreens?

ANSWER:

As Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky mountain juniper or Colorado red cedar) ages it is naturally a somewhat pyramidal, rounded tree when grown in an open space. It is a long-lived evergreen that could reach 30 feet in height. So seeing them with their bottom trunk bare can be quite a sight. Unfortunately though, junipers do not tend to sprout new foliage from dormant buds lower on the stem if they are pruned back hard or grazed heavily by deer.  It is worth trying some mild rejuvenation pruning to allow more sunlight to reach the lower trunk area to see if new growth will appear.  Try to lightly shear the upper growth to follow the natural pyramidal shape and then wait and see what happens. The early spring is the best time of year to do this. It is best to try this in small increments over several years so you can judge how the junipers are reacting to each pruning.

Here is a previous Mr. Smarty Plants response about an over-trimmed juniper question.  So caution is advised. Only lightly shear to reduce the width of the upper part of the juniper. By building a fence around the lower browsed section of the trees and lightly shearing the upper part to let in more sunlight to the bare section below, perhaps some new growth will start to fill in the lower area. If this isn’t successful, you still have the option of planting a deer-proof plant at the base of the juniper to hide the bare trunk. A list of deer resistant species can be found on our website.

The USDA Forest Service has the following interesting information on their webpage for Rocky mountain juniper. Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), bitterbrush (Purshia spp.), and Rocky Mountain juniper combined have been reported to make up 66% of winter mule deer browse and Rocky Mountain juniper is considered a major component of wintering mule deer diet in the Bridger Mountains of Montana. Mule deer browse the foliage moderately in winter, spring, and fall, and lightly in the summer. High levels of volatile oils in Rocky Mountain juniper may cause mule deer to select against the foliage in favor of other browse when available. Other animals that use Rocky Mountain juniper berries, foliage, or stems for forage include white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, Rocky Mountain goats, ring-necked pheasant, grouse, and cattle. The website also indicates that the palatability of Rocky mountain juniper in Colorado is poor for elk and mule deer.

 

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 Pruning Questions

Cutting back salvia greggii in Birmingham, AL
February 23, 2010 - When is a good time to cut back salvia gregii and how much can you cut it back. We will probably still have frost. Will it grow in sun and shade?
view the full question and answer

Cutting back woody plants after freeze in Leander TX
December 10, 2009 - I have several woody shrubs in a prominent location. Now that the leaves have frozen, how far back should I cut them? These are Flame Acanthus, Salvia ballotiflora, and Aloysia macrostachya, but I w...
view the full question and answer

Eastern redcedar uprooted by snow in Arlington, TX
February 14, 2010 - During the recent snowstorm one of our juniperus virginiana fell over with the rootball looking intact and with a lot of soil all around it.Should we try to save it? It is approximately 20 feet tall ...
view the full question and answer

Tidying up Copper Canyon Daisies in San Antonio
March 30, 2010 - We have a small bed with 4 copper canyon daisies. We cut them back in the fall but have not pruned them during growing season; as a result they become a big tangle by September. Should they be pruned ...
view the full question and answer

How to deal with suckers on Flame-leaf Sumac
May 20, 2013 - Hi! It seems you can have too much of a good thing! Our flameleaf sumac is taking over our yard. There are multiple shoots appearing in our flower beds and in the lawn. How do I get rid of the unwante...
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