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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

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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Wednesday - May 25, 2011

From: Sturgis, SD
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Problems with spreading juniper in Sturgis, SD
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Sturgis, South Dakota and I have two different varieties of Spreading Juniper in the yard as ground cover. They have developed an orange colored fungus that goes dormant in the winter but as soon as our rainy season starts, it comes back. It seems to kill some of the plants and others seem to resist it. Is there anything that can be sprayed to kill the fungus that won't kill the plants?

ANSWER:

We found no native junipers with the common name "spreading juniper" but found these, all native to South Dakota, with similar common names:

Juniperus communis (Common juniper)

Juniperus communis var. depressa (Common juniper)  Pictures

Juniperus horizontalis (Creeping juniper) - only this one is shown in a USDA Plant Profile Map as being native to Meade County, so we will use that one as an example, as they are all low-growing members of the Juniperus genus, growing under similar conditions. Pictures of J. horizontalis

On our webpage for Juniperus horizontalis (Creeping juniper)  (read by following plant link) these Growing Conditions are cited:

"Conditions Comments: Creeping juniper withstands hot, dry situations but is very intolerant of shade and poor drainage. It is slow-growing, long-lived, and susceptible to juniper blight."

So, if your junipers are not getting enough sun and/or are in poorly-drained clay soils, that is our first clue to the problem. A discussion of Juniper Blight is found in this University of Illinois Extension article Phomopsis Blight.

Don't feel alone in this situation. Mr. Smarty Plants and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center have been deluged with juniper questions, tall and short, several species and over different parts of the country recently. We are going to link you to a previous answer that pretty much sums up what we know about juniper problems and has several other links you can study. Previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on juniper problems.

We also recommend you contact the South Dakota State Univerisity Cooperative Exension Service for Meade County for some closer to home suggestions.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common juniper
Juniperus communis

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