Junipers Turning Brown

Kris_KApril 28, 2014

Hi! First of all, I know nothing about gardening and hope that someone can help me save my junipers. We've had them (4 bushes) for over 5 years, never had a problem with them and as of last summer/early fall they looked fine. At some point over the winter they started to turn brown. I thought it was just the tips so I cut them back but they are brown throughout the inside of the bushes as well. All four bushes are equally affected.

I've done the white paper test and see no mites or webs. The branches do not appear to have cankers. I don't see any other evidence of fungi or pests but I'm no expert. Like much of the country we had a bad winter. Temperatures weren't too much colder than normal but we did not have the warm snaps that we're used to and we had a lot more snow on the ground. We're used to snow melting off quickly but not this winter. I'm wondering if it's some kind of rot? Our soil tends to be clay-like, rocky and these are in a bed with landscape fabric & garden rock. In the past, it has not been a problem but maybe not good for this winter? Any thoughts?

I'm trying to upload two pictures - fingers crossed that it works.

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Second picture...

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:08AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

severe winter... cold dry winds dedicated the tissue ... and if you had hot spells.. that triggered active spring growth..and then a FREEZE .. or deep frost.. that could do it ...

i am waiting to see how mine respond.. whether they green up ... or will need to be pruned ..

interior browning is normal ... not an issue ...

be nice to know where you are ...

interesting thought on the bug test ... i dont know if you would find them .. this early in the season ... i think of them as hot season problems.. when the population has spiked ... anyone else know the answer to that????


    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:22AM
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There is a well-known tip blight of junipers which can present like that. Then of course, junipers/yews/etc. look like heck all over the place this spring. FWIW, I'm not yet convinced this is due to minimum temps so much as some as yet unexplained combo of that along with other factors setting the stage. It is odd to see much the same occurring over such a wide geographical area. Usually, if something is happening somewhere, something different is happening somewhere else, to put it in scientific terms!

Look up Phomopsis tip blight in junipers. Not saying that's what you've got, just trying to open up the discussion a bit.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 2:04PM
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Thanks everyone.
Ken... I'm in SW Missouri, right on the line b/t zones 5&6.

Wisconsitom... Not many junipers in my neighborhood but did see a couple of them & some cedars that looked similar to mine (but not as bad.) Can't figure out if it's tip blight. I look at pictures of it but can't tell if that's what is wrong.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:15AM
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Finally, theree's one more way that junipers can end up looking like that; During winter, meadow voles, AKA "field mice", can get hungry enough to gnaw the bark of off of individual stems, girdling those stems in the process. This leads to interrupted sap flow beyond the girdled area and eventual drying/death. You can see this by visual inspection-the gnawing exposes whitish wood instead of the normal bark.

For Phomopsis blight (and another pathogen which presents similarly-Kabatina), I suggest Cornell U's web pages. They cover it very well. Let us know what you find. Environmentally-caused dieback, as Ken mentioned, is certainly extremely prevalent this spring.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:40AM
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