Garden Q&A: winter challenges upright junipers
Q: I planted some upright junipers in the front of the house in between the windows. They grew well and looked very nice. The problem is that when we have heavy snows, they bend down to the ground and sometimes break off. Is there a different variety of upright juniper or other tall, thin trees that would withstand the weight of the snows without breaking or bending over? I saw some pictures of “Skyrocket” junipers, which I thought seemed to be more compact. Would they be a good choice?
A: There are several upright juniper cultivars that would suit your needs. While none is completely snow-load resistant, selecting an upright variety with narrower, denser growth will provide you with more protection from winter breakage.
That being said, to practically eliminate bending and breaking due to heavy snows, wrap your upright junipers with one or two strands of jute twine each fall. Wrap the twine in a spiral, starting at the base of the tree and working your way up to the terminal point. The twine helps hold the branches together and keeps them from flopping open. Once the danger of snowfall has passed, simply cut the twine off and allow the natural growth to resume.
Juniper varieties that fit the requirements for narrow, dense growth include:
• “Blue Point”: A very stiff and thick selection that is incredibly fast growing. It has a lovely blue color and is noted to withstand high winds and drought. “Blue Point” reaches 10 to 12 feet in height.
• “Robusta Green”: With deep green foliage, this upright juniper is somewhat twisted and contorted. It offers a unique appearance but is slower growing and fairly rigid. It matures at 10 to 15 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide — but it takes a long time to get there.
• “Iowa Juniper”: A great selection with excellent snow-load resistance, this variety is wider at its base than other upright junipers. It grows 10 to 15 feet tall and has a moderate growth rate. It is a little less pencil-like than some of the other selections.
• “Blue Arrow”: Among the tallest and narrowest upright junipers on the market, “Blue Arrow” offers a lovely blue color, extremely fast growth, and is straight as a bean pole. It reaches 12 to 15 feet in height but is only 2 feet wide.
• “Skyrocket”: Probably the easiest upright juniper to find in the nursery trade, this selection also is a good choice. It is very fast growing. It matures at a slightly taller height than “Blue Arrow,” maxing out at 20 feet, and is also a foot or two wider at its base.
One of the most important factors to consider when making your choice is the eventual height combined with the placement of the mature plant. Make sure it isn't going to wind up growing into the eaves of your house or pushing up into the soffit. Topping upright junipers isn't a good idea as it encourages fungal diseases and stresses the plant (not to mention how silly the plant looks with its “head” chopped off!).
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to email@example.com or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pitt upsets No. 8 Notre Dame to snap losing streak
- HOF finalist Bettis ‘behind everything’ in 2005 Super Bowl run
- Washington Road accident in Mt. Lebanon injures five people
- Rooney says Pittsburgh is ‘good place’ for next northern Super Bowl
- UPMC researcher who died of cyanide poisoning committed suicide
- Ambridge fire brought quickly under control
- Nation sick of Obama blunders, Perry tells state Republicans
- Penguins finally break through, defeat Devils at Prudential Center
- Conductor Krzysztof Urbanski shines in Heinz Hall debut
- Dungy, Greene represent more Steelers ties in hall of fame voting
- Prison artists add works to Braddock Carnegie’s art-lending library