Leggy San Jose Juniper


(Christian Hansen) #1

San Jose Juniper. Originally made its way to Utah from Boon. Passed through a couple club members and ended up with me. Hit hard by spider mites before with previous owners, and was largely past that when I got it, but still not strong.

At this point, it’s too leggy and I need to chase foliage back. I’ve cut back before, but I’m not sure if I’m being aggressive enough, or if I’m being too timid to get the results I need. Based on the example branch below, where should I cut?


(Jonas Dupuich) #2

Cool tree. If it’s growing healthy and the roots are strong, I’d cut back pretty hard, but not beyond where there’s anything green.

Ideally, you could cut back beyond the intended silhouette so the tree could grow out to fill in the final silhouette. If that’s too much to cut for now, this can be done in stages.

Based on the branch you show, about half of the foliage can safely be removed from a healthy tree.

In general, it looks like the current silhouette is quite a bit larger than what you want to end up with - is this the case?


(Christian Hansen) #3

Jonas -

Thanks for the response. Yes, I definitely need to chase it back a good couple inches all around. I repotted in the spring to the current pot, but it’s slightly larger than the previous pot, only a little shallower. So minimal roots were cut, mostly just a clean up/refresh of soil.

On the branch in the picture (and most on the tree are in a similar state), I’ve hesitated to cut back too far since the interior growth doesn’t have a lot of strong tip growth. I know that my removing the outer growth, auxin should be set free and interior shoots activated, but I didn’t want to leave a branch with only weaker growth to rely on. I know it’s a judgement call, on a per branch basis. But the tree has great structure and I didn’t want to weaken and lose more branches since the tree was finally back to growing well. Having said that, my timid approach has also likely contributed to the leggy branches.


(Jonas Dupuich) #4

Thanks for the details. I agree that you’ll want to preserve the interior and that leaving it long won’t help much.

At some point you’ll want to make bigger cuts. One option is to cut back some of the new growth in the stronger areas now and then do the major cutback in fall.

If, however, you’re at all concerned the tree isn’t strong enough for this, let it grow for now and to the cutback in fall. The main thing is to keep the tree healthy and strong as this will keep your options open.


(Christian Hansen) #5

Sorry, I probably misrepresented where the tree is now. It’s plenty healthy now. The mites, etc. are a thing of the past. There are tons of strong growing tips on the tree now, so it’s a good time to do the work, and I’ll follow your suggestions on how hard to cut.