Juvenile growth on junipers…Cut? Leave alone?

Michael Hagedorn

I’ve received several emails about how to handle juvenile foliage on junipers, and felt like this was one of those discussions that could be useful to a larger group of people.

  • Juvenile growth in junipers is when the shoots display needle-like growth on a typically scale growth variety (a few of those are listed below).

juniperfoliage This is Rocky Mountain juniper, a scale juniper, showing the past year’s growth as the spiky, juvenile foliage, with the tips transitioning into mature, scale foliage.

Spiky juvenile growth is a response to either too much foliage loss from pinching (don’t do that), overly hard pruning, or sometimes too much fertilizer. Naturally, since mature scale foliage is nicer to look at, and is what the tree grows when it’s content, we might have the impulse to cut the juvenile off.

  • Don’t do that. Leave the juvenile foliage alone.
  • The problem is, if we cut off the…

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