Junipers are a diverse group of evergreens that include spreading, pyramidal, creeping and upright forms. Of the upright junipers, common varieties include Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis) and Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), which grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5b to 11 and 2 to 9, respectively. Upright junipers are commonly used as screens, windbreakers and hedges. Juniper plants respond well to pruning and can be sustained for years when pruned correctly and regularly.
1 Prune in early spring to allow for quick, healthy regrowth of juniper branches. Pruning at this time allows the plant to retain a natural appearance, and is necessary for the removal of broken or injured winter branches.
2 Cut away dead branches at the "Y" of a branch junction with garden shears. This method, called selective thinning, creates a more open, natural-looking plant. Position clean garden shears carefully on the dead branch and cut so that only a single stem remaining. Wear gloves when handling garden shears.
3 Remove all dead, broken, diseased, weak and interior shaded branches. Interior shaded branches are branches that become shaded as the tree grows and, without sufficient sunlight, eventually die
4 Cut away one of two rubbing branches that interfere or cross over each other to avoid future problems. Rubbing branches can result in blocked air circulation and decreased sunlight, which can lead to the spread of harmful disease and branch death.
Items you will need
- Garden shears
- Always disinfect pruning tools before use to reduce the chance of disease transmission between plants. A simple household disinfectant may be used. In addition, wash your hands with soap and water before and after pruning.
- Do not drastically prune upright junipers. Junipers do not produce buds on old wood and therefore cannot handle severe pruning.
- Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories: Pruning Junipers
- The Nurturing Leaves: Upright Junipers
- University of Rhode Island Land Horticulture Program: A Guide to Successful Pruning
- US Forest Service: Juniperus chinensis
- US Forest Service: Juniperus virginiana
- University of Florida: Disinfecting Pruning Tools
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images