Juniper leaves are evergreen needles.

How to Prune a Skyrocket Juniper Properly

by Sarah Mason

Skyrocket juniper (Juniperus scopulorum "Skyrocket") is a low-maintenance, evergreen conifer that is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 9. Skyrocket juniper is a popular addition to yards and home gardens because it attracts birds, is deer resistant and works well as a privacy screen or windbreak. While skyrocket juniper requires little to no pruning, some trimming may be done to create a tight, formal look and to control growth.

Prune young skyrocket junipers lightly in late winter or early spring in the second year after they are planted. Narrow-leaved evergreens, such as skyrocket juniper, cannot tolerate severe pruning. By pruning a little each year, you can keep these plants healthy without causing harm.

Select the individual stem you wish to sever, carefully place clean garden pruner at the branch's base and cut firmly. This thinning allows for better light penetration and growth. Always cut upward-growing side branches in a way that maintains skyrocket juniper's natural shape. Do not thin out more than a quarter of new growth, as skyrocket juniper does not tolerate severe pruning.

Trim side branches lightly with garden pruners to reduce size and correct shape. Prune in the spring when plants are actively growing. Identify individual, overgrown branches to cut back; do not shear in a formal manner. Place garden pruners at the desired width and snip firmly, making sure to leave some new growth on the limb to avoid cutting into the "dead zone," which is the bare, leafless area near the trunk. This area will not regrow once severed.

Prune up to 20 percent of skyrocket juniper height with your garden pruner or, if the trunk is over 1-1/2 inches in diameter, with a pruning saw. Make sure all cuts are made above the dead zone.

Cut off any frost-damaged or diseased branches with your garden pruner, removing as much as necessary to clear any damage. Diseased branches should be removed as soon as they appear, regardless of the time of year, to prevent harm to the rest of the plant. To make a cut, carefully place your garden pruner at the junction of healthy stem and diseased one, and snip forcefully.

Items you will need

  • Garden pruner
  • Pruning saw
  • Gloves


  • Do not severely prune skyrocket juniper; it lacks dormant buds and will not regenerate.
  • Always wear protective gloves when handling garden pruners.

About the Author

Based in Fort Worth, Sarah Mason has been writing articles since 2009 on topics including nutrition, fitness, women's health and gardening. Her work has appeared in "Flourish" and "Her Campus." Mason holds a Bachelors of Arts in economics from the University of Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images