How to Prune a Wichita Blue Juniper

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Wichita Blue Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) is a popular plant for hedges and borders because it holds its shape naturally without much pruning. But occasionally you will need to prune a Wichita Blue Juniper to maintain its size and promote healthy growth. Follow the steps below to keep your juniper plant in shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Bypass loppers
  • Pole pruners (for very tall plants)
  • Gardening gloves

Prune most Wichita Blue Junipers in early spring, before new growth occurs. However, extremely overgrown junipers can be pruned in stages; make the first cuts in early winter, and the second in spring after new growth first appears.

Choose bypass loppers, hand pruners or pole pruners, depending on the length of the branches you intend to cut.

To reduce the juniper’s size, prune the longest branches back to a lateral branch or bud with green growth. When possible, hide the cuts under overlapping branches to maintain the natural shape of the plant.

Cut dead, diseased or weak branches all the way back to the main trunk to thin the interior of juniper. This will allow more light inside the canopy, encourage healthier growth and prevent bare spots. Avoid leaving “holes” in the plant by hiding these cuts under the outer green growth.

Maintain your Wichita Blue Juniper by continuing to prune annually for about three years. Once a shape has been well-established, you can usually reduce pruning to every other year or so.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always wear gardening gloves when pruning junipers to protect hands from the prickly needles and juniper oils, which can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Avoid shearing a juniper unless you want to create a topiary or other formal shape. If you do wish to create a specific shape, start pruning your Wichita Blue Juniper yearly from a young age to keep from shocking the plant.
  • Avoid cutting a Wichita Blue Juniper back to bare wood, as new growth will not usually occur on bare branches. Never aggressively prune more than one-third of the growth on a Wichita Blue Juniper. Doing so can damage or kill the plant since junipers, like many conifers, do not produce new foliage from old growth. If a juniper has become severely overgrown, it might be best to remove and replace the plant.

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