Severely Neglected Juniper (Diagnosis)

This tree was honestly in the worst visual state I had ever seen. Picked it up from a nursery going out of business (go-figure) because I thought it had an interesting line and would be a fun project.

Here’s where we’re at now; not much can surprise me at this point.

General discoloration

Note the black tips

And this looks like scale

Any ideas on the issue here? Severity or the prognosis? Wouldn’t be surprised if it had more than one ailment…

Thanks for the help! This has been weighing on me haha.

Here an update after a little TLC if anyone wants to talk design–

Yeah I’d be proactively spraying this with pesticides/fungicides and focusing on getting the balance of H2O/O2 correct, you are probably correct in assuming there are a few things going on.

as for design, if that is your selected front, losing the branch/apex on the left would allow you to have a killer tree with a tension design, Apex and defining branch heading right, trunk obviously moving left.maybe a change in angle of between 10-20deg. Maybe that first branch heading right becomes the defining branch instead of the one I’ve outlined higher up? depends on the foliage I guess.

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Excellent design idea! I really love that and will probably execute if possible. All of the foliage is oriented towards the other side, but that obscures the trunkline in photos. I should be able to bring it around, however.

Regarding health and fungicide/pesticides, do you have any (ideally Mirai-approved) recommendations as to what solutuions/products you would spray this with to help the issues? I am a bit overwhelmed with the extent of the issues and hesitant to start spraying away… But I guess I asked for this getting the tree. Anyways, thanks so much!

Hi Michael, have you checked closely what you thought was scale, ie, is it scale? It looks like cedar apple rust and it’s quite hard to treat. I had to cut a major branch from one of my junipers to get rid of it and spend the rest of the year closely watching in case it had spread.

Appreciate you chiming in Keith, cedar apple rust may very well be a factor in play here.

In the scale identification video, Ryan mentions the “definitive termination of the terminal tip” specifically as a unique identifier of scale, which this juniper almost certainly has (black/grey tips).

You’ve got me (rightfully) concerned about cedar apple rust, and I’ve looked at hundreds of pictures to try and confirm/deny. Do you have any pictures from your case? I’m having trouble identifying for certain. I am planning on using Imidacloprid (Bayer) or dinotefuran (Safari) for the scale – are there any fungicides you found particularly useful in your experience? Thanks again for mentioning, I appreciate it!

The systemic insecticide is a good idea . I use daconil as a spray in the winter . If it can’t be repotted I would still work some pumice and lava into the soil to increase drainage till spring

I try to stay away from heavy chemical use. I use dormant oil spray in the winter (make sure it’s a kind that is okay to use on junipers) and insecticidal soap once it warms up to take care of scale. I don’t have that many junipers so I have time to remove them with tweezers.

BTW, I’ve gotten to the point where I am more picky about what I add to my collection. The time I spend agonizing over an unhealthy tree is time lost working on my nicer trees. I’ve had to cure my impulses to “rescue” trees; I hate to see nice trees go to waste but I’ve learned (through bad experiences) to stay away from diseased nursery stock. Also, you don’t want to bring a tree home that will infect your other trees.

Be careful of taking what is offered to you as well. I took a juniper someone didn’t want any more, and it was covered in scale. It’s doing much better now, but I’ve had to keep it isolated from the other junipers, which is annoying.

Good luck with your juniper, and as someone else suggested, watch some of Ryan’s videos - he has a lot of recommendations for what types of chemicals to use.

If I didn’t mind chemicals, I’d be growing roses but I do, so I don’t :rofl:


In fact I just ran across this video in the Mirai library: “Scale Insect Identification and Treatment”.

Hi Michael, I think it’s scale on the foliage but the lighter brown areas on the branch look like cedar apple rust. Here’s a picture of the branch I cut off.

Hopefully yours isn’t this but worth checking for.


This is a very underrated comment and speaks to the underlying problem here, which is a severely underdeveloped root system that makes the tree susceptible to pests/disease and leaves a lot of extra water in the container.

Taking your suggestion, I’m planning on just taking handfuls of bark/soil and replacing with pumice/lava until I hit root, and then stop? I’ve also inserted a board under one side of the container opposite a drainage hole to improve drainage in the pot, I’ve heard that alone can help massively.

I’ve got to dial in the balance of H20 and O2, alas :confused:

Thanks so much Keith for sharing that. It does look frighteningly similar, take a look:

Damn. I’m gonna be kind of sad if this tree is done for. Good lessons learned, I suppose.

It does look very similar in the photo. Why don’t you put it on the forum Q & A for Ryan to look at and ask his advice. I would quarantine it for now though.