Blue Rug Juniper Care Infographic

The Blue Rug Juniper is evergreen and low-lying shrub that grows in a range of environmental conditions. Also known as the Juniperus Horizontalis, this plant grows easily creating a ground cover around it with its foliage, and is also known to be drought resistant.

If you are keen on growing this plant, then read this one-stop guide to understand the care nuances, propagation techniques, and solutions to tackle the most common problems you may face while growing the plant.

What Is Blue Rug Juniper?

Blue Rug Juniper is a fast-growing evergreen low-lying shrub that can spread on flat ground creating a cover of six to twelve inches per year. On the other hand, the plant grows horizontally and is known to be a creeping plant that grows like a carpet.

Blue Rug Juniper Care

Similar to the ‘blue star’ juniper variant this plant too is hardy and grows well in subtropical climatic conditions . All that it requires is moderate levels of water and fertilizers along with well-draining soil and low to moderate temperatures.

The plant is robust and manages to thrive even if you are not able to put much time into its care which makes it a much sought-after option for plant lovers who are beginners or who just don’t have much time at hand.

In this below section, we cover each of the care aspects that will ensure the plant thrives, blooms and sustains its evergreen foliage through the year, so wait no longer and just read on.

– Water Requirements

One of the critical characteristics of this plant is that it is moderately drought resistant and can tolerate long spells of not watering. The junipers require water at least twice a week during the first two months.

However, this does not mean you let the soil go bone dry. Juniperus Horizontalis ‘wiltonii’ thrives well, producing lush green foliage that spreads like a carpet on flat ground only when the soil is kept slightly moist. 

On the other hand, how you must keep the watering in mind is that it needs to be consistent in its level of water thus maintaining a proper watering schedule with a frequency of once or twice a week and scaling back to earlier in fifteen days in colder winter months.

At the same time never overwater the plant such that the soil stays soggy or the roots stay in puddles of water for long. This is equally disastrous to the health of the plant and puts it at the risk of developing either root or fungal diseases which may eventually kill the plant. Both conditions of over saturation as well as undersaturation stress out the plant and can be hazardous to its overall health.

The best way, however, to know if your plant requires more water or not is to do a simple finger test where you need to stick your finger into the soil by an inch and feel for moisture. Do not add in more if the finger comes out feeling wet. Also, scale back if the environment around the plant is humid as the plant is sensitive to extreme moisture levels.

– Light Requirements

The blue rug juniper loves bright and direct sunlight to display its lush and evergreen foliage. You will thus have to provide it with full sunlight for at least six to eight hours every day for it to sustain its health and growth.

Avoid placing it in closed or semi-closed spaces such as patios or balconies as the shade prevents the plant from bringing out its true and vibrant green shade. The plant requires ample sunlight and often does well on cascading slopes, downhills, or terraces.

The exposure to light needs to be direct otherwise the plant may be in a stress condition. Low light conditions can make the leaves shed before time and the foliage look sparse. This means you must not hesitate to place it under bright light giving it an environment that is closest to its native. Moreover, the leaves and stems may end up looking weak and limp in inadequate light and also turn brittle and dark in color.

Remember, the plant seldom does well indoors but if you still have to grow them do so under artificial grow light so that adequate and ample light is received to sustain growth.

– Soil Requirements

The plant does well in a range of soil conditions and is tolerant to both sandy as well as rocky variants. However, the most essential requirement is that it should be well-draining. 

The juniper is sensitive to excessive moisture; thus heavy soils such as loamy retain far more moisture and is therefore not recommended. The soil needs to be slightly acidic between a pH range of 5.0 to 8.0.

The plant is otherwise quite adaptable and with just a few basic additions any potting soil can be made to suit the requirement. Include orchid bark, wood shavings, or perlite to your potting mix to improve drainage and aeration. 

In addition, include some organic compost such as vermicomposting to increase the nutrient value. If you are growing the plant in a pot or container, ensure it has proper drainage holes so that excess water flows freely out of the pot.

– Temperature Requirements

The ideal temperature however is between 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature sustains growth and enables the production of fresh foliage.

Bushes of Blue Rug Juniper

As the plant is subtropical, it can withstand considerably low temperatures of up to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides, the plant is hardy enough to tolerate temperature fluctuations, for example, any wide volatility that may occur between day and night, including chilly winds, frost, and snow.

On the contrary, it will seldom tolerate hot temperatures and the foliage turns limp and dries out because too much sun or heavy heat will weaken the growth of the carpet-style plant.

– Humidity Requirements

The plant does not require humidity around it and fares well when the air around it is dry. The only moisture that it requires would be the consistent moist kept soil. This shows that you must make sure drought is provided and watch the plant grow healthily and thrive in a range of environmental conditions.

– Fertilizing Requirements

The plant requires little or low levels of fertilizer use. You do not necessarily have to fertilize the plant, however, a light liquid formula added twice a year could give a considerable boost to growth. 

In addition, keep in mind that you may also place some slow-release pellets in the soil twice a year. This should adequately take care of its nutrition needs. Remember, do not over-fertilize the plant as this will lead to salt build-up at the roots, and even a burn.

– Pruning

This juniper has slow growth and as a low-lying shrub, it reaches six inches in height and eight feet in width. Thus the foliage seldom turns unruly and wild and so you would not have to require much pruning, as the foliage seldom grows unruly and wild.

However, pruning does help to keep the plant pest and diseases free as well as promotes the growth of foliage. Regularly trim branches and watch out for pest, bacterial or fungal infections. Snip away sections with a sterile garden pruner as soon as you spot any. 

Remove all decayed, dead, and diseased because doing so the leaves will aid in better foliage growth, as they will be getting rid of a burden of dead twigs that will hinder the growth because remember that this plant pushes itself horizontally to grow wider. It won’t have the endurance or healthy growth if the dead parts of the plant aren’t pruned out.

Propagation

Propagating this juniper is hassle-free and easy and all that you would require is basic gardening tools such as sterile garden pruners, potting mix, and a pot. The plant is a slow grower thus, growing with seeds is not a recommended practice moreover propagation from seeds results in a plant different from the parent as this juniper is a cultivar.

In this below section we discuss the complete propagation process in a step-by-step manner so that you can achieve complete success in creating your nascent juniper plant, so read on.

– Propagation Method Using Stem Cuttings

Stem cuttings obtained from a healthy mature plant from the previous fall are the perfect way to create your plant. Remember to first and foremost take a healthy stem section. Snip a section of about four inches with the help of a sharp garden pruner and remove all needles from the bottom portion.

Dip the cut end into rooting hormone powder to give it an initial boost to growth. Place this in a potting mix in a pot with well-draining holes. nonetheless, you must keep the soil of the new plant slightly moist and place the pot or container in a warm spot. Ensure there are consistent and moderate temperatures around the cut section as well.

As mentioned earlier, the plant is a slow grower, thus rooting of the stem section too takes time. So have patience. It may take months for the cut section to begin to root and several months for the first few leaves to sprout. Transplant once you notice a substantial number of leaves sprouting from the stem.

The right season to propagate the plant is in the warm months of spring and summer as the warmth of the season will help the roots to establish themselves healthily and properly. You have now successfully propagated your juniper plant.

Always ensure the soil is well-draining and the plant is not overly watered leading to soggy soil. At the same time avoid letting the soil go completely dry as this will prevent the roots from taking in adequate oxygen from the soil leading to a wilting and limp plant.

Close up of Blue Rug Juniper

Problems

This hardy and robust plant is not devoid of problems as it can be under stress when exposed to an inappropriate environment. However, these are just mere challenges in the process of growing and caring for the plant and can be easily tackled with some simple and quick-fix solutions.

In this section below, we list some easy solutions that will help you overcome the most common problems of the plant. From fungal diseases to discoloration of plant foliage you will find answers to all here, so read on.

– Juniper Blight

Juniper blight is a disastrous disease of the plant foliage caused by the fungal pathogen called Phomopsis Juniperovora. It is known to be not only a menace but hazardous to the plant’s health as it affects the new growth of all Juniper shrubs.

The latter prevents the sprouting of fresh leaves and young shoots and stunts the shrubs. Look out for its early symptoms of yellow spots which over time turn reddish brown and then gray.

Once a juniper blight infects a plant the disease will rapidly spread turning the green foliage of the plant to brown and eventually making it die. You will find them generally after late spring when fall weather is slightly wet and cool. 

Tackle Juniper blight by isolating the plant as soon as you spot the infection. Remember to snip away all sections of the diseased foliage and destroy and discard them far away from your garden as the infected sections can produce spores for up to two years.

For more severe infections treat the plant with a copper-based fungicide containing mancozeb or propiconazole, sprayed every seven days to prevent reoccurrence of the infection. Prevent the occurrence of juniper blight by planting your plant at a distance from each other. 

Keep in mind that such gaps aid in better air circulation between the otherwise low-lying shrubs that spread out close to each other. Always sterilize all garden tools and equipment with a diluted solution of isopropyl alcohol to prevent the risk and spread of bacterial and fungal diseases.

– Turning Brown

The main reasons your junipers are turning brown are cankers or overfertilizing the plant. Avoid keeping the plant overly moist which is the main reason for the occurrence of fungal diseases. 

It is key to know that you must stay away from adding in too much fertilizer as this results in a salt build-up in the roots thus causing junipers to turn brown. The plant seldom needs to be fertilized, when it is over-fertilized, it won’t just start turning brown; moreover, the plant will even foresee a burn which is caused by the minerals of the fertilizer, and this will be very hard to recover.

– Canker Disease Of The Juniper

Canker Disease on the juniper is visible in the form of sunken and noticeable lesions generally on the woody bark of the plant. These cankers can be quite notorious to the health of the plant as they prevent the movement of water and nutrients through the plant. 

On the other hand, this ultimately can lead to dieback of the stems and later result in the death of the juniper plant. It is caused by the fungus Botryosphaeria stevensii and is reportedly prevalent in most juniper varieties. 

Additionally, you will also spot the plant developing elongated and flattened lesions, otherwise called cankers, along the inner sections of the plant foliage. Often cankers are difficult to notice at first sight and you may have to scrape through the foliage as they may be well hidden in the inner sections. 

Canker Disease Of The Juniper

Treat cankers as soon as you spot them to prevent their rapid spread across the juniper shrubs that grow along flat ground. Isolate the plant if possible and with the help of sterilized garden pruners snip away all sections where you notice the lesions present.

Discard and destroy them away from your flower bed or garden to prevent contamination of soil of nearby plants. There is no chemical treatment to restrain the spread of this disease thus the only way or rather the most ideal way is to prevent its occurrence. 

Remember that you must always use sterile tools and equipment along with good quality soil and healthy parent plants while propagating. Take proper care of the plant with a regular and appropriate watering schedule and regular pruning to catch infections in their nascent stage.

– Root and Crown Rot

Root and Crown Rot is a classic condition that occurs when the soil has been allowed to be overly soggy or the roots have been let sit in water for a long time. Remember this plant is resistant to drought and it is very sensitive to excessive moisture in the soil. 

On the other hand, when there is too much water at the roots, it prevents oxygen from being taken in and transported to the rest of the plant, hence, you find the foliage looking weak, limp, and over time death of the plant. Look out for sparse leaves on stems or early dropping of leaves.

As soon as you suspect root rot, scale back on the watering and let the soil dry out completely. The fungus Phytophthora cryptogea is active in the soil when the soil remains soaking wet. Spray a fungicide with etridiazole or mefenoxam. The best way to tackle root and crown rot is to prevent their occurrence.

Always water the plant only when the topsoil has completely dried out and do the finger test before adding in more water. Also, ensure the plant is placed in a well-ventilated space with adequate air circulation around it, especially if you are in a humid zone. This will considerably reduce the occurrence of fungal diseases at the roots.

– Cercospora Twig Blight

Cercospora Twig Blight is yet another fungal disease that attacks Juniper variants commonly. The noticeable and characteristic symptoms of this disease are browning needles, especially on the lower sections of the plant. 

To elaborate further, the diseases can spread rapidly infecting interior sections of the plant, which is seldom noticed, and once the fungal spores occur they are easily transmitted through the wind and rain. This type of disease is the result of the fungus Cercospora sequoiae juniperi and if not curtailed it can damage the plant in its entirety.

Tackle the disease by snipping away all sections at the earliest and destroying them away from your garden. Also, cut back other plant sections that may be hovering over your juniper to prevent any risk of transfer of the fungal spores to nearby plants.

Spray a fungicide easily available at more stores containing mancozeb, thiophanate-methyl and copper salts. Spray once in seven days for a couple of weeks to prevent the recurrence of the disease.

The initial spread of the infection generally can occur between June and July when the weather is warm yet wet. Prevent Cercospora blight by ensuring that there is no excess moisture around the plant but keeping tHe soil just slightly moist.

Ensure the plant is placed in a spot with adequate ventilation and avoid overcrowding of the plant in a single spot and retain some space between. Do not mist the juniper plant as the plant is sensitive to excess moisture.

– Branch and Stem Rot

Do you find the branch or stems of your juniper turning brown at the tips? Watch out as your plant may be infected by the fungal pathogen Rhizoctonia solani. This commonly occurs when the climate outside is warm and humid, a condition the plant detests. This juniper variant is a sub-tropical plant and dry and cooler temperatures are preferred by the plant. 

In other conditions, the plant is under stress thus leading to the risk of fungal diseases. Further, if you have also over-watered the plant in such a scenario, the chances of the development of fungal diseases are very high.

As soon as you suspect diseases scale back on the water and permit the soil to dry out completely. Don’t worry, the plant is drought resistant and a dry spell for a certain period will help it regain health.

Soggy soil is a perfect breeding ground for fungal diseases to spread around. Transplant the plant if possible into well-draining fresh soil and care for it as per the details mentioned in our care section.

Snip, discard and destroy all infected sections to curtail the infection. Additionally, spray a copper-based fungicide once every seven days and repeat until the plant is clear of the infection.

– Die Back of Stems Due to Kabatina Twig Blight

Another type of fungal pathogen is Kabatina Twig Blight which can be disastrous to the health of the plant. The symptoms of this commonly occurring fungal disease is the dieback of nascent branches especially those which are a year old.

Typically, this disease occurs in early spring when there is moisture in the air. With extended wet days, the plant is susceptible to fungal growth and thus damages the tender juniper stems.

You will notice the foliage turning light green, brown, or gray and as the diseases spread in the central stems they result in dead tissues. Thus, the outcome is the dying back of the stems which fail to cope with the infection.

The disease spreads so rapidly that in a matter of weeks the entire plant foliage can be infected. Thus treat the plant and tackle the situation before the entire situation gets out of hand and you are forced to cut down and discard the entire plant. 

Treat the plant with the same copper-based fungicide mentioned in the earlier sections as soon as you spot the early signs of discoloration. Scale back on the watering routine as soon as the climate changes with moisture in the air thereby reducing the risk of disease occurrence.

Conclusion

You have now read this one-stop detailed guide on growing care and propagating the Blue Rug Juniper.

Let us summarize our learning in the below section to help you recapitulate them all.

  • The Rug Juniper is an evergreen low-lying shrub that can spread on flat ground covering spaces. It is easy to care for plants and is thus a favorite among many plant owners around the world due to its robust and hardy nature. 
  • The plant prefers sub-tropical temperatures with well-draining and porous soil and moderately low temperatures, along with bright light and low humidity. The plant loves to thrive in downslopes or cascading hills. 
  • It is a light feeder but it requires a well-balanced formula twice a year to sustain its evergreen foliage. Alternatively, slow-release pellets also work to keep the soil nourished. Never over-fertilize the plant as this will result in a salt build-up in the soil.
  • Propagate the plant using stem cuttings obtained from the previous season. Avoid using seeds as not only is the process slower, but it also results in a plant that may be different from the parent plant. 
  • The most common problems of the plant are fungal diseases and overwatering. Easily tackle them all by preventing occurrences, maintaining proper plant hygiene, and monitoring its light exposure and water requirement. The plant is hardy yet overexposure does put it under tremendous stress conditions. 

Now that you have read this ultimate information guide you can easily include this incredible plant in your garden.

You can keep your juniper’s stay evergreen throughout the year by taking care of their ideal requirements, fertilizing them right in spring with a slow-release formula, and keeping them pest and disease free.

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