Elisabeth C. Miller Library

Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

Knowledgebase record #649

PAL Question

I have a young 5-foot tall Hollywood juniper. How do I prune it to shape and train it so it looks good?


Because of the natural beauty of its form, Hollywood juniper, or Juniperus chinensis 'Torulosa', is not a good candidate for pruning, and I would recommend only pruning branches which are interfering in some way, such as intruding into a walkway. Below are links to information on pruning junipers:
University of Georgia Extension
"Junipers do not tolerate heavy pruning because of the lack of new growth on old wood. This makes it important to know the growth habit of a particular juniper prior to planting so that future pruning can be minimized. Junipers can be tip pruned and thinned, but not cut back to large limbs. Pruning out old. dead foliage underneath creeping junipers will often contribute to better air circulation and thus better health of the plant."
University of Florida Extension
Excerpt: "Torulosa Juniper develops into a showcase specimen without pruning and is probably best used for this purpose."

In her Guide to Pruning (Sasquatch Books, 2006), local pruning expert Cass Turnbull advises strongly against shearing and cutting into old wood, because you will be looking at woody stubs for a long time, if not forever. You can remove lower limbs which may be blocking sidewalks, but in general, avoid pruning. "Junipers, like most conifers, are difficult to prune. This is because the barren portions of the branches can't produce new greenery (break bud) once the exterior green has been removed (headed back). Never expose those ugly, barren internal branches . . . What little can be done to help an overgrown planting involves removal of the lowest limbs, and/or selective heading (grab and snip) or thinning off the worst, most interfering branches. Always hide the cut beneath some natural-looking greenery."

Your young plant should shape and train itself without the intervention of pruning.

Keywords: Juniperus, Pruning
Date: 2008-06-14

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