Juniper fertilizer

Asked February 14, 2018, 10:34 AM EST

I have three fertilizers listed for Azalea, Camellia, Juniper, etc. Their amounts are: 33-11-11 5-6-7 4-8-8 Being so dramatically different they can’t all be right. Which one is proper in Happy Valley? Earle Culbertson

Clackamas County Oregon

3 Responses

As I mentioned in your previous question about fertilizing your juniper hedge, it's likely that none are needed. The wise way to detrmine which fertilizer, if any, it would be helpful to, first, have a soil test done by a professional lab.

It would be helpful to know why you want to fertilize the hedge. If the hedge is declining, images could help determine why,. Also needed is a history of the hedge such as age, care, how and when it was watered, and general soil conditions, be that soggy or dry.

The 2 main instances in which it is NOT helpful to fertilize a woody hedge are these:
1. A new hedge, to help it grow faster. Unfortunately, adding fertilizer will push weak new growth rather than the desired strong healthy wood which will withstand rain, wind, and snow for many years.
2. An established hedge which seems to be failing, such as turning brown or thinning out. Unfortunately, fertilizing stressed woody plants only weakens them further. The reason for the decline should be determined, then an appropriate remedy, if any, applied. That remedy won't include fertilizer unless the soil is short on one or more elements. Additional bad news is that a declining hedge may be beyond the point of no return.

Finally, it's important to know that fertilizing woody plants often leads to the need for excessive pruning to keep the hedge within bounds.

If you are determined to fertilize in spite of the above, avoid the 33-11-11.
Either of the other 2 could be used according to label directions which specify the amount for woody plants, such as shrubs, trees, or hedges.

I had not kept it properly pruned and it grew too tall, nearly 5 ft., and the weight of the green pulled it over and I was unable to make it stand up. So I cut off about a foot and half on the top and cut back the sides which left just a large bunch of brown sticks. They are now greening up from about a foot above the ground up to the top. It gets watered when I water the grass and has done quite well, actually, too well previously. Now I want it to look beautiful again and I thought (apparently, incorrectly) that fertilizing would help encourage growth of the green. The hedge was planted in 1978.

Thank you for that information as it helps me understand what occurred and your goal. Returning the hedge to an upright position may require several years of detailed attention.

Is it possible to send me some images when you reply to this email? Most helpful would be a section of the hedge, and one or two additional images showing the new growth and brown branches on individual plants.

Unfortunately, brown branches without any green on them are extremely unlikely to sprout. Each all brown branch should be removed at its base.

“Branches that are broken certainly need to be properly pruned. For branches that are simply bent, it may be possible to train them back into position. Branches tied or trained back into position will continue to produce new wood and may return to form. It is essential that ties or straps used for training are left on the tree for no more than two seasons. Training materials that are forgotten and left in place will eventually girdle branches and kill them. Lastly, if a homeowner cannot safely do the work from the ground or a small stepladder, it’s time to contact a professional arborist.” (

Consider contacting several Certified Arborists concerning what sort of action is required, also the cost for the project. You can locate nearby Certified Arborists at where you can search using your zip code.

This site covers numerous situations with hedges, but Figure 3 may be helpful for Individual junipers in your hedge. It’s a technique of wrapping the plant with twine ("the training materials" mentioned above), from the bottom up, to hold the branches in place until they assume the desired position. (

If you have more questions, please ask.