Junipers vs. Cedars: Their Differences and Success in Texas Landscapes
Good day, Warriors! It has been yet another week of immense heat, with no rain and now 20-mile-per-hour winds. Does it ever end? Not for Texans and that’s why if you’re not from here, you learn at a young age that Texans are tough, very polite, and stay out of their way on the road. All joking aside, I have noticed a few trends lately: browning and very stressed Junipers, and the misidentification of junipers and cedars.
The Differences Between Junipers vs. Cedars
Let’s go over a couple of ways to differentiate these two landscape additions. Junipers are mostly shrubs and are shorter in size. They are slightly blue-ish in color and the females have blue berries. They have spiny needle-like leaves. Cedars are taller, have fan-like foliage, and usually produce tiny pink flowers. Here in College Station and Bryan, I mostly see juniper shrubs.
To Plant or Not to Plant?
Now, the question arises, should you plant junipers and cedars? Let’s dive in just a bit. They are hardy, low-maintenance trees that can withstand multiple climates, soil types, and temperatures, which would make them a perfect fit for our area in Brazos County. However, in Texas, we have microclimates in different areas from Houston to College Station and that should be taken into account when choosing new trees to add to your landscape.
Common Struggles for Junipers and Cedars in Texas
These trees need well-draining soil with a pH balance of around 4.0 to 6.5 or even to 7.0. That is a huge range! Out of the soil tests I have run, College Station averages around 8.0, up to 9.0. And to make matters worse, clay soil in Texas can make watering a challenge. When the ambient soil temperatures reach above 90 degrees for multiple days, the clay in the soil basically turns into a pot; A pot with no port to release extra water or let it drain. Junipers and cedars also need to be treated for winter mites and bagworms to prevent insect damage to the foliage of the tree. Without the right care, knowledge, and preparation, you have a recipe for a hard life for a juniper or cedar tree.
Can Junipers and Cedars Grow Well in Texas?
With all that said, in my personal opinion, I would not choose to plant cedars or junipers in or around Brazos County. But ultimately, yes, they can and will continue to grow here! Before planting junipers or cedars, make sure to test your soil, consider soil amendments, and do ample research to ensure you can sufficiently water your new trees throughout hot Texas summers. The specific placement when planting these trees as well as the placement of your irrigation system will be crucial to the success of your Texas trees. Additionally, consider hiring a professional who can help ensure high-quality care and efficient watering for your junipers and cedars. Aggieland Green offers extensive tree and shrub care plans as well as deep-root watering to keep Texas trees healthy and strong through challenging seasons. Feel free to contact us to learn more!
If there is anything I can help you with, please know you can always call me at 979-690-7300. You can also set up an appointment with me to go over any questions or concerns you may have. We want to give your new trees and shrubs the best chance at survival in one of the toughest places on earth!
Michael “Zube” Zubillaga (Sue-Bee-Yaga)