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The botanical name for heather is juniper. It is a monoecious or dioecious, evergreen coniferous plant, which belongs to the Cypress family. The Latin name - Juniperus - can be translated as "giving branches suitable for weaving", the Celtic name Jeneprus means "prickly", sometimes also called heather or juniper.
The birthplace of this plant can be boldly called the entire Northern Hemisphere. The areola of its distribution is very wide, it is found from the shores of the Arctic and reaches the mountain subtropical regions. Even in Africa, you can find a special kind of juniper - East African. Since ancient times, this plant has been assigned many magical properties. For example, it was believed that a branch of a plant or a wreath from it would save the house from evil spirits, and would also be a wonderful magnet to attract happiness.
Large trees can form real juniper forests, but most often group plantings in nature do not take up much space. The most extensive can be found in Central Asia, the Mediterranean, in the south of North America and in Mexico. High and medium-sized junipers live in the undergrowth of deciduous and coniferous forests, where clean thickets are sometimes found. The most undersized species are found on rocky slopes and rocks. In total, about 70 species of juniper are known, 20 of them are found on the territory of the former USSR.
Most types of shrubs are drought tolerant and photophilous, undemanding to soils, but most of all they prefer nutritious and light substances. The average life span of a plant is about 300-500 years, but there are cases of older specimens, which are about six hundred years old.
In trees and shrubs, junipers are almost always bare, without scales, sometimes surrounded by short leaves pressed to the branch. Only the stone form is endowed with many dense scales. In young junipers, the leaves are coniferous, but with age they acquire a scaly shape.
The needles of a plant are similar to the needles of any plant from the Cypress family: bluish-green, trihedral, needle-shaped, slightly pointed at the tips. Female spikelets consist of one whorl of scaly carpels or two or three pairs of carpel whorls, endowed with 1-2 ovules. Male spikelets are opposite in pairs, have scaly stamens, each of which has longitudinally tearing anthers.
Cones of heather have a spherical, sometimes somewhat elongated shape, blue or gray. Usually, they do not fully open due to tightly closed, fleshy scales. Such cones ripen in the second year.
How Juniper Propagates
Juniper can be propagated in four different ways: seeds, cuttings, grafting and layering. In the latter way, creeping species often reproduce. Seeds and heather branches are harvested in early autumn, while the seeds are stratified for five months. With the help of vaccination, the rarest and most valuable plant species and forms are propagated.
The use of juniper in landscape design
Trees and tall shrubby forms of juniper are often used in parkland. Juniper is used in small groups to create hedges, as well as in single plantings. Low-growing and creeping varieties of heather are planted as coverings of slopes, with their help stony gardens are created. The roots of the plant perfectly "hold" the soil, which prevents erosion, and they are often used to strengthen slopes. Shrubs and trees grow slowly, cut perfectly.
Wonderful partners for the juniper will be wild perennials, ornamental cereals, flower shrubs. But one of the significant drawbacks of this plant is its low resistance to smoke and gas contamination, and therefore it is rarely used in urban conditions. The needles of plants have a bright aroma, which intensifies when the sun and rain.
There are special dwarf forms of plants grown in room conditions with constant spraying. For the formation of bonsai should choose seedlings that have an interesting shape of the trunk and shiny harsh needles. Juniper bonsai develops well in the sun, but prolonged exposure to direct sunlight does not benefit miniature plants, and therefore it is better to hide the plants in partial shade during the hot summer season.
When planting juniper in containers in the open air, bonsai should be protected from strong winds and the crown of the crown should be covered during frosty periods. From long contact with snow, burns may appear on the juniper needles, therefore it is better to plant mini-trees under a canopy. As utensils for planting junipers, it is better to choose glazed or unglazed deep ceramic containers. Regularly remove yellowed needles, trunk and leaves to wash with water. It is convenient to use a toothbrush to clean the bark.
At first, bonsai grows very quickly, but then the growth rate decreases. The transplant should be carried out once every 3-5 years, preferably in the spring. The soil mixture should consist of equal parts of foliage, compost, river sand, and the soil should also be loose. During pincing, the plant plucks completely all the tops of young shoots. In this case, the trees grow up and in breadth, while maintaining dwarf forms. The shoots inside the crown are most carefully pinched. In winter, it is better not to tweeze, and after the end of the cold weather, ugly, dried and damaged branches are removed.
Pruning is best done in early spring or mid-autumn.
Diseases and Pests
The most common disease among junipers is rust. Symptoms of this ailment are the appearance on the branches of mucous, gelatinous and yellowish discharge. When such ailments appear, the damaged branches should be removed, and the plant itself should be treated with a solution of arceride (50 g per 10 liters of water). Spraying is carried out 4 times with an interval of 10 days. You can also effectively use immunostimulants and micronutrient fertilizers. In addition to the fact that the juniper itself is susceptible to rust, it is also its carrier, and therefore shrubs and trees of heather are planted near fruit and berry crops.
Juniper is also infected with a coniferous disease - shute, which is caused by parasitic fungi. When a plant becomes ill, its needles become brown or yellow-dirty, do not crumble for a long time. In the summer, round black bodies form on the surface of the needles, in which the sporulation of the fungus is preserved during the winter. Most often, shute plants that grow in shaded areas are exposed to this plant. This disease also captures weakened plants. The fight against this plant is carried out using fungicidal spraying, it is also recommended to treat plants with copper-containing and sulfuric preparations. Needles need to be removed, branches that have dried up should be cut off.
Juniper aphids are a common pest that attacks shoots of plants of the Cypress family. With mass reproduction, it can cause great harm, especially to young bushes and trees, since it sucks out the juice, weakens, delays the growth of shoots, and inhibits the plant. Aphids are most often observed in clusters of ants, therefore, the formation of anthills should not be allowed. If the aphid nevertheless attacked your plant, the affected areas should be washed with water, adding a little soapy solution to it. The procedure is repeated every 7-10 days, while making sure that soapy water does not get on the roots of the plant. You can also use the drug "Fitoferma" (20 g per 10 liters of water).
Juniper horizontal (video)
Juniper scale can settle on the needles of plants, young cones. The larvae stick to the needles, which then dry up and fall off. Scale, sucking the juice from the plant, causes drying out, curvature of the shoots. To combat this pest in the spring with the appearance of the first thawed spots near the trunks of the plant, it is necessary to put caterpillar glue rings on the shoots so that the scale insects cannot reach the top. Another option: dress special fishing belts that are made of burlap or straw.
If the pest is not severe, then you can simply brush them with a toothbrush or knife. With a more severe lesion, the tree is sprayed with an insecticide.
Often the juniper is struck by a spruce spider mite. He entangles the needles with a thin and rare cobweb. As a result, the needles first appear yellowish, and then brown spots, and after it crumbles. For one summer season, the female pest lays 3-4 larvae. When the first signs of infection with a spider mite appear, the plant should be sprayed with colloidal sulfur, extracts from dandelion or garlic. Acaricides can be used for this.