Tip blight has likely infected juniper plant


Garden Q&A


For three years, my juniper has browned on some of the new tips. It's planted beside a downspout, but usually the clay soil is extremely dry and hard to keep moist.

Two twig and tip blights cause juniper branches to turn brown at the ends, one in spring (Phomopsis blight) and one in summer-winter (Kabatina blight). These fungal diseases are exacerbated by overwatering, root damage and, especially in this case, drought.

It sounds as if your junipers have Phomopsis tip blight, but in essence both diseases act in a similar fashion. Because fungicides are only effective before disease symptoms appear, your main form of control now is to prune out infected portions.

When you buy junipers, select disease-resistant varieties and amend clay soil with organic materials so it absorbs water, yet drains freely.

How can I tell when my watermelons and cantaloupe are ripe?

Musk melons are ripe at "full slip" - the stem separates easily from the fruit - or "half slip"- the fruits can be separated from the stem with moderate pressure from your thumb. True cantaloupes will not "slip" when ripe; they need to be cut. Melons will quickly rot if allowed to become dead ripe on the vine, so harvest frequently.

As for watermelons, there are three indicators of ripeness: a yellow underside, a dead tendril where the fruit is attached to the vine, and a dull rather than metallic sound when the watermelon is thumped. The last method takes some honing, so until you've perfected your thumping you may want to use all three indicators.


When vigorous tomato vines grow over the tops of stakes or cages, they can be headed back with loping shears to keep them in bounds. This will not diminish your harvest.

Remove water sprouts from dogwoods, crabapple and other trees. Water sprouts are those thin, willowy shoots that emerge from the trunk or branches.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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