Junipers (Juniperus species) are evergreen coniferous plants with fleshy cones and needlelike or scale-like leaves. They are very popular woody plants because there is a form for almost every landscape use.
Junipers grow from 4 inches to 50 feet tall with a spread from 6 to 20 feet depending on the species.
Low-growing junipers can be used as groundcovers. More information concerning this group may be obtained from HGIC 1107, Juniper Groundcovers. Taller junipers are excellent for foundation plantings, screens, hedges or windbreaks.
All junipers generally enjoy full sun and good drainage. They will grow in a variety of soils but do not like their roots to be in waterlogged soil. They tolerate adverse conditions and withstand heat and drought much better than most ornamentals.
Container-grown junipers can be planted year-round. Balled and burlapped junipers are best planted in the fall.
Junipers should not be severely pruned. Determine the mature height and width of a juniper species before planting it.
Junipers are subject to a number of pests and diseases. Among the most serious pests are bagworms (foliage is stripped), twig borers (browning and dying branch tips), juniper scale (no new growth and yellowed foliage), and juniper webworm (webbing together and browning of the foliage). Fungal diseases, which may occur on juniper, are Phomopsis tip blight and Phytophthora root rot. Eastern red cedar is susceptible to the cedar-apple rust fungus.
Species & Cultivars
- Pfitzer juniper (J. chinensis ‘Pfitzerana’) is probably the most widely planted of all junipers. It is a fast grower and often outgrows its location (5 feet high and 10 feet wide). It has feathery, gray-green, sharp needles and small berries. The sexes are separate.
- Armstrong juniper (J. chinensis ‘Armstrongii’) is an upright 4 feet by 4 feet shrub, which is more compact than Pfitzer juniper.
- Gold Coast juniper (J. chinensis ‘Gold Coast’) is a compact 3 feet by 5 feet shrub with soft, lacy, golden yellow foliage.
- Hetz Chinese juniper (J. chinensis ‘Hetzii’) grows 15 feet tall and wide with blue-gray needles and branches that spread outward and upward at 45-degree angles. This is a fast- grower.
- Hollywood juniper (J. chinensis ‘Kaizuka’) is an irregular, upright shrub, 20 feet high by 10 feet wide, which tolerates salt spray. The branches have a twisted appearance. Give this shrub plenty of room.
- Mint Julep (J. chinensis ‘Mint Julep’) has mint green foliage and is a vase-shaped shrub, which grows up to 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide.
- Blue Star juniper or J. squamata ‘Blue Star’ is a 3- by -5 feet, mound-like shrub with silver-blue foliage, which darkens in winter.
- J. chinensis ‘Blue Point’ grows 7 to 8 feet and has dense, blue-green scale and needle foliage.
- J. chinensis ‘Robusta Green’ is a brilliant green, dense-tufted column up to 20 feet.
- J. chinensis ‘Spartan’ grows to 20 feet.
- J. scopulorum ‘Gray Gleam’ is a slow grower, which reaches 15 to 20 feet in 30 to 40 years and has gray-green foliage.
- J. scopulorum ‘Pathfinder’ grows to 25 feet and has gray-green foliage.
- J. scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’ is the narrowest blue-gray spire, up to 15 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.
- J. scopulorum ‘Wichita Blue’ is a broad, silver-blue pyramid, 18 feet or taller.
- Ozark white cedar or ashe juniper (J. ashei) grows to 20 feet. The foliage is gray-green, berries are blue, ¼ to ½ inch in diameter, with a waxy bloom on the female plants. These trees like dry, chalky soil, have a shredding gray bark and a trunk that often divides near the base. They are resistant to cedar-apple rust. The pollen of male plants may trigger allergies.
- Eastern red cedar (J. virginiana)is a native tree, which grows 40 to 50 feet high and 8 to 20 feet wide. The tree has dark green foliage that turns reddish in cold weather. The berries are pale blue-green to dark blue with silvery bloom, and the bark is reddish-brown. The tree tolerates drought and poor soil and the wood and foliage are very aromatic.
- Southern red cedar (J. silicicola) is very similar to Eastern red cedar, but often more open and wide-spreading. These trees make a good windbreak. Southern red cedar is excellent for coastal region, because of the trees tolerance to salt.
Originally published 05/99