People plant junipers for two main reasons. First, they're toughthey tolerate drought and almost any soil, and they're hard to kill. Second, they come in many formsground covers, shrubs, columns, or treesand their needlelike foliage may be green, gold, gray, or various shades of blue. That's the good.
On the down side, junipers seem to be the number one choice for landscaping hotels, office buildings, shopping malls, gas stations, and highway medians. Using lots of them can give your yard a distinctly commercial look. But if you don't mind your home resembling a galleria, feel free.
Ground covers. This group includes low, spreading plants from a few inches to a few feet high. It takes a planting several years to fill in completely, so for the first few years, mulch between plants to keep down weeds. You'll see how important this is if you ever have to reach into prickly juniper foliage to pull weeds.
Shrub types. These plants usually grow wider than tall and range from about 2 ft. to more than 10 ft. tall. Shapes include mounding, gracefully spreading, weeping, and weirdly twisted.
Columnar types. These upright growers have dense, pyramidal to conical shapes and are often used as vertical accents. (Planting them on the corners of your house, though, can make it look like King Arthur's castle.) They grow from about 625 ft. tall.
Tree types. These picturesque plants love chalky soil. Spread by birds, they dot the Southern countryside. Single trees become stately. Groups make handsome windbreaks and allees and are classic plants for lining a long driveway.
In many cases, junipers are best known by their selections. Pure species are seldom seen.
J. ashei. OZARK WHITE CEDAR, ASHE JUNIPER. Tree. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to south-central U.S. and northern Mexico. Common juniper of Texas Hill Country. Irregular or spherical crown to 20 ft. tall and wide. Trunk often divides near the base. Gray-green foliage. Shredding gray bark. Female plants bear blue, - to -inch berries with a waxy sheen. Likes dry, chalky soil. Immune to cedar-apple rust. Pollen of male plants can trigger allergies.
J. chinensis. CHINESE JUNIPER. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to northeast Asia.
'Blue Point'. Columnar. Broad column to 12 ft. tall by 8 ft. wide. Dense, blue-green foliage.
'Hetzii' (J. chinensis 'Hetzii' ). HETZ CHINESE JUNIPER. Shrub. Inverted pyramid to 15 ft. tall and wide. Blue-gray foliage. Branches spread outward and upward at 45 angle.
'Kaizuka' ('Torulosa' ). HOLLYWOOD JUNIPER. Shrub. Irregular, upright to 20 ft. tall by 10 ft. wide. Rich, green foliage with soft texture. Branches have outlandish, twisted appearance. Give it plenty of room. Good in large containers. Tolerates salt spray. 'Variegated Kaizuka' ('Kaizuka Variegata') has foliage splashed with creamy white.
'Robusta Green'. Columnar. Irregular column to 1218 ft. tall by 57 ft. wide. Brilliant, green, dense foliage.
'San Jose'. Ground cover. Prostrate, dense, and spreading to 2 ft. tall by 6 ft. or more wide. Dark green foliage. Heavy trunked; slow growing.
'Spartan'. Columnar. Pyramidal to columnar to 20 ft. tall by 34 ft. wide. Rich green, dense foliage. Fastgrowing, very handsome plant.
J. c. sargentii. SARGENT CHINESE JUNIPER. Ground cover. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Ground hugging, spreading to 2 ft. tall by 10 ft. wide. Feathery, gray-green or green foliage. Classic bonsai plant. Selections include blue-green 'Glauca' and bright green 'Viridis'.
J. davurica 'Parsonii'. Ground cover. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Asia, Siberia, and possibly Japan. Spreading to 1 ft. tall by 8 ft. or more wide. Rich sprays of dark green needles on slender branches. One of the best junipers for the Southeast.
J. horizontalis. CREEPING JUNIPER. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9 unless noted. Native to Canada and northern U.S.
'Bar Harbor'. Ground cover. Ground-hugging, creeping to 1 ft. tall by 8 ft. or more wide. Fast growing. Feathery, blue-gray foliage turns purple in winter. Tolerates salt spray.
'Icee Blue'. Ground cover. Creeping, very flat to 4 in. tall by 68 ft. wide. A marked improvement over 'Wiltonii'; intense silvery and denser foliage.
'Plumosa'. ANDORRA CREEPING JUNIPER. Ground cover. Creeping to 1 ft. tall by 10 ft. wide. Plumy foliage is gray-green in summer, plum-purple in winter. Flat branches with upright branchlets.
'Prince of Wales'. Ground cover. Creeping to 8 in. tall by 810 ft. wide. Medium green foliage turns purplish in fall.
'Wiltonii'. BLUE RUG CREEP- ING JUNIPER. Ground cover. Very flat, creeping to 4 in. tall by 810 ft. wide. Silver blue foliage. Long, trailing branches set with short, dense branchlets. Like ' Bar Harbor' but tighter; rarely shows limbs.
'Yukon Belle'. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Ground cover. Creeping to 6 in. tall by 68 ft. wide. Silvery blue foliage. Extremely cold hardy.
J. x pfitzeriana (J. chinensis 'Pfitzeriana' ). PFITZER JUNIPER. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to northeast Asia.
'Armstrong'. Shrub. Upright, dense to 4 ft. tall by 5 ft. wide. Lacy, medium green foliage.
'Gold Coast'. Shrub. Compact to 3 ft. tall by 5 ft. wide. Soft, lacy, golden yellow foliage.
'Mint Julep'. Shrub. Vase shaped to 46 ft. tall by 6 ft. wide. Mint green foliage. Arching branches. Very attractive.
'Pfitzeriana Aurea'. Shrub. Arching to 34 ft. tall by 810 ft. wide. Greenish gray foliage; current seasons growth golden yellow.
'Pfitzeriana Glauca'. Shrub. Arching to 56 ft. tall by 1015 ft. wide. Silvery blue foliage.
'Wilhelm Pfitzer' ('Pfitzeriana'). Shrub. Arching to 56 ft. tall by 1520 ft. wide. Feathery, gray-green, sharp-needled foliage.
J. procumbens. JAPANESE GARDEN JUNIPER. Ground cover. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to Japan. To 2 ft. tall by 1220 ft. wide. Feathery yet substantial blue-green foliage on strong branches.
'Nana'. Ground cover. To 1 ft. tall by 68 ft. wide. Curved branches spreading in all directions. Shorter needles and slower growth than species. Can be staked into picturesque shrub. Good in containers.
J. rigida conferta (J. conferta). SHORE JUNIPER. Ground cover. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to coastal Japan. Prostrate, creeping to 1 ft. tall by 10 ft. wide. Bright, soft green needles. Excellent for seashore. Takes sandy soil and salt spray. 'Blue Pacific' is denser, bluer, and more heat tolerant. 'Emerald Sea' is bright green.
J. sabina. SAVIN JUNIPER. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. Native to central and southern Europe to central Asia.
'Broadmoor'. Ground cover. Dense, mounding, and spreading to 23 ft. tall by 10 ft. wide. Soft, bright green foliage.
'Buffalo'. Ground cover. To 812 in. tall by 8 ft. wide. Soft, feathery, bright green foliage.
'Tamariscifolia'. Ground cover. Symmetrically spreading to 1 ft. tall by 1012 ft. wide. Dense, blue-green foliage. Widely used.
J. scopulorum. ROCKY MOUNTAIN JUNIPER. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. Native to western North America.
'Blue Arrow'. Columnar. Very narrow to 1215 ft. tall by 2 ft. wide. Tight, bright blue foliage.
'Blue Creeper'. Ground cover. Spreading to 2 ft. tall by 68 ft. wide. Bright blue-green foliage.
'Blue Heaven'. Columnar. Neatly pyramidal to 20 ft. high by 6 ft. wide. Foliage remains bright blue all year.
'Gray Gleam'. Columnar. Symmetrical to 15 ft. tall by 57 ft. wide. Silver-gray foliage. Slow grower. Tidy, formal-looking plant.
'Pathfinder'. Columnar. Upright pyramid to 25 ft. tall by 12 ft. wide. Blue-gray foliage; looser than 'Gray Gleam'.
'Skyrocket'. Columnar. Narrow spire to 1015 ft. tall by 12 ft. wide. Blue-gray foliage. Good vertical accent.
'Tolleson's Blue Weeping'. Shrub. Weeping to 20 ft. tall by 10 ft. wide.
'Witchita Blue'. Columnar. Broad pyramid to 18 ft. tall by 6 ft. wide. Bright blue foliage; very striking.
J. squamata. SINGLESEED JUNIPER. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. Native to western China.
'Blue Star'. Shrub. Mounding to 3 ft. tall by 5 ft. wide. Squat, dense plant with silvery blue, sharp-pointed needles.
'Chinese Silver'. Shrub. Dense pyramid to 7 ft. tall by 4 ft. wide. Foliage is shiny blue. Red, peeling bark.
'Holger'. Shrub. Dense, spreading to 35 ft. tall and wide. Yellow new growth matures to blue-green.
J. virginiana. EASTERN RED CEDAR. Tree. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to eastern North America. Conical to broadly pyramidal to 4050 ft. tall to 1530 ft. wide. Picturesque tree with dark green foliage that turns bronze in cold weather. Tolerates drought, poor soil; thrives in limy soil. Many selections sold. Aromatic foliage and wood. Female trees adorned with thousands of bright blue fruit.
'Canaertii'. Tree. Upright pyramid to 20 ft. tall. Dark green foliage sets huge amount of blue fruit.
'Emerald Sentinal'. Tree. Upright pyramid to 1525 ft. tall by 58 ft. wide. Dark green foliage. Useful hedge or screen.
J. v. siliciola. SOUTHERN RED CEDAR. Native to southern-most U.S. Zones MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 7-9. Tree. Cone-shaped to 30 ft. tall by 20 ft. wide. Very similar to the above species, though often more open and wide-spreading. Grows in sand. Frequently planted in rows and used as windbreak. Tolerates seaside conditions.
Junipers take about any kind of soil as long as it is well drained. Wet soil causes root rot and death. Full sun is the rule. Very little trimming is needed if you choose a plant of the right size and shape to fill the allotted space. Deer seldom browse junipers, but the plants are subject to various pests and diseases. Among the most common are bagworms (foliage is stripped), spider mites (yellowing or browning needles with fine webbing present), cedar-apple rust (orange, jellylike galls in foliage), and tip blight (branch tips turn brown in spring).