Juniper shrubs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes making them suitable for many landscape situations, including specimens, mass plantings, hedges, foundation plantings and ground covers. Since there are so many varieties, you are sure to find a type of juniper that is appropriate for your yard and garden project.
Care of Juniper Shrubs
Junipers do best in full sun. If they are planted without the benefit of full sun, you will find them growing much sparser in shade. They also prefer moist, well-drained soil but will tolerate dry soils once they are established. You should try to keep them away from any type of road salt, which can cause winter drying. Avoid planting them right under drip lines as falling snow and heavy rains can damage the branches.
All junipers should be watered well until the plants are well established; then junipers prefer to be on the dry side. You should water them well at the end of the growing season so plants go into winter with ample soil moisture. Feed them every spring with acid plant food.
Large junipers should be trimmed annually in early summer to keep them the right size and shape. Keep in mind that you should try to maintain their natural growth habit as each variety will be different.
Propagation of Juniper Shrubs
They are rooted from softwood or hardwood cuttings that are taken from the stem tips.
Pests and Diseases of Juniper Shrubs
Junipers are notorious for having bagworms. They can defoliate a plant when the infestations becomes overpowering. To get rid of the bagworms, you will needto remove and destroy all “bags” as soon as you see them. For larger problems you can spray them to kill the worms while still in the bag. They will still have to be pulled off the bush manually.
Spider mites can be a problem in hot, dry weather. Spray the foliage forcefully with water each day or use a miticide in severe cases.
Juniper blight shows up during the wet spring season. If this occurrs, simply snip off the diseased portions.
Species of Junipers Shrubs
1. Chinese Juniper, (J.chinensis), grows in zones 4-9 and will reach 50-60’ h x 15-20’ wide. It is an evergreen tree or shrub and has a pyramidal to spreading form. It makes an excellent specimen, foundation, hedge, or ground cover.
Related species of the Chinese Juniper include: common juniper (J. communis) which grows 5-10’ and is hardy to zone 2. Shore juniper (J. conferta) is a low ground cover especially adapted for planting on sand dunes near the seashore in zones 6-9. Creeping juniper (J. borizontalis) has pendulous stems 1-2’ long that turn purplish in fall. Japanese garden juniper (J. procumbens) grows 8-12’ tall and makes a good ground cover. Savin juniper (J. Sabina) is a 4-6’ spreading shrub with especially aromatic leaves. It is hardy in zone 3.
2. Rocky Mountain Juniper ( Juniper scopulorum), is also known as Colorado Red Cedar. It grows in zones 3-7 and reaches 35’h x 3-15’wide. It is an evergreen that also has a pyramidal form and will tolerate light shade. This variety has a rich blue and silver coloration to its leaves that is attractive in the landscape, especially in winter. Some plants will have dark blue berries on them. This variety can get cedar-apple rust that results in galls about 1” in diameter. If they are left on the tree they will form strange-looking orange horns the following spring. If this happens, snip off the portion of the branch with a gall on it. They may also get bagworms as the other junipers.
Related species of the Rocky Mountain Juniper include: Single seed juniper (J. squamata) is a 2’ tall shrub that forms a blue cushion of foliage. Use it in foundation plantings or in a rock garden. It does not form berries and is resistant to juniper blight. Eastern red cedar (J. virginiana) has sharp, needlelike foliage and peeling brownish-red bark. It is a durable, adaptable tree or large shrub and is best used in natural landscapes.