With over 50 species and many cultivars, Junipers are a varied group of garden plants ranging from low growing ground covers to tall trees.
Juniper trees are a rather special tree in that they are survivors. They have sap that resists rot, so are long lived, and under stress will shed limbs as a survival method.
There are example of these long lasting trees living for over 700 years.
- These are a versatile tree, most are best in sunny positions, however some will grow in shade. In shade they do tend to develop a more open growth habit.
- Wet boggy poorly drained soils are the major problem that Junipers can face.
- Growth rate depends on the variety, the lower growing types are generally slower that the upright types such as Blue Point.
Fragrance or ‘smell’ depends largely on the variety, anything from a cedar like smell to a gin like smell. And it should smell like gin as Juniperus Communis is the traditional botanical from which gin is made. Juniperus Virginiana is also used, and it is the berries that are used, either dried or fresh.
The best Juniper tree for the garden will depend on the use as well as the size.
So Juniperus procumbens “Nana” will reach around 24 inches, while Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’ is upright and will reach around 15ft.
A number of species are native to North America, and some varieties of Juniper communis are included. However many other species from Japan and Asia make excellent plants for landscaping.
Juniper communis is the species commonly grown for the edible berries, although a few other species also are used.
Some species such as Juniperus chinensis ‘Shimpaku’ are widely used in Bonsai.
- Juniperus conferta or ‘Shore Juniper’ are a low growing species well suited for use as ground cover plants, generally growing less than .5m high they have sharp dense foliage and form a matt, or can be used to fall over low garden walls. Foliage is generally green (Juniperus conferta ’emerald sea’) although some have golden yellow foliage such as Juniperus conferta ‘All Gold’
- Juniperus communis – This is the common Juniper grown for berries as well as a landscaping plant.
- Juniperus Squamata ‘Blue Star’
- Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’ is a compact mat-forming evergreen shrub used as a ground cover plant.
- Juniperus horizontalis (Creeping Juniper) are another low growing species.
- Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltoni’ or’ Blue Rug Juniper’ living up to its name of forming a ground hugging matt.
- Juniperus chinensis Blue Point has very attractive blue foliage.
- Juniperus horizontalis ‘Bar Harbor’, ‘Blue Chip’ and ‘Youngstown’ are all popular cultivars.
- Juniperus sabina (Savin Juniper) is a shrubby evergreen conifer of spreading or creeping habit
- Juniperus squamata prostrata is a low growing variety used as a ground cover plant.