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How to Grow: Juniper
Juniperus spp and hybrids
Bloom Period and Seasonal Color
Junipers are grown for their evergreen foliage in various shades of green, gold and blue
Mature Height x Spread
1 to 40 feet x 5 to 20 feet
Native, deer resistant
You see them everywhere in New England. Junipers are common evergreen plants in many landscapes. This group is huge and varied. They all have attractive green or blue-green needles and blue berries that add winter interest to a garden. There are creeping types that grow no more than a few feet tall, but spread like a carpet. Many small to medium-sized junipers make great landscape shrubs in borders and along house. Large shrub types can be used as visual screens or barriers in the landscape. Tall, columnar varieties look like small trees. All these junipers are hardy and tough plants that even deer avoid. They have bristly needles that can be scratchy. Junipers are often good candidates for topiaries.
When, Where and How to Plant
Junipers are generally hardy throughout New England. Purchase plants from a local garden center and plant from spring to summer in a full sun location on well-drained, humus-rich soil. Junipers are adapted to many soil types. Space plants depending on their ultimate size.
Water young shrubs well and mulch with pine needles or bark mulch to keep the soil evenly moist and weeds at bay. Fertilize in spring with a layer of compost and an organic plant food for evergreens.
Regional Advice and Care
Prune junipers in spring after a spurt of new growth to shape the plant and remove dead, broken or diseased branches. Wear gloves and a long sleeved shirt since the needles are scratchy. Overgrown junipers can be pruned back severely, but will take many years to fill back in again. Some selections may be susceptible to diseases, such as cedar-apple rust and stem dieback and insects, such as bagworms. Select resistant varieties.
Companion Planting and Design
Plant low growing junipers in front of a shrub border, along a wall, in a rock garden or creeping down a bank. Plant small to medium-sized selections as foundation plants or in a mixed shrub border. Plant tall columnar junipers on the corner of a home or in back of a shrub planting. For mass plantings, grow large sized varieties. These also can form an informal hedge to block a view or utility box.
For low growing junipers, try ‘Blue Rug’, ‘Blue Prince’ and ‘Bar Harbor’. These grow 6 to 12 inch tall, with a creeping form and blue-green foliage that can turn blue to purple in winter. For a low growing mounded variety, try ‘Nana’. The ‘Sargent’ juniper is a popular 3-foot tall and 7-foot wide variety that is disease resistant. ‘Old Gold’ is a golden colored shrub that’s 2 to 3 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide. The Pfitzeriana types are small shrubs that can have golden, blue-green or variegated needles depending on the variety. ‘Burkii’ and ‘Emerald Sentinel’ are tall, columnar shaped juniper varieties.
Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.