Juniper

Juniper Shrubs
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
golden common juniper
Credit: William N. Hopkins
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golden common juniper
Juniper Shrubs

Versatile and tough, junipers offer reliable evergreen color and texture to just about any garden. Whether you are looking for a steely blue groundcover or a taller shrub for a privacy hedge, there's a juniper variety that can fill the job. The plant that flavors gin will also add flavor to your garden.

genus name
  • Juniperus
light
  • Part Sun
  • Sun
plant type
  • Shrub
height
  • 6 to 12 inches
  • 1 to 3 feet
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • 8 to 20 feet
  • 20 feet or more
width
  • Up to 20 feet, depending on variety
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
zones
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
propagation

Colorful Combinations

Junipers are interesting evergreens for several reasons. The foliage is one source of interest: Immature plants bear small, sharp needles, but as the plant matures, it grows scale-like leaves, which then bear fruiting cones. Consider the foliage for your planting situation. For instance, if you'll be planting near walkways or other spots that get pedestrian traffic, seek varieties that only have scales—the needles can be quite sharp and cause a temporary rash on some people.

Juniper Care

Their ability to grow in some pretty tough situations, with little care, makes junipers prized in gardens. Although they handle drought well, they need well-drained soil. They also need full sun for the best growth. (They even tolerate winter's salt spray, so they work alongside roads and sidewalks.) Shady spots tend to result in loose, open growth, which reduces the plant's appeal. Coloring on many of the blue/silver varieties may also be less vibrant in part shade. It's important to note that some of the gold foliage varieties need shelter from hot afternoon sun to prevent burning.

Junipers require little maintenance, just minor trimming, and shaping. Never cut them back to the bare stems at their centers, since this wood is usually too old and tough to set new growth. If you're training a juniper into a formal shape, select a variety amenable to regular pruning. Groundcover types are generally not a good choice for that, and should be minimally pruned, if at all.

So Many Choices

Junipers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. You can roughly group them into three main growth types: groundcover, mid-height or mounding, and tall upright. Each has its own uses and comes in a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. As you venture into the world of juniper, it's best to narrow your search down to a single type, and go from there. Within each group, there are still numerous options to choose from, so you'll still have your work cut out for you.

More Varieties of Juniper

blue star juniper
Credit: Justin Hancock

'Blue Star' Juniper

Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star' features dense branches of silvery-gray needles with white stripes. This drought-tolerant juniper is compact, growing 2 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 5-9

california juniper
Credit: Denny Schrock

California Juniper

Juniperus californica has blue-gray foliage and showy berries that make this native plant very ornamental. It grows 10-15 feet tall and, once established, is exceptionally drought tolerant. Zones 8-10

hetzii juniper
Credit: Carol Freeman

'Hetzii' Juniper

Juniperus media 'Hetzii' is an upright shrub, growing 7 feet tall and 10 feet wide, with evergreen foliage shaded with blue. Zones 4-8

gold juniper
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Gold Juniper

Juniperus virginianum 'Aurea' forms a tall (up to 15 feet), loose pyramid of golden evergreen foliage. Zones 2-9

golden common juniper
Credit: William N. Hopkins

Golden Common Juniper

Juniperus communis 'Depressa Aurea' is a native plant that has a low habit—2 feet tall and 4 feet wide. New shoots are bright gold. Zones 2-6

grey owl juniper
Credit: Dean Schoeppner

'Grey Owl' Juniper

Juniperus virginiana 'Grey Owl' features silvery-gray foliage that turns slightly purple at the tips in winter. It reaches 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Zones 2-9

icee blue juniper
Credit: Denny Schrock

'Icee Blue' Juniper

Juniperus horizontalis 'Monber' ('Icee Blue' is a commercial name) maintains a dense, full crown year-round. Brilliant silver-blue foliage is the hallmark of this cultivar. In the coldest climates, its foliage becomes plum purple in winter. Zones 3-9

mother lode juniper
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

'Mother Lode' Juniper

Juniperus horizontalis 'Mother Lode' forms a low-growing mat of bright golden foliage that bronzes in winter. It grows 8 inches tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 4-9

pfitzer juniper
Credit: Jay Wilde

Pfitzer Juniper

Juniperus pfitzeriana is a wide, spreading shrub with scalelike leaves. It grows 6 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Zones 4-9

maney chinese juniper
Credit: Dean Schoeppner

'Maney' Chinese Juniper

Juniperus chinensis 'Maney' is a low-growing shrub with gray foliage. It grows 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Zones 3-8

Garden Plans for Juniper

property line garden illustration
Credit: Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Property Line Garden

This stylish border features a sophisticated color palette. The perennials in the design, chosen for their long season of bloom, offer flowers in violet-blue and yellow shades. Evergreen shrubs in silver-blue and bright chartreuse-gold keep the color scheme going year-round.

Click here to get this free plan.

clay soil garden plan illustration
Credit: Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Clay Soil Garden

Even if you're stuck with heavy clay soil, you can still grow a lovely garden. Follow this plan for a stunning design that can hold up to dense soil.

Get this garden plan now!

orange and white florals with greenery outdoor garden next to large fountain
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Drought-Tolerant Garden Plan

This informal mixed garden bed features drought-tolerant trees, evergreen shrubs, perennials, and annuals.

Download this plan.

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