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All About the Juniper Tree: Varieties, Care and More

By Edited Feb 13, 2016 0 0

Juniper trees are one of those rare things in a garden; they look good pretty much year round and are ideal for those of us that don't have green fingers. Yep, if you regularly forget to water your plants then the juniper is for you! There are different juniper tree varieties to consider though, depending on your space, so let's take a look.

Where to Grow

Juniper trees are a popular addition to any garden, no matter what their type. They are:

  • Tolerant of most soil types.
    Blue Heaven juniper tree
  • Easy to grow.
  • Have a wonderful array of foliage, even on the same tree.
  • They maintain their leaves through winter.
  • Are even able to survive drought.
  • They are highly versatile - bonsai growers love juniper trees.
  • The only atmosphere that juniper trees do not like to grow in is wet and boggy conditions.
  • Their native origins are rocky areas - even growing on mountains - so growing in soil that is poor, or contains gravel or hardcore, is still a condition on which a juniper could grow.

The only other consideration when growing your juniper tree is that it does not have to compete for space in its planted location. Plants that will stifle it, and lay against the leaves of a juniper will cause the tree's foliage to turn brown.

Different Varieties for Different Gardens

There is a variety of juniper tree for almost any type of garden, from shrubby varieties and bonsai, to tall upright ones, and ones that can be sculpted to shape (topiary). The foliage can vary from silvery gray, to mauve and purple, bronze and gold, to any shade of green, meaning that there is a variety for everyone.

For a classic upright growing juniper variety, the most popular choice is the Skyrocket juniper that produces mid-grey color foliage. Blue Arrow is another alternative that has the advantage of being more dense in foliage. Both grow tall, and some pruning will be necessary to keep the shape, later in its growth cycle. Try Totem Pole too, for its dark green color, and Blue Heaven (picture above), for its blue/green foliage.

Juniper bonsai

If you don't have room in your garden for a large juniper tree variety, then consider a bonsai juniper tree. Beginning bonsai, isn't as difficult as you may think. Choose a young juniper tree and wire-train and prune it, to your desired shape. Bonsai trees should still be kept outdoors though. Green Mound juniper is a good tree variety to try.

If you like the idea of a small juniper tree, but don't have time for bonsai, then consider a more shrubby variety of juniper such as Blue Star, or Blue Rug, that grow flat and close to the ground. The Green Mound juniper, popular with bonsai enthusiasts, can also be used in the garden as another low growing alternative - particularly prized for its attractive and neat foliage. These shrubby varieties of juniper would also be at home growing with alpine plants in a rock garden. Further good news of course is that rock gardens are extremely low maintenance, so you get a great look to your garden for very little effort.

Care Tips

One of the plus points of growing juniper trees is that they are particularly low maintenance. There are, however, a few tips you can follow to get the most from your juniper tree:

  • Keep them watered in their first year of planting. In the second year, water them only when it's particularly dry.
  • Cedar-apple rust, is a fungal disease that all varieties of juniper tree are susceptible to, and whilst it doesn't cause them any permanent damage (only usually lasting one season), it is particularly unsightly. To spot if your juniper is a victim of this disease, you will see orange galls developing on twigs in April/May, that then become long sausage shapes. They will then dry up and fall off during the summer months. To prevent an attack again you can try spraying your tree with fungicide, every 10 days during the summer - starting in July.
  • Most juniper trees don't need any pruning, but if you have a variety that grows more densely, that you want to maintain, then prune extensively to keep its shape and dense foliage.

Other Juniper Facts

Did You Know?

Juniper berries
Juniper trees, like holly trees, are dioecious, meaning that the female part of the plant that produces the berries is separate to the male part of the plant that produces the pollen-bearing flowers. It depends on what juniper tree varieties you have, as to how fruitful they will be, but juniper berries usually start to appear anytime from year one, to year three.

The oil extracted from juniper berries, can be used for numerous health benefits as well as being used in the flavoring of gin. Proving that growing juniper trees could well be a fruitful exercise.

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