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All About Junipers
Juniper shrubs are well known in the landscape. Some are native to North America, and there may be over 400 cultivars available. Whether you call it a short tree or a shrub depends on the shape, but the woody perennial evergreen is a long-lived and reliable source of color and texture for your home.
Perfect Plants offers juniper shrubs for sale in many shades of green, teal, and blue. The berries are a darker, denim color and may be covered with a dusty white coating. They are not true berries, but female seed cones with a unique, soft form.
Junipers all belong to the genus Juniperus. Many cultivars used in landscaping are derived from J. virginiana, also known as eastern red cedar. J. communis is the species commonly used for flavoring gin. In fact, to be sold as gin, juniper must be the dominant botanical used to flavor the spirit.
For centuries, juniper berries have been used as a flavoring in wild game, meats, and sausages. The berries are also used to make tea. These are multiple-use plants!
Backyard birders will enjoy junipers in their yards as well. The shrubby but open growth form is excellent perching, staging, and nesting habitat. The berries are a favorite food of songbirds and game birds, including eastern bluebirds, wild turkeys, and grouse.
How to Use Juniper Shrubs for Landscaping
Junipers add gorgeous year-round color to your property. They can also be used to provide a privacy windbreak or visual screen. Their evergreen branches can be pruned to a formal shape or left open and airy.
Use a line of junipers to informally ‘fence off’ your property line or to anchor a perennial bed with all-season color. They are flammable, so take care if you live in a high wildfire danger area.
Planting Juniper Shrubs
Plant junipers like other shrubs. Begin by digging a hole as deep as the root ball but several feet wide. The hole should look like a saucer, not a coffee cup. When backfilling the soil, the shrub should be at the same height as it was in the container. Don’t bury it or perch it.
Water it well and mulch around and under the branches. Keep up with the mulch as the years go by to keep your junipers looking neat and tidy.
How Tall Do Junipers Grow?
Juniper shrubs vary wildly when it comes to their sizes. Some grow straight up with little width while others grow wide and cover a large area. Blue Rug Juniper Shrubs and Blue Pacific Juniper Shrubs are examples of “groundcover” junipers that will not grow taller than 1 or 2 feet at full maturity. On the flip side, if you’re shopping for height, the Torulosa Juniper Shrub is the best pick, growing 12 to 15 feet tall at full size.
Eastern red cedars can be more than 20 feet tall, but most landscaping junipers will be 4-8 feet high. Junipers are typically cultivated to be either upright in form, or serve as a groundcover. The shorter junipers will spread wide and make fantastic, low-maintenance plants for slopes and hard-to-water areas.
How Fast Do Juniper Shrubs Grow?
Juniper shrub growth rates are similarly variant due to their unique sizes from plant to plant. Most juniper shrubs grow at a slow rate, expanding only 4 to 8 inches over the course of a year. Keep in mind that this growth is not often “vertical,” with many juniper shrubs growing wide rather than tall.
Do Deer Eat Juniper Shrubs?
Junipers will mostly be avoided by deer, with many juniper shrubs being designated as deer resistant. The Blue Rug Juniper Shrub and the Old Gold Juniper Shrub are two examples of deer resistant shrubs that will deter deer from eating any other treats in your garden.
Are Juniper Shrub Berries Edible?
While most juniper berries are non-toxic, they are not the type of berries that are often picked and eaten by the handful, as their taste is mostly bitter. Grey Owl Juniper Shrubs and Parsoni Juniper Shrubs each produce a small amount of these fruit each season. Most of the time, only a few berries are used at a time in recipes for very specific flavoring, so we recommend looking at our other fruit and nut plants if you’re interested in growing your own food. Birds, however, love to snack on fresh juniper berries, so these shrubs are great for wildlife enthusiasts.
Juniper Growing Zones
Many junipers are extremely cold-hardy, like the Andorra Juniper, which can survive in USDA zone 3. Most are tolerant in zones 4-8 or 4-9. There is likely a juniper that will grow wherever you live in the lower 48.
Fertilizer & Watering Junipers
Once established, junipers should not need any supplemental fertilization or watering. They are adapted to lean soils and dry conditions.
Provide water during the first several months after planting while the shrub’s root system is settling in.
How and When to Prune Junipers
Junipers do not need much pruning. In fact, they will be OK with no attention at all. However, you can remove dead, broken, or crossing branches in spring to keep them looking a bit nicer. Short, groundcover types should need no pruning at all.
Heavy shearing and shaping may interfere with berry production, but a snip here and there will be fine.
Browse our selection of juniper shrubs for sale and find one that suits your garden today.