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Home Plants Trees and Shrubs JUNIPERS IN THE LANDSCAPE
Written by NC State University   

Junipers are grown all across North Carolina, in just about every landscape situation: around ski villages at Beech Mountain or around ocean-front cottages on Bald Head Island. There are over 170 species and varieties being grown by American nurserymen. North Carolinians typically choose certain junipers found in the species J. chinensis, J. horizontalis, J. sabina, J. communis, J. procumbens, J. conferta, and of course, J. virginiana - commonly known as Red Cedar.

The junipers are all evergreen, with needle-like or scale-like foliage. The color of the foliage will vary from dark to light green, blue to silver, and several yellow and gold colored cultivars are also available. Junipers are deciduous - the male flowers are on one plant while the female (berry-producing) flowers are on another.


Landscape Use

Junipers are popular because of their numerous design characteristics: form, size, color and texture. Low growing junipers can be used as groundcovers, foundation plantings, or specimen plants in rock gardens. Taller growing plants are excellent for screens, hedges or windbreaks.



The one common likeness found with junipers is their extreme tolerance to adverse conditions. As stated earlier, junipers can grow from the mountains (Zone 5) to the coast (Zone 9), and everywhere in between.

Junipers generally enjoy full sun and good drainage. They will grow in a variety of soils but really do not like wet feet (especially Shore Juniper). During 'droughty' periods in our typical N.C. summers, they withstand the heat and dryness much better than most ornamentals.

Junipers do not tolerate severe pruning. This makes it necessary to determine the growth pattern of a particular juniper before planting. The juniper can be 'tip-pruned' and 'thinned' but not cut back to large limbs and expected to rejuvenate itself.

Insect pests would include bagworms, spider mites, leaf miner and aphids, all of which can be controlled with the appropriate pesticide. The following is a partial list of junipers which grow well in North Carolina.

Botanical Name and Common Names             Landscape Remarks

J. chinensis Grows very large and is hardy throughout
CHINESE JUNIPER N.C. Typically, an erect, conical narrow
tree form.
'Hetzii' - (15') upright spreading branches
at 60 angle.
'Kaizuka' (Torulosa) Hollywood
Juniper - very interesting shapes and
forms. Upright, twisting habit.
Excellent specimen plant. Grows to
'Pfitzeriana' - (12') upright spreading at
a 45 angle.
'Pfitzeriana compacta' - (15-18") dwarf
'San Jose' - (24") creeping type, spreads

J. communis Grows to 10-12' with 8-12' spread.
COMMON JUNIPER This juniper does not grow well in eastern
N.C. J. communis has reddish-brown dark
and grey-green foliage. Several cultivars

J. conferta. A favorite ground cover juniper which is
SHORE JUNIPER typically overplanted. Should be set on
5-1/2 to 6' centers instead of 3' centers.
Grows 12-18" high with a 6-8' spread.
'Blue Pacific' - ocean green foliage
'Emerald Sea' - very salt tolerant

J. horizontalis Used mostly as ground cover as it grows to
CREEPING JUNIPERS 2' with 6-8' spread. Many landscape uses
with different cultivars.
'Bar Harbor' - low spreading.
'Plumosa'- upright, spreading to 3'
'Plumosa compacta') in height,
'P.C. Youngstown' ) in winter.
'Procumbens' - (6") very prostrate form.
'Wiltoni' (Blue Rug) - (4-6") prostrate.

J. virginia. Pyramidal tree form (40-50'). Excellent
RED CEDAR gray, exfoliating bark, bluish-green
foliage, blueberries. Trunks make
excellent fence posts, and small trees are
Christmas tree favorites. Many cultivars
available but easily found in native
conditions throughout the state.


M.A. (Kim) Powell
Extension Horticultural Specialist
Department of Horticultural Science
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
North Carolina State University

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