Common Juniper

The common juniper is a very tolerant shrub.

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Plant type: Conifer
USDA Zone: 2 to 6(7)
(Juniperus communis)

There are an endless number of juniper forms, and no less within this one species itself. The common juniper can be a tree with ascending or outward spreading branches or a low-growing prostrate form. Most of the time, though, the species is a five- to 10-foot shrub that spreads eight to 12 feet wide. Where it occurs naturally, the common juniper has adapted itself to a wide variety of terrain, from rocky outcroppings to dry, calcareous soils where little else grows. It's extremely cold-hardy (to USDA Zone 2), but doesn't hold up to heat the way other junipers do. In Zone 7 or warmer, select another juniper type.

Culture. As tolerant as this shrub is of many different climates and soil types, it does best in full sun and well-drained soil. A reasonably degree of tilth and fertility give the common juniper a bit of edge against juniper blight, to which it's susceptible.

Selected cultivars

  • 'Berkshire'. Grows slowly to one foot tall. Bluish needles turn bronze in winter.
  • 'Gold Beach'. Very dwarf ground hugger with green foliage. New growth is yellow, turning green later in the growing season.
  • 'Gold Cone'. Needles have bright yellow tips.
  • 'Pencil Point'. Extremely narrow for its height--four to five feet tall and only 10 inches wide. Makes a dramatic vertical statement in the garden. Green to dark green.
  • 'Repanda'. Medium green needles turns yellowish green in winter; considered to have the best winter color of the low-growing types.

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