Common Junipers (Juniperus communis) are exquisite landscaping plants that can add color and texture to any yard. They are extremely popular and numerous varieties have been created to celebrate their diversity. You can find types of common junipers that grow into 15-foot tall columnar trees, while others grow less than a foot tall as low lying shrubs. Their foliage can vary from a deep blue-green tone to a bright golden yellow hue.
In this article, we will show you 11 of the best common juniper varieties you can add to your front yard or backyard. We’ll give you brief facts about their form, color, and how to use them for landscaping. Let’s start with growing tips and care for common junipers.
How to Grow and Care for Common Junipers in the Landscape
Common junipers are adaptable to almost any type of soil. They can even be grown in poor-quality and/or rocky soils. The pH of the soil can either be slightly acidic or slightly basic, from 4.0 to 8.0. As long as the soil allows for good water drainage, common junipers will adapt and thrive.
When it comes to watering, common junipers aren’t too picky. They will grow well in moderate moisture conditions and can tolerate drought once they’re established. Common junipers rarely require any supplemental water when grown in their native range. Waterlogged soils will lead to root issues for common junipers. When planting trees or bushes in clay rich soil, make sure to provide some ways of absorbing excess water, otherwise, the leaves will turn yellow. I recommend placing pine tree bark on the bottom of the planting hole.
Common junipers will grow best when planted where they will receive full sunlight. They grow best when given 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. They can tolerate partial shade but may not grow as quickly or reach full size. Common junipers won’t survive long-term in full shade settings.
Temperature & Humidity Considerations
Common junipers are cold tolerant, with most varieties being able to withstand temperatures down to -49 degrees Fahrenheit. While native Juniperus communis can be grown from USDA hardiness zone 2 through 8, most cultivars shouldn’t be planted south of zone 7. Below zone 7, temperature and humidity levels can go above what common junipers are able to handle.
Common junipers, like most junipers, are considered to be light feeders which don’t need any additional fertilizer. If you want to fertilize your common juniper, wait until it is well established first. You can then add a 10-10-10 tree and shrub slow-release fertilizer near the end of winter or in early spring when new growth begins.
Most common juniper species keep their beautiful shape without the need for pruning. Pruning is typically only needed to remove dead or damaged branches. However, some species can be pruned into topiaries. If you choose to prune your common juniper, wait until the end of winter when the lowest temperatures of the year have passed.
Insect Pest Issues
Insects that commonly impact junipers include bagworms, midges, mites, scales, and twig borers. However, it isn’t normal for any of these insect pests to cause enough damage to plants to warrant any serious concerns.
Unlike many juniper species, juniper blight doesn’t tend to impact common junipers very often. Other diseases that can infect common junipers include cedar-apple rust and wilts. Overall, as long as common junipers are not planted in water-logged soil or climates with high heat and humidity, they usually don’t have any serious disease issues.
11 Popular Common Juniper Varieties And Their Landscape Uses
Juniperus communis ‘Berkshire’, also called Berkshire common juniper, is a dwarf variety of the common juniper. It forms dense, flattened mounds of foliage that slowly reaches a mature size of about 12 inches tall and 1 to 5 feet wide. The foliage is a lovely blue-green hue. In colder climates, the foliage takes on a purplish color during the winter months (see image below).
Berkshire common junipers can be a wonderful addition to your yard’s landscape. Due to their slow growth, they can be used to line walkways in your front yard or around your porch. They can also be placed alongside existing plants to fill space and add year-round color without overcrowding their neighbors. Their slow growth makes them less than ideal for erosion control on slopes.
Blueberry Delight Or AmDak
The Blueberry Delight juniper is often sold under the name Juniperus communis var. depressa ‘AmDak’. It is a cultivar of the ‘Depressa’ variety that gets its name from the copious amounts of tiny blue fruits it produces each year as seen in the photo below. The foliage is a brilliant shade of dark green with a tiny stripe of silvery blue down each needle. The needles take on a copper tone during the winter months.
This slow-growing cultivar reaches about 1 foot tall by up to 5 feet wide. It does not handle high temperatures and humidity well, growing best in USDA hardiness zone 3. When it comes to landscaping, you can create a mass planting of Blueberry Delight junipers by planting them about 2 feet apart in groups. They also work well as border plants in flower beds or along paths.
Juniperus communis ‘Compressa’ is commonly called Noah’s Ark juniper or Pencil Point juniper. This shrub has dense, silvery blue green foliage that grows into a tightly packed, columnar shape. It is tolerant of cold, heat, and humidity, though harsher conditions can prevent it from reaching full size. Under ideal conditions, it can reach a height of 5 to 6 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.
The small compact form of this juniper variety makes it perfect for adding height to small backyard gardens. It grows very well in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 6. ‘Compressa’ can also be successfully grown in large pots. You can place them on either side of the entryway in your front yard. When grown in containers, it typically doesn’t grow taller than 3 feet. They can even be pruned into striking topiaries as seen below.
Juniperus communis ‘Depressa Aurea’ also goes by Juniperus communis var. depressa ‘Aurea’ and is commonly called golden flat juniper. It is a cultivar of the depressa variety which is prized for its stunning golden foliage. The golden needles can turn green over time.
The golden flat juniper handles cold temperatures well but is not suited for climates with high heat and humidity. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 6. It can grow up to 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
This juniper variety works well as a ground cover due to its low growing form. It can add interest to the landscape with its golden new growth emerging in spring. ‘Depressa Aurea’ can be used as an edging plant or grown on sloping terrain to provide erosion control in the landscape.
The common juniper ‘Effusa’ is another low-lying variety with interesting foliage. New foliage emerges with a cinnamon-brown color, as seen below, changing to a bright green as it matures. It can grow up to 18 inches tall and 6 feet wide. This variety does not tolerate heat or humidity well, growing best in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 6.
‘Effusa’ is best used as a ground cover plant or shrub in the landscape. It can be planted along borders or on slopes to help with erosion control.
The gold cone juniper, Juniperus communis ‘Gold Cone’, is a columnar shrub species with amazing golden foliage. New growth emerges in spring adding a burst of gold to your landscape that lasts into fall. It requires full sunlight to develop optimal foliage color. ‘Gold Cone’ will grow from 3 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide. They do well when planted in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 7.
When landscaping, this variety works well as a foundation plant, meaning it can be grown near the house, under windows, or beside doors. It can be planted in rows to add some privacy to your backyard. You can also grow ‘Gold Cone’ in containers on the patio or porch to liven them up.
As the name would suggest, Juniperus communis ‘Green Carpet’ is a low-lying shrub that spreads across the ground forming a “carpet” as it grows. Green carpet juniper reaches a height of 6 inches and spreads up to 3 feet. New growth has a bright green color that changes to dark green as it matures. It performs best when planted in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 6.
Green carpet juniper is often used in rock garden landscapes where it flourishes. It also works well as a ground cover plant along edges or to help with soil erosion on slopes.
Juniperus communis ‘Hibernica’, also known as Irish juniper, grows as a shrub or small tree with a slim, columnar shape. It can reach a mature size of 5 to 15 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. It grows well in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9.
Juniper ‘Hibernica’ makes works splendidly along fence lines, sidewalks, or delineating certain areas of your yard or garden. It can also be used to create a living privacy screen in your backyard. In the landscape, it also works well as a backdrop plant for flower beds with its evergreen foliage.
The common juniper ‘Miniature’ is a dwarf shrub variety with a pyramidal shape. It can grow up to 3 feet tall and 18 inches wide. Its evergreen foliage has a bluish hue to it and provides texture to the landscape. You can plant Juniperus communis ‘Miniature’ in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 6.
In the landscape, the ‘Miniature’ common juniper can be used in beds to add height to the design. It can also be used as a border plant along paths. You can also plant it in containers to add interest to porches and patios. It also works well when planted in Zen and fairy gardens, or can be pruned into a beautiful bonsai tree. Lastly, Miniature common junipers are delightful foundation plants for your front yard flowerbeds since they won’t grow to tall.
The common juniper ‘Repanda’ is a low-growing plant with dark green foliage. The foliage can take on a slight yellow hue during winter. It grows up to 16 inches tall and can spread up to 5 feet wide. It achieves optimal growth in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 9.
Due to its mat-forming growth, ‘Repanda’ works well as a ground cover and can help with erosion control. It can also be used as an edging plant around flower beds and walkways in your front yard or backyard.
Photo Credit: Earth & Jungle
The ‘Sentinel’ common juniper is a narrow, pyramidal variety with lush green foliage. They can grow up to 10 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Juniperus communis ‘Sentinel’ will maintain its pencil tip form with little to no pruning. They can be used as landscape plants in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 6.
These desirable plants can be used in the landscape to add height to the garden. They can also be used to create a privacy screen to create a secluded patio oasis. These tall, slender shrubs can also be used as foundation plants around the house in the front yard or near entryways.
Brand, M.H. (n.d.). Juniperus communis. Plant Database, University of Connecticut College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.
Breen, P. (n.d.). Juniperus communis. Landscape Plants, Oregon State University.
Juniperus communis. (n.d.). Missouri Botanical Garden.
Juniperus communis. (n.d.). North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox, North Carolina State University.