Pfitzer junipers (Juniperus x pfitzeriana) are low-lying, small shrubs that can enhance the beauty of your landscape. Their feather foliage adds textures while their evergreen foliage looks beautiful all year. These plants are super low-maintenance and don’t require input to mature into gorgeous landscape plants.
There are several landscaping uses for these magnificent conifers. Whether you want to liven up your backyard patio with a border or need some foundation plants to improve your home’s curb appeal, consider installing some Pfitzer junipers. We’re sure you’ll be delighted no matter how you decide to use these hardy shrubs.
How Are Pfitzer Juniper Cultivars Named?
If you’re interested in adding Pfitzer junipers to your landscape, you’ll need to understand their name so you can purchase the correct plant. The naming of Pfitzer junipers has quite a confusing history which still causes some mislabeling of plants under the wrong name today.
Pfitzer junipers (Juniperus x pfitzeriana) are a hybrid plant created by crossbreeding Chinese junipers (Juniperus chinensis) and Savin junipers (Juniperus sabina). They were originally given the scientific name Juniperus x media. Botanists later realized the name media had already been used and Pfitzer junipers were then given their current scientific name Juniperus x pfitzeriana.
When looking for Pfitzer junipers to buy, they may still be listed incorrectly under the name Juniperus x media. Some nurseries sell them under the scientific name Juniperus chinensis ‘Pfitzeriana’. They may also be referred to by the common name Pfitzer junipers or Pfitzer group. To ensure you are purchasing a Pfitzer juniper, search for plants that are labeled with the scientific name Juniperus x pfitzeriana.
Since Pfitzer junipers are popular landscape plants, plant enthusiasts have used selective breeding to create many different cultivars. Plant cultivar names such as Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Aurea’ are listed after their scientific name. Each cultivar has unique characteristics such as leaf coloration, mature size, and growth form. Some of the most common cultivar names you will come across include:
- ‘Daub’s Frosted’
- ‘Gold Coast’
- ‘Kallay’s Compact’
- ‘Mint Julep’
- ‘Old Gold’
- ‘Pfitzeriana Aurea’
- ‘Pfitzeriana Compacta’
- ‘Pfitzeriana Glauca’
- ‘Sea Green’
- ‘Sulphur Spray’
- ‘Wilhelm Pfitzer’
How to Grow And Care For Pfitzer Junipers In The Landscape
One reason Pfitzer junipers are such popular landscaping plants is how easy they are to care for. They can be planted in just about any soil type, including sandy and rocky soils provided they are well-draining. Pfitzer junipers won’t tolerate water-logged soils which can lead to root rot.
Aside from well-drained soil, Pfitzer junipers also need plenty of sunlight to grow well. They need full sun conditions with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Fertilizing them once a year in early spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer will encourage optimal growth.
When it comes to climate, Pfitzer junipers grow best in USDA hardiness zones 4A through 9B. When grown under the right conditions, they rarely have any serious insect or disease issues. If they become stressed due to overwatering or lack of sunlight, Pfitzer junipers are susceptible to cedar-apple rust, needle blight, root rot, tip blight, and twig blight.
6 Landscaping Ideas Using Pfitzer Juniper Shrubs
1. Create Ground Covers For Flower Beds
Image credit: F. D. Richards
Ground cover plants are a staple in many landscape designs. They add texture to the landscape and can reduce the overall landscape maintenance your yard requires. As low-lying plants like Pfitzer junipers grow, they block out sunlight which can help reduce weed growth in your flower beds. That means you’ll spend less time pulling weeds in your garden as these gorgeous plants spread out.
Several Pfitzer juniper cultivars are perfect to use as ground cover plants. Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Daub’s Frosted’ is one such cultivar. ‘Daub’s Frosted’ only grows to about 2 feet tall but will spread up to 6 feet wide as it trails across the ground. Add it to front yard flower beds where it will fill in areas between other plants beautifully. Its bright yellow-green foliage pairs well with purple accent plants such as Loropetalum.
2. Use Around Trees As Living Mulch
Another way to add Pfitzer junipers to your landscape is by planting them around the base of trees. Whether you have accent trees planted in the middle of your front yard, or a shade tree growing over the patio in your backyard, consider adding a few Pfitzer junipers around them. They will act as a living mulch, helping the soil retain moisture.
TIP: Since junipers require plenty of sunlight, it’s best not to plant them right up against the trunk of trees. Instead, plant them a few feet out from the tree to ensure they still get enough sunlight.
3. Use as Foundation Plants
Pfitzer Junipers make ideal foundation plants you can place around the perimeter of your home. They don’t have invasive roots, so you don’t have to worry about them damaging the foundation. Most cultivars don’t grow taller than 3 to 5 feet tall allowing them to be used under windows. In the backyard, you can also plant Pfitzer junipers around the base of raised decks where they will hide the unsightly area below.
TIP: Make sure you space your junipers correctly to avoid issues as they mature. They should be placed 4 to 6 feet apart to provide enough space for them to spread without competing with one another.
4. Edge Walkways And Patios
Pfitzer junipers make ideal edging plants for either front yard walkways or backyard patios. Their low-growing, spreading foliage fills in around borders beautifully. The evergreen vegetation of junipers will keep your yard looking vibrant year-round. Choose a cultivar that has complementing colors for your existing landscape plants. There are golden, blue-green, and even gray-green options available.
TIP: If you want a clean, well-manicured edge you can prune off the branch tips. For a more natural look, let them grow naturally to create a more feathered edge appearance.
5. Prevent Erosion On Hillsides
If you’ve got sloping terrain in your yard, the easiest way to prevent soil erosion is by planting ground cover shrubs. Sure, you can use pine straw to prevent erosion but it requires constant replacement and upkeep.
Pfitzer junipers on the other hand are a much more low-maintenance way to cover slopes in the long run. Whether you have a drainage slope in the backyard or a hill in your front yard, plant Pfitzer junipers on them to help keep the soil in place.
6. Use Compact Shrubs As Accent Plants
Pfitzer junipers aren’t often thought of as accent plants but their feathery evergreen foliage can be used as a stunning centerpiece in a landscape design. You can add a pop of golden color to front yard flower beds with cultivars like ‘Gold Coast’ or a splash of blue around your backyard porch with cultivars like ‘Glauca’. When pruned, Pfitzer junipers will become more compact and shrub-like instead of spreading.
TIP: Make sure you surround them with plants that don’t grow taller than 2 feet. That will ensure your Pfitzer juniper gets to be the star of the show.
Breen, P. (n.d.). Juniperus chinensis ‘Pfitzeriana’. Landscape Plants, Oregon State University.
North Carolina Extension Gardener Tool Box. (n.d.). Juniperus x pfitzeriana. North Carolina State University Extension.