Juniper 101: Discover The Basics of Juniper Shrubs

Juniper 101: Discover The Basics of Juniper Shrubs

From landscape to landscape, Juniper Shrubs provide a defined structure and a fresh fragrance that few other bushes can match fully. 

More and more, we have seen these bushes take their place in landscapes and it’s time for you to join in on the gardening fun!

About Juniper Shrubs

Junipers are some of the most known evergreen shrubs grown in landscapes. If you have yet to properly identify one when taking a walk on a Sunday morning, these shrubs are coniferous plants and members of the cypress family that can range from wide and low-growing to tall and slender. 

Their foliage can be anywhere in between light to dark green, blue to silver and even yellow to gold. Normally, the leaves are short and tough like evergreen needles, but more with a fork shape. 

Some will produce fruits that resemble berries -- most famous for flavoring gin and other foods-- while others will produce cones instead. Years ago, American Indian tribes would use the Juniper leaves as a medicine tactic for arthritis, coughing, infections, and more!

A unique feature of Juniper Shrubs is that they are dioecious, which simply means that each individual plant is either male or female, but not both. This causes them to flower differently!

Even with all these above fun facts, we have not even begun to dive into the most common favorite feature of Juniper Shrubs-- their scent. From cedar and incense to lemons and apples, Juniper bushes can envelop a room with fresh aromas. 

Most commonly, a few branches of Junipers are used around the holidays year after year for garlands and wreaths. The sweet, woody fragrance will leave your house smelling fresh for weeks

It’s no wonder that they are a gardener’s favorite!

Which Juniper Shrub Should I Grow?

The possibilities of choosing a Juniper almost seems endless-- so much so that here at Nature Hills, we can’t just grow one, we opt for growing a multitude instead. 

In fact, there are over 170 different cultivated varieties ranging from ground covers and edge plants to shrubs and trees. Even select from a variety of shapes including narrow columns, rounded forms and tight pyramids!

Depending on your landscaping needs and wants, the Junipers of your choice will differ! To make it easy on you, we’ve hand-selected a few of our top notch Juniper Bushes to highlight below. 

The Blueberry Delight

Blueberry Delight

The Blueberry Delight Juniper Bush (Juniperus communis var. depressa ‘AmDak’) is a known native selection that provides an evergreen accent year-round.

This tough specimen is drought tolerant, low maintenance, extremely hardy and grows in Zones 3 through 8. All it really needs is well-draining soil. 

It prefers the hot, full sun, but plant it in dry conditions, cold temperatures and even in rocky soils too. 

It will still show off its dark green needles that hold a silvery-blue pinstripe! 

We like to style this ornamental evergreen as a low-growing groundcover in front of a couple windows. It is sure to attract a few of the local songbirds that you can watch from the comfort of your home while sipping tea mid-morning. 

Or, if you are needing to place in an effort for erosion control, the Blueberry Delight is your natural solution! Mass plantings do well on slopes. 

When in optimal conditions, the Blueberry Delight can live up to 30 to 40 years! What are you waiting for? Allow this Juniper to grace the landscape for decades to come.

The Blue Rug

Blue Rug Juniper

The Blue Rug (Juniperus horizontalis 'Wiltonii') is considered a ground cover type Juniper Bush, which are excellent for xeriscaping. Normally, you may see this shrub gently spilling over rock walls or larger boulders. 

Do you live in a place that is constantly hot and dry? It may seem that you can’t have the luxury of green, but the Blue Rug is known for creating masses of evergreen foliage even in the dry zones. 

However, it grows in Zones 3 through 9 so the colder zones can enjoy it as well! Not to mention, it’s also drought tolerant, salt tolerant and is able to withstand urban areas. 

Don’t be fooled by the classy silvery, sea-green color it lays, the Blue Rug Juniper is very low-maintenance once properly established. If you’re looking for the perfect ‘spiller plant’-- this one's for you.

The Kallay’s Compact

Kallay's Compact Juniper

The Kallay’s Compact Juniper (Juniperus x pfitzeriana 'Kallay's Compact') is considered a midrange growing type or medium sized, which is great for larger landscaping projects that want mass plantings. 

This shrub can be seen as a barrier plant for the back edges of landscapes or as a backdrop to a colorful perennial garden. 

It grows in Zones 4 through 8 and keeps its silvery-green shade even in full sun. Be on the lookout for feathered friends paying a visit for the blue berries hanging upon this shrub!

Unlike other Junipers, the Kallay’s Compact has needles that are very soft to the touch, making it the ideal specimen for the backyards that always host family events.


The Saybrook Gold

Saybrook Gold Juniper

The Saybrook Gold Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Saybrook Gold') is different from most because of its bright golden foliage. In fact, it’s one of our brightest Junipers yet and will keep its color

 throughout each of the seasons. 

It grows in Zones 4 through 9 and responds well to a small prune here and there. Use it for foundation plantings or as a gleaming low hedge along a fence line. 

Make sure to place it in an area that receives high amounts of sunlight for the best color display. However, it will grow in partial shade too, but at a slower rate.

At first, when this Juniper is added, the needles will be soft to touch. As the shrub grows older, the foliage becomes quite prickly. This feature keeps the deer and other animals from munching on it.

We suggest using the Saybrook Gold as a focal point in rock gardens, walkway borders and even near backyard ponds!

How To Style Them

The large selection and versatility of these shrubs allows each individual garden to be unique. 

Need to fill a tight space around your mailbox? Juniper. Looking to cover a bare area with ground covers? Juniper. Have a border that’s missing a base color? Juniper. 

Pick from numerous design characteristics like: form, size, color, and texture. It’s almost as if you can build your own Juniper Shrub from scratch! 

Low-growing junipers are those that are ground huggers. Normally, they are displayed as foundation plantings or groundcovers. Landscapes like to use these as a replacement for grass in areas that struggle growing it. 

Groundcovers also serve as great filler plants to other flowers, trees and shrubs. Use the evergreen specimen as a background to the focal points within a garden. 

The taller shrubs are excellent for windbreaks, hedges and screens stationed in a line around a property. Create a natural privacy fence or if you already have a fence in place but don’t like the look, place a line of shrubs directly in front for a more eye-pleasing area. 

Shield off a front or back yard from wind gusts by planting a row of taller Junipers as a windbreak too. Your daily outdoor activities will thank you for it!

Other Junipers have a ‘spilling over’ feature to their foliage, which is a fan favorite in containers that are posted on either side of patios, door and walkways. 

As we stated earlier, the solution to every landscaping design is a Juniper -- or a few!

#ProPlantTips For Growing Junipers

Looks like you have decided to grow a Juniper and you are wondering just how to do that. No worries, our plant experts have kindly provided you with a few main #ProPlantTips on growing these shrubs. 


  • Make sure the soil is well-draining.

When it comes to soils, Junipers are only picky when it comes to being well-drained. Otherwise they will grow like normal in rocky, dry, poor, and even clay soil. Really any kind except for poorly drained. 

Don’t have well-draining soil? A simple fix for that is to build the plant area up with additional soils so the plant is on top or use a raised bed that can be easily controlled. 


  • Ideally, pick a location that is in full sun. 

For the best color results, they need full sun. Many kinds of Junipers will have a blue-grey or golden-yellow color that can fade without sunlight. Almost seems opposite of what we are taught!


  • Once established, they are drought tolerant. 

When getting your new bush to adjust to a new home, pay careful attention to the watering details. Rule of thumb is to water frequently in the first 2 years of growth, but afterward it can make do with what nature provides. 

Once it is established properly, it is quite drought tolerant and you can back off on adding additional watering. 


  • Don’t over prune. 

Junipers are not made for excessive pruning; in fact, you should rarely have to prune these bushes. However, if unwanted new growth takes place, slightly prune the branches back in the spring season. 

We suggest using a hand-held pruner and only selectively head backing the longest stems. This keeps the close branches alive and well. 

Juniper Shrubs are a necessity to almost every garden! With countless colors, textures and forms, you are sure to find the one that suits your style. 

Happy planting!

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