Junipers are lovely woody stemmed perennial plants which have been cultivated for hundreds of years for their aromatic berries used to make oils. At home on rocky slopes of mountains, Junipers will thrive in any sunny well-drained spot. Junipers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are easy to grow with minimal requirements for success in the yard.
Junipers are a coniferous plant with up to sixty varieties from tall trees to low growing shrubs. Native to the U.S., many species come from the Rocky Mountains. Junipers have shredded type bark and needle like leaves. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Sizes vary from 120 foot trees to two to three inch ground cover mats. Most junipers require little or no pruning. Foliage color ranges from yellow to green to blue. The wide range of habits and easy growth requirements makes them a valuable asset to the landscape.
The most important tip when growing junipers is to pick a sunny, well-drained site for planting. They require well drained soil to thrive. Junipers will tolerate poor soil conditions and either alkaline or acidic soil but not soggy feet. If the soil where you wish to plant is too heavy peat moss, compost, and/or pea gravel may be dug into the planting hole.
All junipers require full sun. Junipers will withstand hot dry conditions well. This makes smaller varieties ideal for foundation plantings. Some varieties will take partial shade but can become leggy or spindly if they do not receive enough sun. Weeds and other herbaceous plants should be kept pulled back from junipers as foliage resting against juniper branches may turn the branches brown.
Juniper berries are typically white or blue at maturity although a few varieties feature orange to red berries. The plants can be monecious or dioecious. Dioecious varieties require both a female specimen and a male specimen to produce fruit. The female plant carries the fruit bearing flower while the male carries the pollen producing flower. Monecious plants do not require both genders to produce berries. The berries may take one to three years to ripen. Oil from juniper berries is used to flavor gin.
Although junipers are not overly susceptible to insects and diseases there are a few worth mentioning. The most common disease may be Phomopsis blight. The blight is usually not serious but does cause the ends of branches to become brown. The disease is easily controlled by spraying young branches with a fungicide.
During hot weather spider mites can be a problem. These are easily controlled with a mitecide spray. Bagworms are another insect known to attack junipers. These may be removed when young or sprayed with an insecticide. Product labels should be read to find the exact type of fungicide or insecticide needed to control problems.
Junipers are an easy to grow and a welcome addition to the landscape. They will thrive for years in any sunny, well-drained site.
http: //www.junipertrees.com accessed 27 July 2009
http://www.treehelp.com/trees/juniper/index.asp accessed 27 July 2009