Juniper is a member of the Cypress family that is popular as hedging and an ornamental garden plant which has all year colour and interest.
Varieties range from ground hugging bushes of just 6 inches high, to towering trees 130 feet tall!
With colours from steely blue to shimmering gold, there’s a juniper that will suits every garden.
Evergreen juniper trees or juniper bushes grow upright, creeping or horizontally and give off a strong fragrance. Their leaves are needle shaped or scaled, often soft and slightly flattened, but sometimes very pointed.
Juniper flowers are mainly white or pink in colour and very small and inconspicuous.
It’s a very robust plant, which you can plant in just about any location, only shade should be avoided, as they need lots of light to thrive.
Not overly sensitive to drought and heavy soil isn’t a problem, just make sure the soil is well draining by adding sand.
Spring is the best time for planting junipers, but it is also possible to plant in early autumn.
You can also keep the smaller varieties of junipers in pots, such as ‘Compressa’ or ‘Blue Star’.
Juniper tolerates pruning well, although it’s not necessary, it will encourage branching.
Bear in mind that juniper grows slowly, so when pruning, avoid cutting into the old wood, just remove any visibly dead branches in spring and regularly prune back young junipers lightly.
As well as being used as ornamental plants, juniper fruits are used to make gin, essential oils and condiments.
They are also high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory in nature.
If you want to harvest the juniper berries, you’ll need to plant one female and one male plant for fertilisation, as Juniper is dioecious.
Propagation is easy by taking a young slightly woody, but still green at the base shoot, from the main shoot in late summer. As juniper’s ‘remember’ their growth direction, always take a cutting from the main shoot, as a side shoot will not grow straight up after propagation.
Note: some species are poisonous and can cause skin irritation, so always wear gloves when handling.