February: Groundcover Junipers

Junipers come in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors. The one thing that unites them all is year-round color and rugged winter hardiness. Today we're focusing on low-growing, spreading junipers that we'll lump together as a group and refer to as groundcover junipers.

 Alpina Creeping Juniper has a blue tinge to it.  By W.Baumgartner - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Alpina Creeping Juniper has a blue tinge to it.
By W.Baumgartner - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The two main kinds of groundcover junipers are Juniperus horizontalis, which is native to Canada and the northern U.S., and Juniperus procumbens, which is native to Japan. Both like sunny, rocky locations, and they are sometimes hybridized to create new varieties. They are available in shades of grey, blue, and emerald green in a range of heights. They are perfect for filling in rock gardens or dry raised beds. They require little to no maintenance - typically just watering during the first season or two, and keeping the edges contained if you want them to stay in a specific area. If they are in soggy soils they can develop root rots, and when they are under stress they can become susceptible to some insect pests.

 Nana Japanese Garden Juniper  By SEWilco - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Nana Japanese Garden Juniper
By SEWilco - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Common Name: Creeping Juniper, Japanese Garden Juniper
Scientific Name: Juniperus horizontalis, Juniperus procumbens, Juniperus hybrids and varieties
Notable Varieties: 
Light: full sun to light shade
Size: 4-24" tall, 12-48" wide (depends on variety)
Soil: well-drained soil, tolerates dry and rocky conditions once established
Blooms: none
Other Notes: tolerant of poor soils as long as they have good drainage, evergreen

See other plants of the month.


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