By: Teo Spengler
Juniper (Juniperus spp), with its feathery evergreen foliage, can work well in the garden in various capacities: as a groundcover, a privacy screen or a specimen plant. If you live in a warmer region like zone 9, you’ll still find many types of junipers to plant. Read on for information on growing juniper in zone 9.
So many types of juniper exist that you are sure to find at least one perfect for your zone 9 garden. The types available in commerce range from low-growing junipers (about ankle height) to upright specimens as tall as trees.
Short types of juniper serve well as groundcover and also offer erosion control on slopes. Medium size juniper shrubs, about knee-height, are good foundation plants, while tall and extra-tall types of juniper make good screens, windbreaks or specimens in your garden.
You’ll find many types of juniper plants for zone 9. In fact, most junipers qualify as zone 9 junipers. When you want to start growing juniper in zone 9, you’ll have to make some difficult choices between excellent plants.
Bar Harbor juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Bar Harbor’) is among the most popular short juniper plants for zone 9. It’s great for ornamental ground cover with blue-green foliage that turns purple in winter.
If you prefer that your zone 9 junipers have silvery foliage, consider Youngstown juniper
(Juniperus horizontalis ‘Plumo’). It is also a short juniper with low, trailing branches.
For junipers about as tall as you are, you might like Grey Owl (Juniperus virginiana ‘Grey Owl’). The silver-green foliage is lovely, and these zone 9 junipers spread wider than they are tall.
If you want to start growing juniper in zone 9 but are thinking of a privacy screen or hedge, consider large or extra-large species. You’ll have many to choose between. For example, California juniper (Juniperus californica) grows to about 15 feet (4.6 m.) tall. Its foliage is blue green and very drought resistant.
Gold juniper (Juniperus virginianum ‘Aurea’) is another plant to consider when you are growing juniper in zone 9. It has golden foliage that forms a tall, loose pyramid up to 15 feet (4.6 m.) tall.
For even taller types of juniper, look at Burkii juniper (Juniperus virginiana ‘Burkii’). These grow in upright pyramids to 20 feet (6 m.) tall and offer blue-green foliage.
Or how about Alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana) with bark as unique as its common name? The tree bark is patterned like the checkered skin of an alligator. It grows up to 60 feet (18 m.) high.
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The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto
The junipers include roughly 60 different species of trees and shrubs in the Juniperus genus, within the cypress (Cupressaceae) family of plants. Although come junipers use the work cedar in their common names, these plants are not members of the Cedrus genus. The leaves of these evergreen conifers usually take the form of flattened scales in the mature plants, though they may be needle-like in juvenile plants. Most junipers offer at least some level of drought resistance, making them a good choice in more arid climates, though precautions should be taken in areas prone to wildfires.
Many species are dioecious, meaning that plants produce male or female parts, but not both. It is generally the female plants that produce colorful berries, which are actually modified cones. The berry/cones of the common juniper (Juniperus communis) provide the flavoring for gin. Juniper fruits can also be used as a spice in cooking, and they are very attractive to many birds and other forms of wildlife.
Junipers have a resinous sap that is quite combustible. This is not a species to plant in mass within dense residential areas where there is an ongoing danger of wildfires. They can, however, be an excellent choice as specimen plantings for rocky outcroppings where there is little combustible material in the immediate area.
Here are 12 species of sun-loving juniper trees.
Low-growing junipers, ranging in height from a few inches to about 2 feet, make good ground cover plants. They spread easily to control erosion on a slope or to cover an area with poor soil. "Wilton" (Juniperus horizontalis "Wilton") grows only 6 inches high and spreads out 6 to 8 feet. "Wilton" has silver-blue foliage and grows well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 10. "Nana" (Juniperus procumbens "Nana") is a more compact plant, growing 1 to 2 feet high and wide. "Nana" has soft blue-green foliage and thrives in USDA zones 7 through 11. Another low-growing juniper, "Shore Juniper" (Juniperus conferta "Shore Juniper") grows well in sandy, poor soils in USDA zones 5 through 10, reaching 12 to 15 inches tall and spreading 8 feet, with golden-green foliage.
No tree or shrub is completely immune to insect or disease attack, but you can reduce pest issues:
The following is a list of just some of the evergreens suitable for Minnesota landscapes. Be sure to visit your local garden center or plant nursery for more that may be available in your area.
Red pine (Pinus resinosa): 80 feet tall by 40 feet wide, medium growth rate, upright form, full sun the state tree of Minnesota. Also called Norway pine
Tannenbaum Mugo pine (Pinus mugo var. uncinata 'Tannenbaum'): 12 feet tall by 6 feet wide, slow growth rate, compact pyramidal form, full sun
Norway spruce (Picea abies): 80 feet tall by 30 feet wide, medium-to-fast growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun
Russian cypress (Microbiota decussata): 1 foot tall by 4 feet wide, slow growth rate, low spreading form, full sun to full shade
Weeping white spruce (Picea glauca ‘Pendula’): 50 feet tall by 10 feet wide, slow growth rate, vertical form, full sun, drooping branches
Fastigiata spruce (Picea pungens var. glauca 'Fastigiata'): 15 feet tall by 3 feet wide, slow growing, narrow columnar form, full sun
Concolor fir (Abies concolor): 60 feet tall by 24 feet wide, slow-to-medium growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun, blue foliage - good substitute for Colorado blue spruce
Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa): 70 feet tall by 40 feet wide, medium growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun
Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris): 50 feet tall by 30 feet wide, slow-to-medium growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun
Eastern White pine (Pinus strobus): 80 feet tall by 40 feet wide, medium growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun to part sun
Balsam fir (Abies balsamea): 60 feet tall by 24 feet wide. slow growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun to part shade
Black Hills spruce (Picea glauca var. densata): 40 feet tall by 35 feet wide, slow growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun to part sun
Globe Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Woodwardii’): 6 feet tall by 8 feet wide, slow-to-medium growth rate, rounded form, full sun to part shade
Techny Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Techny’): 15 feet tall by 15 feet wide, slow-to-medium growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun to part shade
Canada hemlock (Tsuga canadensis): 40 feet tall by 25 feet wide, medium growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun
Savin juniper (Juniperus sabina ‘Savin’): 6 feet tall by 5 feet wide - slow growth rate, 5 feet tall by 10 feet wide, compact, upright form, full sun
Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopularum): 15 tall by 8 feet wide, slow growth rate, conical, upright form, full sun
Austrian pine (Pinus nigra) - 40 feet tall by 45 feet wide, medium growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziensii not a true fir) - 60 feet tall by 35 feet wide, medium growth rate, pyramidal form, full sun
Wilton Carpet juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’) - 1 foot tall by 6 feet wide, slow-to-medium growth rate, spreading form, full sun, blue-green foliage
Prince of Wales juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Prince of Wales’) - 1 foot tall by 5 feet wide, slow-to-medium growth rate, spreading form, full sun
Green Sargent juniper (Juniperus chinensis sargentii ‘Viridis’) - slow-to-medium growth rate, 2 feet tall by 8 feet wide, spreading form, full sun
Sea Green juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Sea green’) - 6 feet tall by 6 feet wide, slow to medium growth rate, arching, spreading form, full sun, bright green year round
Old Gold juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Old Gold’) - 3 feet tall by 5 feet wide, slow growth rate, spreading form, new growth is golden yellow, full sun
Japanese Spreading yew (Taxus cuspidata) - 5 feet tall by 6 feet wide, slow growth rate, large spreading form, part sun to full shade
Japanese Dwarf yew (Taxus cuspidata ‘Nana’) - 3 feet tall by 5 feet wide, slow growth rate, pyramidal, rounded form, part sun to full shade
Taunton Spreading yew (Taxus x media ‘Tauntonii’) - 4 feet tall by 6 feet wide, slow growth rate, spreading form, full sun to full shade
P.J.M. rhododendron (Rhododendron ‘P.J.M.’) - 5 feet tall by 5 feet wide, slow to medium growth rate, upright rounded form, part sun
Purple Gem rhododendron (Rhododendron X ‘Purple Gem’) - 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide, slow growth rate, compact rounded form, part shade
Chicagoland Green® Boxwood (Buxus ‘Glencoe’) - 4 feet tall by 5 feet wide, slow growth rate, oval broad form that sheared for hedge and topiary, full sun to part shade
Wintergreen Littleleaf boxwood (Buxus microphylla ‘Wintergreen’) - 2 feet tall by 3 feet wide, slow growth rate, upright and spreading form that can be sheared, copper winter foliage, full sun
|Botanical Name||Common Name||Height||Comments|
|Arctostaphylos uva-ursi||common bearberry||6-12"||Prostrate native shrub with small, thick persistent leaves small red berries may be hard to find at garden centers.|
|Bergenia cordifolia||pig squeak, bergenia||12-18"||Bronze/red winter foliage often tattered and brown by spring early spring pink flowers.|
|Buxus microphylla koreana||Korean boxwood||2-4'||Hardy good for low hedges and knot gardens deep-green fine-textured foliage persists throughout winter prefers well-drained soil protect from winter sun and wind 'Green Velvet' and 'Wintergreen' are good dwarf varieties.|
|Daphne x burkwoodii||'Carol Mackie' daphne||2-3'||Officially rated as USDA Zone 5 beautiful specimen plant provide winter protection often shortlived but well worth it.|
|Euonymus fortunei vegeta||bigleaf wintercreeper||under 1'||Can be grown as a groundcover, small shrub, or trained to a wall flowers insignificant needs protection from winter sun do not plant where it can escape into a native area.|
|Kalmia latifolia||mountain laurel||3-5'||Marginally hardy in Zone 4 attractive, leathery dark green leaves are maroon when emerging from the snow in spring needs moist acidic site 'Sarah' has large pinkish-red flowers.|
|Microbiota decussata||Russian cyprus||1' x 6'||Low radiating arborvitae-like evergreen shrub fan-like foliage changes from light green in spring to deep green in summer and bronze-brown in winter.|
|Pachysandra terminalis||Japanese spurge||6-12"||Attractive whorls of evergreen foliage good for under maple and other trees 'Green Carpet' and 'Variegata' are common varieties needs winter cover from sun and wind.|
|Rhododendron 'P.J.M.'||PJM rhododendron||3-5'||Prefer acidic soil tolerates light shade lavender pink flowers in early spring hardy to -35ºF.|
|Yucca filamentosa||yucca||30"||Bold focal point leaves are pointed and very sharp drought and salt tolerant flowers up to 5' tall.|
|Vinca minor||myrtle, periwinkle||6-12"||Attractive thick foliage showy blue flowers in spring creeping stolons.|
Jeffrey Gillman, Jane P. McKinnon, Deborah L. Brown and Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator
The juniper family (Juniperus spp.) consists of 50 to 60 species of evergreen shrubs and trees, sometimes producing cones. This rugged group of plants can grow in almost any climate, from U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 3 to 9, depending on the cultivar. Generally, if a plant looks healthy, it does not require fertilization. But most junipers benefit from a dose of fertilizer at planting and annually or biannually thereafter.
Work 2 teaspoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer into the planting site after the danger of frost passes in spring. Instead of placing it directly in the planting hole, scatter it over the top of the site and work it into the top 6 inches of the soil before digging the hole.
Water your juniper deeply after planting, extending the water flow out to the edge of the roots. This will both settle air pockets around the plant and settle the fertilizer into the soil.
Scatter 1/2 pound of complete fertilizer, such as 10-8-6, 16-4-8 or 12-4-8, per 100 square feet annually before growth begins in spring, beginning in the second season of growth. Keep it 6 to 12 inches away from the trunk to minimize burn, and scatter it out to the edge of the canopy. Water deeply over the fertilizer to settle it into the soil.
Repeat the fertilizer application annually in midsummer, starting in the second season, ensuring that the juniper is well-watered before you do so. Drought-stressed trees do not respond well to fertilizer. Do not fertilizer beyond summer as the juniper needs time to harden off for winter.