Although the original species (Juniperus chinensis) is a medium to large tree, you won’t find these trees in garden centers and nurseries. Instead, you’ll find Chinese juniper shrubs and small trees which are cultivars of the original species. Plant taller varieties as screens and hedges and use them in shrub borders. Low-growing varieties serve as foundation plants and ground covers, and they work well in perennial borders.
Caring for Chinese Juniper
Chinese junipers prefer moist, well-drained soil, but they will adapt almost anywhere as long as they get plenty of sun. They tolerate drought better than excessively wet conditions. Keep the soil evenly moist until the plants become established. Once they begin to grow, they are practically carefree.
You can reduce the maintenance even more by reading the mature plant measurements on the plant tag and choosing a variety that fits the space. They have a lovely natural shape and will not need pruning unless crowded into a space that is too small. They don’t look as nice when pruned, and won’t tolerate severe pruning.
Chinese Juniper Ground Covers
Many of the Chinese juniper ground cover varieties are crosses between J. chinensis and J. sabina. The most popular varieties for this purpose grow only 2 to 4 feet tall and spread 4 feet wide or more.
If you plan on growing a Chinese juniper plant as a ground cover, look for one of these cultivars:
- ‘Procumbens,’ or Japanese garden juniper, grows two feet tall with a spread of up to 12 feet. The stiff horizontal branches are covered with blue-green, wispy-looking foliage.
- ‘Emerald Sea’ and ‘Blue Pacific’ are members of a group called Shore Junipers. They grow 12 to 18 inches tall with a spread of 6 feet or more. Their salt tolerance makes them a very popular seaside plant.
- ‘Gold Coast’ grows 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It has unusual, gold-tinted foliage.