Skip to main content

Your go-to guide for growing juniper trees

If you’re looking for a great shrub for your yard or garden, look no further than juniper! It smells wonderful, looks stately, and the bright blue berries attract birds and other wildlife. Juniper is a great fit for many yards and gardens, especially since it comes in a variety of forms and sizes. How do you plant a juniper tree, though? Once it’s planted, how do you care for it and keep it happy and healthy? We’re going to answer all your juniper care questions, from planting to pruning, here in this simple and straightforward guide.

A cluster of juniper branches with bright blue berries
Sonjavdk / Pixabay

Planting your juniper tree

If you’re transplanting a juniper tree from a container or have gotten a sapling from a nursery, you can plant your tree in spring or fall. However, if it was grown indoors you may need to harden it first, especially if it is still young. You can harden your young plants by transitioning them to outdoors slowly, gradually leaving them outside for longer periods of time.

You can also grow juniper trees from seed. You can start your seeds indoors in a container at any time of the year as long as you can keep them warm and give them plenty of sunlight. If you’d rather start your seeds outdoors, you’ll need to wait until spring.

Person placing a small shrub into a hole in the ground
Liane M//Shutterstock

Basic care requirements

While different varieties may have slightly different preferences, there are a few things you can count on with junipers. Juniper trees are drought tolerant and prefer to dry out a little in between being watered. Be sure to plant them somewhere with well-draining soil. During the first couple years of growth, your juniper may need to be watered during periods of low rainfall. Once it’s fully grown, unless you live in a particularly dry region, your juniper will likely be able to get all the water it needs from rain.

Plant your juniper where it will be in full or mostly full sun. If you’re growing your juniper indoors, position it near a southern exposure window where it will get the most sun. You may need to supplement it with a grow light during winter. Junipers are not picky when it comes to soil type, but they do best in slightly acidic soils. They also don’t need pruning except on rare occasions, such as after an intense storm or in the case of a disease or fungal infection.

Juniper branches, needles, and berries are mildly toxic to dogs, cats, and people. However, pets typically don’t eat the plant as it smells bitter and unpleasant. The berries can be attractive to small children. Poisonings from juniper are rarely fatal, though, and usually result in an upset stomach. It is still a good idea to contact poison control if you notice your child has eaten juniper berries, or if your child becomes ill and you suspect juniper berries are the cause.

A juniper tree with dark brown branches, green needles, and blue berries
Wal_172619/Pixabay

Common problems and how to fix them

The most common problem with junipers is overwatering. Juniper trees are very tolerant of droughts, but the trade off for this is that they are not tolerant of constant moisture. This can be a problem if you live somewhere with frequent, heavy rains. If the overwatering is a product of human error, the solution is simple: Just adjust your watering schedule and allow your juniper to dry out. If the issue is caused by the weather, your options are more limited. If there aren’t any other plants directly next to you tree, you can secure a tarp around the base to keep some of the rain from soaking into the soil. Just remember to remove the tarp after the storm, so that the water that did get into the soil can evaporate properly!

A small juniper bush next to several blue and pink hyacinth. They are planted next to a stone walkway.
Gorlov KV/Shutterstock

Incorporating them into your garden

Juniper can pair well with any plant that has the same general care requirements, namely being drought tolerant. Taller juniper trees can provide shade for shade-loving plants, or you can plant other conifers next to your junipers to form a border.

In terms of flower colors, blue flowers will bring out the blue tones of juniper needles, while red flowers will draw out the green undertones. White flowers can brighten an area, while darker flowers can deepen the shade under your juniper tree and add an air of mystery.

For blue flowers, try catmint, lavender, or sage. If red flowers appeal to you, look for blanket flowers, delosperma, or red hot pokers. To brighten the shadows around your juniper trees you might want candytuft, but plant hellebore to intensify your shade. Of course, these aren’t the only flowers you can plant with your juniper trees, so feel free to experiment!

That’s the basics you need to know about planting and caring for your juniper trees. They’re low maintenance, and very seldom have any serious problems. Watch out for overwatering, and plant your trees somewhere that gets a lot of sun and has well-draining soil. There are many different varieties of juniper, and there is almost certainly a variety that’s the right size and shape for your yard and garden. Anyone can enjoy the benefits of having well-kept juniper trees in their yard using this simple guide.

Topics
Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
A guide to growing a thriving olive tree
Everything you need to know about choosing and growing this popular tree
A grove of olive trees

Olive trees have a long history of cultivation—from ancient Greece, where olive groves were tended with care, to the modern orchards that supply your kitchens with olive oil and tapenades. If you’re looking for the freshest olive tapenade, you might consider growing an olive tree yourself. In that case, you’ll want to know all the tips and tricks for keeping your olive tree alive and thriving. Here’s everything you need to know about taking your olive tree from seedling to success.
What type of olive tree should you grow?

There are many types of olive trees, and each one has its merits. Which one you choose is ultimately based on what you’d like to use the olives for. If you want an olive tree but no olives, try a fruitless olive tree variety like Majestic Beauty or Swan Hill.

Read more
Russian sage plant care: A complete guide
Add Russian sage to your garden
A sage plant with purple flowers

When planning a pollinator-friendly and drought-tolerant garden, you have plenty of options to choose from. Salvia, or sage, is a popular choice, but did you know there is more than one kind of sage? Russian sage may not be the first type of sage you think of, but it is a lovely and hardy plant. If you want to try growing this amazing and easy-to-care-for plant in your yard or garden, then this is the care guide for you. We’ll answer all your questions about Russian sage plant care to help ensure your garden thrives.
Planting Russian sage

Choose a planting site in full sun, with well-draining soil and plenty of space to grow. Russian sage can tolerate some shade, but the stems can become limp or droopy if they don’t have enough sun. Well-draining soil is important, as Russian sage doesn't tolerate wet feet for long. It also struggles to thrive in acidic soil, so be sure the soil is alkaline or neutral. You can find a soil pH test kit online or in many garden supply stores, which can help you determine if you need to adjust the soil’s pH or find a new planting site.

Read more
How to create your own pollinator garden – invite bees, butterflies, and more to your outdoor space
Step-by-step guide to attract pollinators to your landscape
A group of purple coneflowers

Our pollinators need a break. Consider the monarch butterfly or honey bee, or any of our more than 3,600 lesser-known bee species, hundreds of native butterflies, and hummingbirds. They convert flowers into fruits, grains, nuts, and seeds, including those of more than 150 different North American food crops. However, they face mounting pressure due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Pollinator gardening reduces that pressure. If you're wondering how to create a pollinator garden, we'll help you with some tips ahead.
What is a pollinator garden?

A pollinator garden is a safe haven for bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and other creatures that carry pollen. It might be as simple as a large container garden with a variety of pollen- and nectar-bearing flowers. Or it could encompass many acres, with host plants that support various stages of life, a progression of flowers throughout the year, and a source of water. Typically, it’s any convenient backyard space that needs a bit of attention.
How to create a new pollinator garden

Read more