The incredible, easygoing Rocky Mountain juniper is a North American native that’s used to spruce up formal gardens and pure areas alike.
Birds adore it, it may possibly thrive in difficult-to-fill spots, and it provides year-round shade and texture to the backyard.
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Now, I may be a bit biased. I used to be raised within the Rockies and greater than as soon as I laid out below the solar and inhaled the gin- and cedar-like fragrance of those bushes.
Each time I catch the aroma of a cultivated juniper, I’m introduced again to these lazy summer time days within the mountains. I’m positive you’ll adore it too.
On high of their low-maintenance demeanor, they’re additionally simply downright handsome, particularly among the beautiful cultivars which were bred over time.
So, I feel they’re fairly exhausting to beat. If you happen to’re on the fence, my objective is to have you ever singing their praises by the point you attain the top of this information.
To make that occur, right here’s what we’ll discuss:
The Rockies are dwelling to some fairly rugged landscapes and most of the crops there needed to adapt to outlive. These junipers discovered find out how to thrive even when the environmental situations acquired robust.
What Is Rocky Mountain Juniper?
There are 13 native juniper species within the US, and Juniperus scopulorum has turn out to be a preferred possibility in dwelling gardens throughout North America.
It’s also called the Western purple cedar, even supposing it’s not a cedar (Cedrus spp.) or arborvitae, that are crops within the Thuja genus that we regularly name cedars.
Also referred to as river juniper, cedro rojo, and sabino, it’s probably the most broadly distributed of the North American native junipers.
It has a compact, upright, barely columnar progress behavior, although cultivated varieties can fluctuate in look from these with mounded ground-creeping habits to upright weeping sorts.
The evergreen needles are pointy and grey once they’re younger, coated in a white coating. As they mature, the needles turn out to be darkish blue to mild inexperienced with scale-like layers. The bark is grey or reddish-brown and peels away from the trunk.
Rocky Mountain juniper is dioecious, and it develops solitary darkish blue cones – which we often name berries – that ripen of their second 12 months, once they develop a white bloom that consists of untamed yeast.
Every cone incorporates one to a few seeds, and it may possibly take crops 10 years or extra to begin producing these.
Animals love the berries, and robins, turkeys, cedar waxwings, and jays all feast on them. Elk, deer, sheep, and antelope eat the needles, however provided that nothing tastier is round.
Relying on the cultivar, these crops can develop as much as 40 ft tall and 15 ft vast. These are long-lived bushes which were identified to outlive for as much as 2,000 years.
Usually confused with its shut relative the Jap purple cedar (J. virginiana) with which it hybridizes readily, you possibly can inform the 2 aside as a result of the Jap purple cedar has darker inexperienced foliage and the cones mature in only one 12 months, whereas junipers take two to a few years to mature.
As soon as once more, Jap purple cedars aren’t associated to true cedars or arborvitae.
Scopulorum means “of the mountains,” indication of the place this plant thrives. The Rocky Mountain juniper’s native vary extends, as you’d count on, all through the Rocky Mountains from Mexico north via the Canadian vary, and from the western deserts to the Nice Plains.
It’s not that this species can solely thrive in a mountainous spot with a superb view. The explanation it grows the place it does and throughout such a broad area is as a result of the hen species that make the Rockies their dwelling have distributed the seeds throughout this space.
This versatile survivor lives in an enormous vary of elevations as nicely, from sea degree all the best way to 9,000 ft in dry climates. Within the wild, you’ll often discover these crops in sheltered areas on rocky cliffs and bluffs.
Extraordinarily drought tolerant in comparison with most bushes, it’s solely reasonably drought tolerant for a juniper species native to the western US.
It doesn’t do nicely in humid, sizzling areas just like the southern US and coastal California. Nearly anyplace else in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 9 is appropriate for rising this species.
Cultivation and Historical past
Native Indigenous populations made good use of J. scopulorum. They ate the berries and used them for drugs.
The bark was made into instruments and furnishings similar to cradles, and the wooden was used for hearth gasoline. Additionally they used the needles as drugs and burned the needles and wooden throughout ceremonies.
Don’t eat too many abruptly, although. Blackfoot individuals used the berries to induce vomiting. On the opposite finish of issues, the Crow used it to treatment diarrhea.
The Cheyenne burned the leaves to treatment a concern of thunder and made an infusion out of the cones and boughs to deal with colds and coughs. The wooden was thought to have particular properties and should you made a flute out of it, you may attraction somebody into falling in love with you.
Kutenai, Navajo, Sioux, and Thompson individuals additionally favored this plant for its cold-easing talents, and practically all the western tribes used it within the dwelling in some kind for deterring pests and spirits, for normal cleansing, or for retaining illness at bay.
You may develop many varieties of juniper via air layering, however the Rocky Mountain species doesn’t propagate nicely utilizing this methodology. As an alternative, take cuttings or transplant nursery begins into the backyard.
Some cultivars can solely be propagated by rooting cuttings or planting nursery begins as a result of they don’t produce cones, or the seeds are sterile.
Junipers propagate nicely from cuttings and it’s a dependable methodology to breed a plant that you just significantly love, which might be a clone of the mum or dad.
The method entails taking a stem slicing that’s about 9 inches or so lengthy with the diameter of a pencil and putting it in a container crammed with an acceptable potting medium.
You’ll hold that moist till the roots start to kind after which you possibly can put it out within the backyard.
For a full run-down on the method, you possibly can discover extra info in our complete juniper rising information.
I’m assuming your soil doesn’t drain horribly. With good drainage, you possibly can just about dig a gap the dimensions of the rising container and toss this plant into it, and that’s it.
If you wish to do it proper, although, dig a gap twice as vast because the nursery pot and take away the plant from the pot.
Gently loosen the roots and place it within the gap. Fill in across the plant with a half-and-half combination of the unique soil and well-rotted compost. Water nicely.
Find out how to Develop
I can’t emphasize strongly sufficient how necessary it’s to pick out the precise spot for these crops. That’s good recommendation usually, however I assume you’re concerned about rising the sort of juniper as a result of they’re hardy and just about maintenance-free.
These bushes have shallow roots – they advanced to develop in rocky areas the place their roots can’t penetrate deeply.
Be happy to make use of them in rock gardens, however don’t put them someplace with heavy earth and poor drainage. You’ll kill a Rocky Mountain juniper sooner that approach than anything.
Some gardeners make the error of putting these crops in partial shade, and younger crops are completely completely satisfied there. However as they mature, they want full solar.
If you happen to plant your juniper partially shade, this can improve the danger of illness and it’ll turn out to be leggy with sparse progress.
That’s to not say these crops are susceptible to illness or to rot. It’s simply value emphasizing that if you wish to take pleasure in all the good issues these crops have to supply by way of hardiness, well being, and look, it’s good to plant them in the precise spot.
As soon as there, your job is to maintain younger crops watered till they turn out to be established. This sometimes takes a 12 months or two. Remember to present constant moisture within the absence of rain.
Junipers don’t want loads of water as soon as they’re established, however they do have to be saved considerably moist once they’re younger.
Give your plant water when the highest inch of soil has dried out. As soon as it’s established, the highest two or three inches can dry out between watering. That may imply you by no means have so as to add water should you dwell someplace that receives rainfall commonly.
Add some wooden mulch across the base of the crops to assist retain moisture and hold weeds away. It’s also possible to use well-rotted compost, which has the additional advantage of offering vitamins.
- Plant in well-draining soil in full solar.
- Preserve younger crops nicely watered. Older crops want much less water.
- Wooden mulch may help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Pruning and Upkeep
If I wasn’t clear about it already, I really like junipers. However I don’t love junipers which were sheared inside an inch of their lives or trimmed again to bare wooden to try to power them right into a spot the place they don’t belong.
If you happen to select the precise cultivar in your location and also you plant it in the precise place, you gained’t must do a lot trimming. Actually, the one purpose to interrupt out the pruners is to take away useless or diseased wooden, or if a department breaks or stands proud at a humorous angle.
Truthfully, should you love pruning, there are many bushes on the market that offers you the chance. Strive a boxwood or a laurel.
Junipers are for many who don’t wish to fuss with frequent or intense trimming, although some cultivars are suited to make use of as topiary.
Be taught extra about pruning junipers in our information.
On that be aware, should you discover the method of fertilizing your crops meditative, you’ll must concentrate on different species for that as nicely. Junipers hardly ever, if ever, want feeding.
If yours is rising in a container, you possibly can go forward and feed it as soon as each two years – although you gained’t want to offer fertilizer in any respect should you repot or change out the soil periodically.
Right down to Earth All Objective Fertilizer
A gentle, balanced fertilizer is all you want. I really like Right down to Earth’s All-Objective Combine, which you’ll be able to decide up at Arbico Organics in one-, five-, and 15-pound compostable containers, however you possibly can select your favourite.
For tall, skinny cultivars, you would possibly wish to wrap the tree in burlap or use twine to maintain the branches secure throughout heavy snowstorms. In any other case, you would possibly discover a couple of damaged branches after heavy snow.
Cultivars to Choose
There are two pure variations of Rocky Mountain junipers which were found thus far. These are the columnar J. scopulorum var. columnaris, and the mounded shrub often called J. scopulorum var. patens.
Each of those, in addition to the species plant, have been used as mother and father to create some stunning cultivars. Let’s check out a couple of.
‘Monam’ is a particularly well-liked possibility and it couldn’t probably look extra completely different from the unique plant.
As an alternative of a tall, pyramidal form, this plant is a low-growing creeper that spreads about eight ft vast and grows simply two ft excessive in Zones 3 and up.
The foliage is distinctly and unmistakably blue.
‘Medora’ has a stunning columnar form naturally, however should you’re in search of a dreamy topiary, this is a wonderful possibility.
The foliage is dense and upright, with a green-blue hue. This plant grows to 10 ft tall and simply two or three ft vast. Develop it in Zones 3 to 9.
‘Moonglow’ is a particularly well-liked possibility, partially due to its silvery blue foliage that glows like moonlight. It additionally maintains a dense, beautifully-formed progress behavior with out pruning. This cultivar reaches 15 ft tall and 6 ft vast at maturity.
This towering backyard accent has a pyramid form, and it’s good to go in Zones 3 to eight. It’s additionally identified for being significantly proof against pests and ailments.
You may – and will! – decide up one in all these should you’re concerned about a stand-out Rocky Mountain juniper. Head to Quick Rising Timber for a one- to two-, three- to four-, four- to five-, or five- to six-foot tree.
If I needed to guess, I’d guess you’ve seen one in all these earlier than in a backyard someplace.
They’re extremely well-liked and also you see them throughout in dwelling gardens and industrial areas alike. They’ve a definite progress behavior, staying simply three or 4 ft vast however stretching as much as 20 ft tall.
Little question that’s why they make a stupendous point of interest, privateness display, or container specimen. ‘Skyrocket’ is so slim that it may possibly squeeze into tiny naked spots, however it’s substantial sufficient that it may possibly make an announcement all by itself.
Zip on over to Dwelling Depot to seize a dwell plant in a 2.25-gallon pot, appropriate for rising in Zones 3 to 9.
With a broad, pyramidal kind that reaches 15 ft tall and 5 ft vast, ‘Wichita Blue’ is a stately possibility that has a distinctly siverly-blue hue.
It stands out from the remainder of the greenery within the yard and affords up year-round curiosity in Zones 3 to 9.
Seize a tree in a gallon-size pot on Amazon should you’re in search of one thing that brings a singular component to the yard.
Managing Pests and Illness
Rocky mountain junipers are topic to the standard pests and ailments that bother all crops within the Juniperus genus. Listed here are the bugs and ailments that appear to bother this species, specifically.
Mites are by far the most probably pest you’ll run into.
There are a number of species of spider mites that feed on Juniperus scopulorum. Spruce spider mites (Oligonychus ununguis) are the commonest.
Spruce mites are too small to see with the bare eye, so look ahead to yellowing or yellow speckling on the needles. The needles could ultimately flip brown and fall off when crops are infested.
These pests significantly love cool climate and so they can kill crops in a 12 months or so should you don’t intervene.
Trim off any impacted branches after which spray the crops with a powerful blast of water. Spray once more each few days. This must be performed within the morning so the plant can dry within the solar. Preserve at it for a couple of weeks or till signs start to resolve.
Rocky mountain junipers are hosts for cedar apple rust, brought on by the fungus Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae. Be taught extra about this illness in our complete information. Blight is one other illness to observe for.
The fungus Cercospora sequoiae var. juniperi causes a illness often called Cercospora blight.
You’ll sometimes see signs on the younger, inside leaves on the backside of the plant first earlier than it spreads as much as the older and exterior leaves. The leaves flip brown and dry.
Prune contaminated branches. If you happen to caught the illness early, you may be up to the mark. However should you don’t catch it early sufficient, you’ll want to show to fungicides.
Bonide Liquid Copper Fungicide
You may decide up some Bonide liquid copper fungicide at Arbico Organics in 32-ounce ready-to-use spray, 16- or 32-ounce hose finish bottles, or 16-ounce focus.
Greatest Makes use of
A greater query here’s what can’t you employ Rocky Mountain junipers for?!
They make a wonderful privateness display, hedge, or specimen. Use them in buffer strips or as a bonsai. Plant them in containers or settle them into the right spot as a drought-tolerant floor cowl.
Fast Reference Rising Information
|Plant Sort:||Woody shrub||Foliage Shade:||Inexperienced to yellow (inconspicuous)/inexperienced, blue, silver (blue cones)|
|Native to:||North America||Tolerance:||Drought, depleted soil, air pollution, rocky soil|
|Hardiness (USDA Zone):||3-9||Soil Sort:||Sandy loam|
|Publicity:||Full solar||Soil Drainage:||Nicely-draining|
|Time to Maturity:||As much as 15 years||Attracts:||Birds|
|Spacing||2-5 ft, relying on cultivar||Companion Planting:||Coneflower, lavender, rose of Sharon, rose, salvia, sedum|
|Top:||As much as 40 ft tall||Makes use of:||Bonsai, containers, floor cowl, hedge, privateness display, specimen|
|Unfold:||As much as 15 ft vast||Order:||Pinales|
|Frequent Pests and Illness:||Spider mites; cedar apple rust, Cercospora blight||Species:||Scopulorum|
Head to the Rockies for a Versatile Shrub
“Simple to look after” is Rocky Mountain juniper’s center identify.
As long as you set it in the precise place, it would reward you with year-round shade and texture with out having to fret a lot about watering, feeding, or pruning.
Plus, there are such a lot of completely different cultivars that you’ve got a number of choices to select from.
Which cultivar caught your eye? The place will you employ it? Tell us within the feedback part under!
The juniper world is big with a lot to know. If you happen to’re concerned about discovering out extra, try these guides subsequent:
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