Juniper

Juniper is one of three conifer species native to the UK but worryingly it is under threat and the Forestry Commission have identified it as a species for conservation concern. Since it is a key species for maintaining biodiversity in woodland landscapes, it is an excellent shrub to choose for inclusion in a woodland or forest garden. As a hardy, low maintenance evergreen, juniper can be left to its own devices once established. There are different types of juniper that grow to widely differing sizes, from ones that grow low and are almost ground cover, to trees that can grow to 25 ft or even up to 60ft tall.

Growing juniper:

Studies have been done that have determined that seeds take a very long time to germinate and can encounter a whole range of problems. It is best, therefore, to buy immature plants from a specialist tree nursery or garden centre. Propagation by cuttings is far easier than growing from seed.

Plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Junipers are drought tolerant and do not like overly wet soil. They can suffer if over-watered. They will grow happily in a range of different soils but prefer it to be slightly on the acidic side. Some varieties are very salt tolerant and will grow near the sea where salt spray might make it difficult for some other plants to grow.

It is a good idea to use an organic leafmould or similar as mulch around your juniper to keep down weeds and mimic a natural forest environment. Unless the soil is exceptionally poor and low in nutrients, additional fertilisers will not be necessary. Unless you wish to keep a bonsai variety, Junipers will require no pruning.

If you are keen to plant juniper you should try to find a locally native species if possible. This will help retain the natural biodiversity and the native flora in your area.

Why grow juniper in the garden?

Juniper provides food for a variety of invertebrates and the berries are eaten by a number of birds, including several endangered native species. They can also provide a good site for birds to nest in and provide shelter from harsh weather.

Like all conifers, the juniper can help retain greenery in the garden year round and the attractive shapes mean that juniper can also be a good structural ornamental plant.

An added bonus with junipers is that they also provide edible and tasty berries which have medicinal applications and have been eaten in jellies and jams for use with meats for many centuries.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Juniperus communis