NC State Extension Publications


Junipers are grown all across North Carolina, in just about every landscape situation: around ski villages at Beech Mountain or around ocean-front cottages on Bald Head Island. There are over 170 species and varieties being grown by American nurserymen. North Carolinians typically choose certain junipers found in the species J. chinensis, J. horizontalis, J. sabina, J. communis, J. procumbens, J. conferta, and of course, J. virginiana - commonly known as Red Cedar.

The junipers are all evergreen, with needle-like or scale-like foliage. The color of the foliage will vary from dark to light green, blue to silver, and several yellow and gold colored cultivars are also available.

Landscape Use

Junipers are popular because of their numerous design characteristics: form, size, color and texture. Low-growing junipers can be used as groundcovers, foundation plantings, or specimen plants in rock gardens. Taller growing plants are excellent for screens, hedges or windbreaks.


The one common likeness found with junipers is their extreme tolerance to adverse conditions. As stated earlier, junipers can grow from the mountains (zone 5) to the coast (zone 9), and everywhere in between.

Junipers generally enjoy full sun and good drainage. They will grow in a variety of soils but really do not like wet feet (especially Shore Juniper). During 'droughty' periods in our typical North Carolina summers, they withstand the heat and dryness much better than most ornamentals.

Junipers do not tolerate severe pruning. This makes it necessary to determine the growth pattern of a particular juniper before planting. The juniper can be 'tip-pruned' and 'thinned' but not cut back to large limbs and expected to rejuvenate itself.

Insect pests would include bagworms, spider mites, leaf miner and aphids, all of which can be controlled with the appropriate pesticide. The following is a partial list of junipers which grow well in North Carolina.

Botanical Name Common Name Landscape Remarks
J. chinensis Chinese Juniper Grows very large and is hardy throughout North Carolina. Typically, an erect, conical narrow tree form.
'Hetzii' - (15') upright spreading branches at 60° angle.
'Kaizuka' (Torulosa) Hollywood Juniper - very interesting shapes and forms. Upright, twisting habit. Excellent specimen plant. Grows to 20-25'
'Pfitzeriana' - (12') upright spreading at a 45° angle.
'Pfitzeriana compacta' - (15-18") dwarf form.
'San Jose' - (24") creeping type, spreads irregularly.
J. communis Common Juniper Grows to 10-12' with 8-12' spread. This juniper does not grow well in eastern North Carolina. J. communis has reddish-brown dark and grey-green foliage. Several cultivars available.
J. conferta. Shore Juniper A favorite ground cover juniper which is typically overplanted. Should be set on 512 to 6' centers instead of 3' centers. Grows 12-18" high with a 6-8' spread.
'Blue Pacific' - ocean green foliage
'Emerald Sea' - very salt tolerant
J. horizontalis Creeping Junipers Used mostly as ground cover as it grows to 2' with 6-8' spread. Many landscape uses with different cultivars.
'Bar Harbor' - low spreading.
'Plumosa' - upright, spreading to 3' in height
'Plumosa compacta' - 1-2' in height, dense branching, flat spreading
'P.C. Youngstown' - green in winter
'Procumbens' - (6") very prostrate form.
'Wiltoni' (Blue Rug) - (4-6") prostrate.
J. virginia. Red Cedar Pyramidal tree form (40-50'). Excellent gray, exfoliating bark, bluish-green foliage, blueberries. Trunks make excellent fence posts, and small trees are Christmas tree favorites. Many cultivars available but easily found in native conditions throughout the state.


Spec (Commercial Landscaping)
Horticultural Science

Publication date: Sept. 30, 1994

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