Content Detail

Chinese juniper is a durable, adaptable evergreen tree or shrub that can bring year-round color, structure and screening to a dry, alkaline or windy site. Although the species is an erect, conical tree up to 60 feet high and 20 feet wide, a wide variety of cultivated varieties are available for garden and landscape use that range from trees to shrubs down to ground covers. The foliage of scale-like needles is attractive but prickly. In late summer and fall, many junipers have blue-green berry-like fruits, actually modified cones, that attract birds. Junipers are widely used in bonsai, and are rugged and useful landscape plants. Because they are quite salt-tolerant, they can be used near roads, driveways and sidewalks.

  • Family (English) Cypress
  • Family (botanic) Cupressaceae
  • Planting site Residential and parks
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Ground cover, Shrub
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet), Small shrub (3-5 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet), Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Mature height 50-60 feet
  • Mature width 15-20 feet
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Dry soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous, Other
  • Shape or form Creeping, Narrow, Oval, Pyramidal, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow
  • Transplants well Yes
  • Wildlife Game birds, Game mammals, Small mammals, Songbirds
  • Has cultivars Yes

Size and Form:

Chinese juniper has many cultivars and a wide variety of sizes and shapes. It can range from a tall tree growing 40 feet high or more to a small ground cover (18 inches to 2 feet high)

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to Asia.

Bark color and texture:

Old bark is ridged and furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

This juniper has two types of needle-  adult or juvenile (scale and awl). Adult needles are in opposite pairs and along  branches. They are very short, blunt, and  convex. Juvenile needles are awl shaped, arranged in whorls of 3 or opposite pairs, pointed and convex. Needle color is green to either blue-green or gray-green.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are Inconspicuous and  dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants).

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

It has a green berry-like fruit (actually cones) that turn blue-gray by fall.

Plant care:

Chinese juniper needs full sun. It prefers a well-drained, gravelly site and is pH adaptable (to soils from acid to alkaline). Tolerates dry soil once established.

List of pests, diseases, tolerances and resistance:

Needle blights in wet springs can be a problem and it can be susceptible to cedar-apple rust. Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

Ames Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Ames’):

Broad pyramidal shrub, 8 to 10 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide. Steel-blue young needles turn green when mature. Female cultivar produces silver-blue berries.

Blue Point Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’):

A cultivar of pyramidal shape that is 12 feet high and 8 feet wide and densely branched.

Fairview Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Fairview’):

A narrow, pyramidal small tree, 10 to 15 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. Bright green foliage and silver-blue, berry-like globular cones. Older stems have thin exfoliating bark. 

Gold Lace Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Gold Lace’):

A compact form with golden foliage that is  3 to 4 feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide.

Hetz columnar Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Hetzii Columnaris’):

An upright, pyramidal form that is 10 to 15 feet high and 5 feet wide.

Iowa Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Iowa’):

An upright pyramidal small tree, 8 to 10 feet high and 10 feet wide. Its dense, spire-like form opens with age and its blue-green foliage turns green with age. It has large blue fruit.

Kallay’s Compact Pfitzer Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Pfitzeriana Kallay’):

A low, flat-topped, spreading shrub that is 2 to 3 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. It is resistant to most pests (including deer) and to cedar rust and juniper twig-blight diseases. Bagworm can be a problem. Female plants produce berry-shaped cones, but nurseries often do not sell these shrubs with the gender known.

Keteleer Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Keteleeri’):

A broadly pyramidal small tree, 15 to 20 feet high and wide. Disease resistant. Light to medium green foliage and large fruit.

Mountbatten Chinese juniper  (Juniperus chinensis ‘Mountbatten’):

Narrow pyramidal tree, 15 to 20 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide. Dense grayish-green foliage, large fruit and excellent winter hardiness.

Perfecta Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Perfecta’):

An upright, narrowly-pyramidal form that is 15 to 18 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide.

Pfitzer Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Pfitzeriana’): A wide-spreading shrub, 5 to 7 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide. An old-fashioned juniper variety that is rarely sold but exists in many landscapes with angled branches and sage green foliage.

Sea Green Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Sea Green’):

A compact spreading shrub, 4 to 6 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide. Branches are more upright than ‘Pfitzeriana’ and foliage remains dark green in winter. Susceptible to phomopsis blight.

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