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), Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 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 needles-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 three or opposite pairs, pointed and convex. Needle color is green, 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, tolerating both acid and alkaline soils. 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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