Foliage: Juvenile (sharp awl-like needles); adult (scale-like); both can be present or some cultivars only have one foliage type (juvenile or adult); evergreen
Height: Depends on cultivar
Spread: Depends on cultivar
Shape: Depends on cultivar
Chinese juniper, the species, is a medium/large tree, however, only cultivars, ranging from small trees/large shrubs to low-growing shrubs are sold at garden centers. Cultivars serve a number of functions depending on size and form. In general, Chinese junipers are “work horses” in landscapes since they are relatively tough (tolerate adverse conditions), serve as ground covers, barriers, hedges and foundation plants, are used in mass, and in a few cases can be a specimen plant (used alone as a focal point due to attractive features). Due to the great range in heights and forms among cultivars, individual cultivars will be described.
Zone: 4 to 9 depending on cultivar
Light: Full sun
Moisture: Average to dry
Soil type: Adaptable to most soils except poorly drained soils
pH range: Acid to alkaline
Chinese junipers cultivars can serve as ground covers, barriers, hedges and foundation plants, are used in mass, and in a few cases can be a specimen plant (used alone as a focal point due to attractive features).
No special care is needed. To reduce the need for pruning, one should choose the cultivar that has a size and form that best meets the particular landscape need. There are relatively harmful foliage diseases that can be very problematic in cool wet spring weather; these are Phomopsis and Kabatina blights. Since these diseases are cultivar specific, one should consult the following web site for information on cultivar susceptibility or resistance to these blights: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/450/450-601/450-601.html.
There are numerous cultivars in the trade that range in size from 3 to 20 feet tall, and that range in form from low-growing ground covers to narrow conical tree forms. Here is a list of some of the popular ones:
Recent investigation has implicated that Chinese juniper (Juniper chinensis) has been a catch all taxonomic classification for a few species. In addition, there have been many natural and human-mediated hybrids between J. chinensis and J. sabina that have also been listed as Chinese juniper. Future texts may sort this all out but for now Chinese juniper is the species that one finds the traditionally listed forms, regardless of taxonomic correctness.
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, re-print, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; Jewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
November 3, 2010