The many types of juniper trees and shrubs available for residential yards are extremely versatile and adaptable. Cone-bearing evergreens, junipers are favorites because they have numerous uses in the landscape and can handle urban conditions. Creeping Juniper is a shrub type of juniper. Virtually a groundcover, this low growing, compact shrub is native to the northeastern United States. Like all of its juniper relatives it tolerates hot, dry weather very well and is long-lived. It is also extremely easy to grow.
Size: Creeping juniper varieties grow from 12 to 18 inches tall. Typically they spread 12 to feet, forming a broad, dense mat in a roughly circular shape. Slow growers, they may spread 10 feet in 10 years.
Foliage: Creeping juniper foliage is a fine-textured evergreen needle about 1/16 inch long. While some newer ones on the branch may be prickly, most are flat, arranged like scales on the stems. In the spring they are blue green, turning bluer in the summer, then purplish or maroon in winter. Needles of some creeping juniper varieties stay blue-green all winter. They have a pleasant smell.
Flowers and Berries: Creeping juniper flowers are inconspicuous little cylindrical cones about 1/4 to 1/3 inch long containing 2 to 3 seeds. Male flowers are pale brown and female ones are yellow-green when they appear in late May or early June. The sexes are in separate bushes so only a female shrub bears fruit. The tiny bluish juniper "berries" appear in early August and last until the following April. Only 1/4 inch in diameter, deer, and large and small mammals as well as songbirds seeks them.
Creeping Juniper Choices
Better Varieties: `Glomerata' is the slowest grower. `Bar Harbor' is very compact; its needles have a silvery cast in winter. `Douglasii'(Waukegan juniper) has steel blue foliage which turns silver/purple in fall. Nonfruiting, it has a trailing habit. `Emerson' is blue year round and has a prostrate habit. `Blue Chip' forms a 1-foot high mound of silver foliage with branches spreading 6 to 8 feet wide. `Prince of Wales' grows to 8 inches high, 8 feet wide in a starburst pattern of bright green foliage. `Wiltonii' (Blue Rug) is blue year round and grows flat (6 inches tall) to the ground. There are many others.