The common juniper berries is an evergreen conifer that is easy to grow in the garden. It is also a species used in cooking and has medicinal properties.
Ground cover or tree
Juniper berries is a conifer with various forms: columnar, conical or rounded, low and spreading, or even creeping in the case of Pfitzer’s juniper berries. A 60 ft tall by 6-9 ft wide tree, juniper berries can also be a spreading shrub 3-15 ft tall, for a spread of 9-15 ft. Its slow growth is offset by a long life span.
Creeping, it is a perfect ground cover shrub especially for rocky and dry slopes: combine juniper berries with cottonwood and St. John’s wort for a guaranteed effect. In the garden, it can be planted as an isolated subject or in a bed. The smaller ones can form borders or decorate a pot. Some species can even be grown as bonsai.
Planting the juniper berries
Where to plant juniper berries?
Juniper berries enjoy full sun and well-drained soil as well as cool, even dry summer climates, rocky or even shallow. Some species like the Beach juniper berries do well by the sea. Plant juniper berries at a sufficient distance from shallow-rooted shrubs such as Camellia or perennials, as it could enter into direct competition for water and minerals.
Common juniper berries in particular have a shallow root system that makes them vulnerable to strong winds. Choose a location sheltered from prevailing winds, especially if the shrub has an upright habit. Creeping or spreading species present no risk of uprooting.
When to plant the juniper berries?
Plant juniper berries preferably in February-March or October-November.
How to plant juniper berries?
In the ground
– Lighten the soil if it is clayey in nature. Use homemade or commercial compost to improve its structure.
– Hydrate the root ball by immersing the container in a bucket of water for 10 minutes. If necessary, loosen the root ball to facilitate rooting.
– Place the conifer, making sure the root ball is at or just below ground level to prevent it from drying out. Fill in with soil, create a watering basin and water thoroughly.
– Mulch to prevent weeds from growing and to keep the soil cool for recovery.
In a pot
– Choose a small or very slow growing juniper berries. Give it a large pot with drainage holes.
– Use a draining potting soil such as “Mediterranean plants” or mix a good planting soil with 1/3 coarse sand or gravel.
Maintenance of the juniper berries
Water during the first summer after planting: the soil must remain slightly humid to ensure a good recovery.
Spray with an insecticide such as fern purin, pyrethrin or black soap and repeat the application after 8 to 10 days. If branches turn brown, cut them off and burn them without delay. Apply copper or a decoction of horsetail, it is probably cryptogamic blight.
Pruning juniper berries
It can be done by removing 1/3 of the year’s shoots if you wish to give a more compact habit or delay growth. Just be aware that if you bare old wood, no regrowth will appear.
This is an advantage for cloud driving because you don’t need to clean up the trunks that make up the structure of the shrub, once the shrub is formed. Simply cut back the year’s growth to maintain the clouds. As in the art of bonsai, you can direct the branches by forming a spiral with wire to instill an atypical shape that will make the charm and uniqueness of the subject.
Watering juniper berries
In the ground
Water once a week for the first two summers to promote recovery. Afterwards, juniper berries can withstand summer drought.
Water a few times during the summer so that the substrate does not dry out completely.
In the ground
Apply a special conifer fertilizer once a month from April to August. Re-pot every 3 to 4 years. Surface in the meantime (change the soil on the surface).
Multiplying juniper berries
Take advantage of the marcotting branches of some juniper berries. If you are patient, sow the seeds by placing the pot outside. The cold helps germination. Cutting the ends of twigs is possible in a cuttings soil kept cool.
Attacks and diseases of juniper berries
Juniper berries are rarely diseased. However, in poorly drained soil, it can be susceptible to rust and root rot. Parasites that have little impact on its survival are likely to colonize it. In spring, mealy bugs and aphids, and in summer when it is hot and dry, mites. Attacks by leafminer caterpillars or bupreste larvae are more difficult to eradicate.