Juniper is a popular evergreen conifer known for its hardiness and characteristic berry-like cones. Juniper trees and shrubs are also recognizable by their scaled or needle-like leaves and aromatic fragrance that has lent its flavor to gin for hundreds of years. With close to 70 different cultivars of juniper available, however, selecting a cultivar for your yard can be a daunting task. Falling under the plant hardiness Zone 6a, Westchester County is ideal for a number of different juniper species. Here we’ve put together some of the best juniper cultivars for Croton-on-Hudson and surrounding areas, for use in your winter landscape design to maintain a thriving yard all year round.
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
The eastern red cedar is a juniper cultivar native to the eastern United States and grows abundantly in the wild. This species enjoys open space, but is also effective when grown in lines as a windbreaker or hedge. Growing to majestic heights of up to 50 ft tall at a medium rate of growth, its size can be managed with pruning and trimming. Sparrows, robins, mockingbirds, and warblers are attracted by the fruit and leaves of the eastern red cedar and are known to nest in its branches. The small purple berries are coated in wax, giving them a light blue appearance. As beautiful as it is, the eastern red cedar can pose a hazard to apple trees if planted nearby, transmitting a type of fungus that is harmless to both the juniper and humans, but destroys apple yields.
Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)
Also known as the Wichita Blue because of its distinct silver blue foliage. Closely related to the eastern red cedar, the rocky mountain juniper is a slow grower and reaches a slightly lesser height of around 30 ft. Its broad pyramidal structure gives it a spread of up to 15 ft at its base. Its breadth makes the rocky mountain juniper an excellent cultivar for use as a privacy barrier or for supplying shade to outdoor spaces. This cultivar maintains a regular shape and requires little pruning, although extra trimming can be used to inhibit its size.
Chinese Juniper (Juniperus chinensis)
The Chinese juniper is a commonly used ornamental tree that fares well in a planter. Although it can reach heights of 60 ft, it is more commonly kept at a much smaller size by the confines of its planter, making it a favorite for bonsai and patio displays. The Chinese juniper has a multitude of foliage shapes and can be trained to adapt to a particular growing pattern.
Nana (Juniperus procumbens)
Unlike the previously mentioned cultivars, the Juniperus procumbens is a low growing shrub that can be used as foundation shrubbery and ground cover, seldom growing higher than 3 ft. Because the juniper is an evergreen, Nana can be used to retain greenery in your flowerbeds all year round. Certain variations of procumbens can be shaped to form interesting bonsai displays or maintain the shape of a shrub rather than low lying ground cover.