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Juniper (Juniperus) belongs with its approximately 70 kinds to the family of the Zypressengewsese (Cupresaceae) and represents there the largest group. In Central Europe, however, only the common juniper (Juniperus communis) and the sweet tree (Juniperus sabina) are native. Juniper is known by many different names, including Machangel, Kranewitt, Queckholter or Feuerbaum. Since ancient times, the juniper has great importance as a spice and medicinal plant. With juniper fumigations you wanted to drive away diseases, witches and demons in the Middle Ages. Wacholderextrakte are still used today for the treatment of urinary tract infections and stomach discomfort. The fruits of the bush, the "juniper berries", are popular as a culinary spice.

Appearance and growth

Juniper can grow as a creeping shrub or as an evergreen tree depending on the species. The four- to six-leaf branches are covered with tight-fitting small leaves. These are acicular, extremely pointed, stand together in a threesome or four and form small whorls that look like green stars. The famous juniper berries are actually small cones. This is best recognized as long as they are still green and immature. The seeds are formed after fertilization from the coalesced seed and cover scales of the female flower cone. Juniper is dioecious. If you want to harvest fruits, you have to plant one male and at least one female shrub - and be patient, because it may take up to seven years for the female juniper bushes to flower for the first time. The maturation of the cones / berries then takes another two years. The fruits and needles of almost all juniper species are poisonous, with the exception of the dark blue berries of the common juniper (Juniperus communis).

Juniper bush

The growth habit of juniper varies greatly depending on the species. Here it grows as a spreading shrub

Location and ground

All juniper species are highly adaptable and grow in subarctic as well as subtropical areas. Juniper grows in sunny and partially shaded spots on well-drained soil, which may also be calcareous. He tolerates heat and dry well, but suffers in the shade (for example, under large treetops), because he is very hungry for light.


For evergreen coniferous trees with bales, early autumn is the best planting time. Until mid-November, the garden floor still has relatively much residual heat. Thanks to this reserve of energy, the newly planted trees can easily become rooted in the year of planting. This is important because the evergreens also evaporate water in the winter over their needles and only a well-trained root system can provide the required liquid. Depending on the growth habit (carpet-like, shrubby or upright), the space required for planting juniper trees differs. If you want to plant juniper as a hedge, you should plan a distance of at least 70 centimeters between the plants.

care Tips

Juniper is very undemanding in the care. Only in the first few years should be poured in dry conditions, later, the plant will cope even without additional watering. The regular administration of coniferous long-term fertilizer supports the robust nature of the woody plants.

To cut

Juniper with shape cut

Juniper can also be cut as a bonsai

Juniper is cut tolerant and can be made year round, but preferably in spring or autumn, by cutting in shape. The old wood, however, drives hard again. Attention: The pointed needles make the juniper a fortified plant. Therefore wear long clothing and strong gloves when cutting!

winter protection

Well rooted juniper is completely hardy and needs no winter protection.


The various juniper types and varieties provide variety in the garden and inspire thanks to their great variety of shapes throughout the year. For every design wish and every garden size, there is something suitable in the genus of the juniper. Especially the weak juniper varieties are ideal for the home garden. Also for plant troughs and tubs you can use smaller species well, since even hard frost can not harm them. The creeping juniper has yellow-, blue- or green-needle varieties (for example 'Hornibrokii') which, due to their very slow growth, perfectly fit into smaller gardens and sunny gravesites. It spreads carpet-like and is also suitable as a low bed enclosure. The shrub juniper (eg Juniperus virginiana 'Hetzii' or the 'Pfitzeriana' varieties) is fast-growing and well cut-tolerant. It also thrives in pots and develops the well-known juniper berries, which are valued as spices. Column juniper such as the varieties 'Skyrocket' and 'Hibernica' are typical plants for heather gardens and are often planted instead of cypress trees in our latitudes.Due to their slender growth they fit into small front gardens, boulders and grave sites.

Column Juniper

Pillar juniper is wonderful for gardening greenery

Tip: Although the branches of the juniper are poisonous, they exude a wonderfully resinous scent in the home. Juniper berries are harvested from August until late autumn. Picking with the hand is very difficult because of the sharp needles, so you tap the berries with a stick from the branch. Juniper shavings are suitable for smoking and grilling, they are also used as a bath additive or as a natural moth protection. The berries of juniper are used to aromatize various herbal schnapps such as gin, Steinhäger or genever.

Important species and varieties

In the home garden is rarely planted the wild form of juniper. Due to the more compact growth, breeding forms are more in demand here. Recommended alternatives also for rougher locations are columnar-growing juniper varieties such as Juniperus chinensis 'Spartan' or 'Keteleeri' or Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket', which is several meters high, but remains extremely slender and therefore requires very little space. Its soil-covering growth makes the creeping juniper (for example Juniperus procumbens 'Nana', Juniperus horizentalis 'Glauca' or Juniperus squamata 'Blue Carpet') the ideal surface greener. The cone juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Stricta') presents itself loosely. His needles turn steel blue in winter and are a great eye-catcher. The needles of the Blue Cedar Juniper (Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star') also glow in a beautiful shade of blue. Yellow Juniper Juniperus media 'Old Gold' shows golden needles all year round. Lush green brings the Chinese juniper 'Rockery Gem' in the garden. Its growth is low and its branches are highly branched. Like a blue carpet, the shallow-growing creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis 'Bar Harbor') has a purple glow in autumn.

Juniperus squamata 'Floriant'

The variety Juniperus squamata 'Floriant' delights with an unusual bud-dyeing


The multiplication of juniper is best achieved in the summer by cuttings. Some, especially the creeping forms, can easily be multiplied by offshoots. Breeding varieties are developed in garden centers by grafting. An increase by seeds usually does not succeed.

Diseases and pests

Juniper rarely has to deal with diseases or pests, but it is the carrier of the pear grid. Sweet tree, Chinese juniper and virgin juniper are the main vectors of the fungus. Domestic Juniper (Juniperus communis) is not attacked. In summer, the harmful fungus forms gelatinous winter spore camps (juniper bile) on thickened shoots on its main host. In rainy seasons numerous fungal spores are released and carried by the wind on the secondary host, the pear. There arise from the flowering time, small orange-red spots on the leaves and wart-like outgrowths on the underside of leaves, in which form new fungal spores. The pear tree bears no fruit and dies in heavy infestation. In order to prevent an infestation one should therefore set apart the two plant types as far as possible. Three to five sprays with Saprol New or Polyram Combi help during flowering. When juniper helps only a strong pruning to healthy wood. The clippings must not be disposed of in the compost, but must be disposed of as residual waste.

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