In this article, we will discuss how to grow compact juniper varieties (Juniperus Species) in containers. Often when you want a plant that is stately and will appear to the naked eye, then Junipers are one of the best conifers that you can grow in the container garden. Junipers make great feature plants in containers.
They are a large genus of trees but often these evergreen plants get too big to be used in containers but there are some that can be grown. They are popular container plants as they require little in the way of care or maintenance. Great for those who wish to plant and forget.
Junipers (Juniperus) are native to regions of Japan and some regions of Russia. They are spread all over the world as they are tolerant of cold temperatures and are not fussy about the growing media that they are grown in.
They are grown for the form that they grow to and for the attractive, colourful levels and wonderful colourful berries they produce in winter (they are often blue). No surprise that container gardeners want them in some form in their garden display.
THEY COME IN TWO TYPES
Junipers come in two types- the creeping type that normally spread and grows up to 2m in height and the upright juniper tree that is more suitable for growing in containers.
What makes it suitable in containers also is that they are drought-tolerate. This is great for those who do not want a plant that needs to be watered regularly. One thing that they do require is full sun, as it will not do well in the shade.
HOW TO PLANT A JUNIPER IN A CONTAINER
First, you will need to choose the right container size, as large as possible to allow the roots to grow. A large half-oak barrel will be ideal and it must have drainage holes to prevent the roots from rooting in too much moisture.
As junipers are not fussy about what compost it is grown in, then any compost can be used although they prefer slightly acidic soils.
For young, immature plants you need to use a mix of 70% by volume of multipurpose compost with 30% by volume of horticultural grit to give a free-draining, growing media. To the bottom of the selected container add a 7cm layer of pebbles over the drainage holes, as this will allow the excess water to drain away.
On top of this add the potting mix. Dig a hole twice the size of the original root ball and place the plant at the same level it came in the original container. Backfill it and fill any gap with more of the growing media and firm it in. Water the plant in and allow the plant to settle in. For the first growing year, you will need to water when it is dry, but after this, you can vastly reduce the need to water.
FOR MATURE PLANTS THE GROWING MEDIA NEEDS TO BE CHANGED
For mature plants, you will need to alter the ratio of multipurpose compost to grit to 50% multipurpose compost by volume and 50% by volume horticultural grit by volume. This will allow the growing media to be more free-flowing and avoid root rot.
Every spring give a handful of slow-release fertilizer to give enough nutrients throughout the growing season.
Once established the plants can be neglected but one thing is that the compost is never soggy. Overwatering will kill the plant.
If you want to keep the plant in shape, you can lightly prune to do so, which is not common for other conifers.
The plants tend to be pests and diseases-free but do not overwater as said previously.
VARIETIES TO GROW
The columnar species to grow is Juniperus communis ‘Hibernica’. This forms a neat, compact growing habit with blue-green, feathery foliage.
Juniperus ‘Blue Star’ is a dwarf Juniper with its rounded shape and tightly packed, prickly steely blue leaves.
Juniperus ‘Pyramidalis’ is a narrow, columnar tree with linear, pointed, deep green to blue needles.
Juniperus scopulorum ‘Blue Arrow’ has a narrow, upright habit with dense, ascending branches that form a pencil-shaped tree.
Juniperus chinensis ‘Expansa Variegata’ has a dense, low growing habit that’s perfect for creating evergreen groundcover in rockeries or as a free-standing specimen.
Juniperus ‘Sulphur Spray’ is a hybrid and a semi-prostrate with arching branches of creamy coloured leaves. In summer the leaves become a yellow colour.
Juniperus ‘Andorra Compacta’ has grey-green foliage that takes a bronze purple tint throughout winter. This provides texture and structure in the garden.
In this article, we have discussed how to grow Junipers in containers. As you can see they are very easy to grow and require much less care than other plants that you wish to grow in containers. They are easy to look after, require little pruning, only an annual feed of slow-release fertilizer and watering when the plant is young and not well established.
You do have choice and forms, as you either grow straight, columnar types or even grow creepers if you have the room.
If you have any questions or comments that you wish to make on growing junipers in containers, please do so in the comment box below.