How Many Different Types Of Juniper Trees Are There?

Upright trees and other beautiful Juniper varieties for landscaping and ground cover

Types of Juniper Trees

Bryce Nance/Barry Winiker/Daniel Meissner/gettyimages


Junipers are often over-planted and under-cared for in commercial settings, typically dismissed as bland.

Junipers comprise many different types of juniper trees, shrubs, and some four hundred cultivators that are grown worldwide.


Belonging to the Juniperus genus, they are members of the cypress family of plants and are native to North America, Asia, and Europe. Both cedar and Junipers are different from one another. People often assume that they belong to the cedar tree family but they are not from the genus Cedrus, even when they use cedar in their common names.


Unless otherwise specified, Junipers perform the best in USDA zones four through eight. They also perform well in higher zones wherein the summers are not excessively humid. Distinguished globally for their cones and colorful foliage, the mature Junipers have leaves with flattened scales.


This guide will address the juniper tree varieties in greater detail. Let us discuss them one by one.


In This Article:


Is Juniper A Tree or A Bush?

Type Evergreen coniferous
Leaves Needle-like, glossy green
Height 66-131 feet
USDA Hardiness zones four through eight
Bark Reddish-brown but peels off in vertical, thin, long strips.
Lifespan Ranges from 350 to 700 years, but some juniper tree varieties may live 1000 years.
Growth rate One to two feet per year – Slow to Medium
Light Loves full sun but can survive in partial shade too
Soil Well-drained soil – grained, compacted, loamy, and rocky
Water Newly planted ones need water twice a week, but older trees demand lesser water.


Juniper is a versatile specie and can play many different roles. So, it can be grown as a bush or a tree. Typically, all juniper types are coniferous and evergreen plants with scaly leaves, but their presentation and height vary between different varieties. They have a slow growth rate of a few inches to a foot per year.


You can find tall trees, shrubs, or ground cover juniper varieties. Regardless of the type, they all have a resinous sap, which is pretty combustible. Junipers are not the type you grow in dense residential areas with a wilderness danger. However, you can plant them as a specimen planting for rocky outcroppings where there is not much combustible material in proximity.


What are The Different Types of Juniper Trees?

These trees can be classified in different ways. We will categorize them based on their growing habit (structurally) and uses.

  1. Juniper Trees for landscaping
  2. Upright Junipers
  3. Ground cover Junipers


A. Juniper Trees for Landscaping

So, these are junipers used for commercial and residential landscaping.


1. The Blue Star

Scientific Name Juniperus squamata
Height Two to three feet
Where it grws? Middle East, England, China, and Taiwan


These are lovely, bun-shaped juniper tree varieties that are far from boring. While almost every Juniper is reasonably drought tolerant, this one likes a little more water than the rest. Native to England, it does excellent in regions with frequent rainfall and moist air.


Its blue color makes it particularly vibrant, especially in the cold weather. It is one of those juniper trees that can brighten up even the drabbest winter atmosphere.


2. Alligator Juniper

Scientific Name Juniperus deppeana
Height Forty-Eight to Sixty Feet feet
Where it grows? Central and northern Mexico and the southwestern United States


Famous for their distinctive bark, these types of juniper trees have bark that looks like the checkered, rough skin of an alligator. Depending on their growing conditions, they can either seem like a tree or a shrub.


It is commonly called the Mountain Cedar, Western Juniper, and Barked Juniper and is the perfect plant for rocky, dry conditions. It is widely employed for buffer screening and in hedges. It grows in USDA hardiness zones seven through nine and needs full sun to thrive.


3. Common Juniper Gold Cone

Scientific Name Juniperus communis ‘Gold Cone’
Height Three to Five Feet
Where it grows? Northern Hemisphere


Of the different types of juniper trees available, this one is a beautiful landscaping tree with dense golden-green foliage. It is a slow-growing, columnar, upright shape juniper tree that works as a foundation planting, specimen tree, and even a pot tree. You can propagate it by semi-wood cuttings. It is a low-maintenance tree and needs no heavy pruning,


4. Blue Pacific Juniper

Scientific Name Juniperus conferta ‘Blue Pacific’
Height Three to Five Feet
Where it grows? Japan and Sakhalin Island (Russia)


These ground cover juniper varieties are prevalent in USDA hardiness zones five through nine. It is a cultivator of the Juniperus Conferta species and is native to Hokkaido, Japan. This compact, evergreen shrub grows between 1-2 meters in height and has a four-meter spread.


Its leaves are bluish-green, arranged in opposite pairs with a needle-like appearance. Blue Pacific has blue-black, spherical cones that contain three to five seeds. Often cultivated as ornamental plants in parks and gardens, these work well as a bonsai subject. Check out other varieties of juniper bonsai here.


These juniper tree varieties thrive in well-drained soil with partial shade to full sun. They are unsuspecting to salt pray, and you can plant them near the coast. These trees are tolerant of windy and drought conditions but require a little maintenance until established.


5. Chinese Juniper (Spartan Juniper)

Scientific Name Juniperus chinensis
Height Depends on the variety – Most of them are shrubs and ground covers
Where it grows? Japan and China


Chinese Juniper varieties enjoy full sun and grow up to 40 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Spartan junipers grow fast. These trees grow in cone shape with green needles which are not smooth.They are a popular choice for landscaping with more than 100 cultivars. Some popular Chinese junipers include.


Its leaves are needle-like, while the plants are young but develop scales when the plant matures. It is tolerant of urban conditions and can thrive even in wet soil.


B. Types of Upright Junipers

Upright Junipers get their name because of their upright structure. They are slender shrubs or hardy, tall trees famous for their columnar shape in any landscape setting. These work brilliantly in the narrow garden spots, where you seek a plant with height. Left on their own, they tend to get lanky. Hence, it is vital to prune them for good looks.


These are easy to grow and are a good pick when you need a quick hedge or privacy screen. They are low-maintenance and can tolerate any well-drained soil. Once established, Junipers also become drought-tolerant. These dense evergreen foliage are an exquisite sight, especially in the winter.


Different types of juniper trees within the upright junipers include:


1. Blue Arrow Juniper

Scientific Name Juniperus chinensis
Height 12 to 15’ tall, 2’ wide
USDA Zone 4-9


Blue Arrow Juniper can be a good pick if you need a houseplant for your home. It is an ideal pick for the Mediterranean-style formal garden. They can also add glory to the front yard. They are prevalent as the outdoor Christmas tree, courtesy of its blue-green, glossy, dense foliage with an upright pyramidal shade.


Botanically called the Juniperus Scopulorum, these juniper tree species can be both shrubs or trees. They demand full sun, well-draining soil, and a tropical climate to thrive. These do not have heavy water requirements and can survive in various kinds of soil.


Overall, they are low-maintenance plants that produce bluish-silver berries, which show at the end of the spring, and persist across the winter to add to the beauty of the landscape.


2. Fairview Juniper

Scientific Name Juniperus chinensis
Height 10-15 feet tall, 4-6 feet wide
USDA Zone 4-9


It is a hardy and adaptable cultivator of the Chinese Juniper. These types of juniper trees have bright green needles and maintain their green color throughout the year. In the fall, the plant develops berry-like, silvery-blue cones, which persist across the winter.


These are low-maintenance plants tolerant to various soil conditions, especially when established. However, we recommend not planting trees in wet areas. The trees demand full sun to maintain their lush growth. These are ideas as hedges, specimens, or groupings.


3. Mountbatten Juniper

Scientific Name Juniperus chinensis ‘Mountbatten’
Height 10-12 feet tall, 8 feet wide
USDA Zone 3-7


These are pyramidal, attractive upright trees with gray to bluish-green needle-like foliage. These trees have the classic Juniper look and yield powder-blue berries in the spring, but they cling to the plant until winter. It is a winter-hardy plant that can tolerate a lot of conditions.


You can use them for privacy screening or hedging. These also work well as the vertical accent in the landscape. The drought, salt, and wind tolerant trees will thrive in partial to full sun but love well-drained soil.


4. Taylor Juniper

Scientific Name Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’
Height 15-20 feet tall, 5 feet wide
USDA Zone 4-9


You might have come across the quick-growing Taylor Junipers which are a type of eastern red cedar. It loves acidic soil and full sun. They are an excellent pick for privacy screens because of their columnar structure.


C. Ground Cover Juniper Varieties

Also known as the Creeping Cedar or the Creeping Juniper, these are the low-lying evergreen groundcover varieties. Botanically, they are called the Juniperus horizontalis. You can find several types in this category, but they all typically grow up to two feet tall.


However, they have a good spread and tend to extend their roots up to eight feet. Some have an even vaster spread and go up to 10 feet. If you grow them in a ledge or a container, they will continue to grow and begin cascading to the side. These plants expand their width by a foot or two every year.

Different types of ground cover junipers include:


1. Bar Harbor

This Juniper cultivator typically grows taller than most creeping junipers. It usually is a foot tall or even more sometimes. This Juniper has a blue-green color and is native to the Marine.


2. Blue Rug

Botanically called the Wiltonlii Juniper, it is the most popular cultivator and has a silver-blue color. The Juniper usually grows six inches or less off the ground and has a fast spread. In the first season alone, it can grow several feet once transplanted from the nursery. It blends well with other evergreens, along hardscapes, and below trees.


3. Blue Acres

It is blue and has a vaster spread than the other varieties. It commonly grows up to twenty feet wide, making it a superior choice for a quick ground cover. You will find it thriving in USDA hardiness zones four through nine.


Juniper Tree Identification

From the different types of juniper trees, how can you know which Juniper you have? Read below the tips to identify the Juniper.


1. Juniper Cones

One of the simplest ways to identify the Juniper is by looking at its cones. The female plants yield colorful berries or modified cones, but the male cones are small, typically tan or yellow-hued. While some species have red berries, the Northwestern species change their color to blue on maturity. These berries attract birds and other wildlife.


2. Juniper Leaves

You can find the Juniper trees in several colors, from deep silvery greens to shades of gold, bronze, and blue. Their evergreen leaves emerge rough, needle-like, and prickly, but as they mature, they soften and develop scale-like, flattened foliage.


Depending on your chosen variety, they may have a weeping, upright, or spreading habit and go from six inches to 130 feet tall with a spread between one to twenty-five feet. The taller varieties have dense foliage and work as windbreaks.


3. Juniper Barks

Juniper tree species have attractive bark. In some varieties, you will find oddly-twisted branches that give them a distinct appeal. The wood is considered fragrant in some species, and this uniquely aromatic characteristic makes the Junipers identifiable.


4. Juniper Berries or Fruits

The berries on the Junipers are purplish-black or edible green with fleshy cones. Mature ones are purple and are common in flavoring Scandinavian and European cuisine, but the green berry-like cones have a piney, citrusy taste.


In the Common Junipers, the yielded berries go in Gin flavoring. While most berries are safe for consumption, some are poisonous too. But, it is best to avoid consuming Junipers straight off the tree.


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1. When’s the best time to plant a juniper tree?

Ans. You can plant Junipers in mild weather in spring or early fall.


Ques 2. What is the lowest-growing Juniper?

Ans.Dwarf Japanese Garden Juniper is the lowest growing Juniper. It is one foot tall and six feet wide.

Ques 3. Which Juniper is best for ground cover?

Ans.Creeping junipers are the best for ground cover.

Final Word

So, these are all types of Juniper trees you should know about. We have naturally not covered every Juniper found in the landscape but handpicked the most common and the most popular varieties.