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sea green juniper
The photo to the left is from Erv Evans, NC State University.

In January, our environment can lead us into a bit of depression due to the lack of excitement outdoors. But don’t get the winter blues yet, there is a type of plant that can be planted into your landscape that will be green all year long, junipers. There are so many different forms of Juniper shrubs that it is easy to find one to fit in any landscape. I will focus on a mid-sized shrub, Sea green Juniper.

Sea green Juniper, Juniperus chinensis ‘Sea Green’, is a quick growing, spreading, evergreen shrub. It grows 4-6 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide and is easily pruned to maintain a specific height. It has an upright growth with arching branches that are very distinct for this particular variety of juniper. Like all juniper species, it has scale-like, or needle-like, foliage. The fruit of juniper shrubs, including Sea green, is a spherical cone that resembles a light blue berry. 

The amount of different species and varieties of juniper make it a great plant for almost any landscape setting. It is almost impossible to not find the size or shape or growth habit in a juniper that works in your landscape. There are junipers that are low growing or groundcovers that grow up to 2 feet tall such as Juniperus horizontalis or Juniperus chinensis ‘Sargentii’. As a medium growing shrub that grows up to 2-5 feet tall, like Sea Green, there is Juniperus chinensis ‘Nick’s Compact’ which is flat-topped and has blue foliage. And in the large category, which is 5-12 feet tall, there is Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Pfitzer’ with a nice blue to purple color to the leaves. There is also a group that are more upright in growth, such as Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’ which grows up to 20 feet tall and columnar. This is just a short list of all of the choices, go to your local nursery or garden center and find one to fit your landscape.

Junipers are a great plant for low maintenance landscapes because they require little care once established. They are drought tolerant and can suffer from overwatering or flooding conditions. They prefer full sun and should not be planted in too high of shade or they will become thin in appearance. Sea green juniper is fairly tolerant of most disease and insect problems, but they do have a few issues. As with all junipers, Sea Green can have problems with bagworms but these can easily be pulled off and discarded or sprayed by a general insecticide when the bags are less than 1 inch in length. They may also have problems with Kabatina and phomopsis blights which cause branch dieback, but the damage from these can be pruned out when it occurs.

Historically, Junipers have been used for many things. They have been utilized in fenceposts, to make decorative wreaths and swags, and for firewood. Juniper is a great choice for firewood because, according to Oregon State University, it burns clean with little smoke and ash.  

Sea green juniper is a great addition to any landscape. It stays green all year and has a unique, upright growth habit. It is easy to grow in urban soils and on an acreage because it is tolerant of most any growing condition. It can even be used for part of a holiday decoration after pruning off a few branches for a wreath. So the next time you look to plant a new large shrub in  your landscape, look to Sea green Juniper.

Nicole Stoner

Nicole Stoner, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, provides a monthly feature on plants to consider for your acreage. This month, she has a plant that will give your landscape color all winter, Sea Green Juniper.