How to grow Junipers - How to grow Junipers: cultivation.

The cultivation of Junipers is no doubt a wide and detailed subject area, but to keep it simple and provide an easy method that the inexperienced gardener can readily use we provide the techniques we have successfully used in England for growing junipers.

Note: The information on this page is based on personal experience of growing junipers in England, and no guarantees of success or otherwise can be given if you follow this advice. Your experiences, climate and garden situation may be different, and you are responsible for your own successes or failures.

Cultivational Requirements

The cultivational requirements of junipers are minimal, however there are certain conditions they must avoid if they are to thrive. Probably the most important of these is boggy or saturated soil. Junipers need well-drained soil. If your soil is heavy deeply-dig in several buckets of gravel or grit (or both) into the area where you are going to plant a juniper. When planting incorporate organic matter (such as leaf mould, old well-rotted manure or garden compost) into the bottom of the hole and mix with the soil taken from the hole.

Generally speaking, Junipers will grow in acid or alkaline soil, but some plants that look good with them - and sometimes grow with them in the wild - such as rhododendrons and heathers, will not. Such plants require an acidic soil. You can help to change the ph of your soil by using products such as:

Miracid Soil Acidifier 500g.

Miracid Soil Acidifier 500g.

This unique soluble fertiliser for acid-loving plants supplies essential iron in chelated form and is absorbed both through leaves and roots. NPK30-10-10 with chelated iron and zinc 500g makes 133 litres.

Planting junipers

First thoroughly water the juniper in its container, unless it is already very moist. In the open ground prepare the surrounding soil as described above, then dig a hole for the root ball which is generous. Do not try to save labour by digging a hole that is barely big enough, this will usually give unsatisfactory results once the juniper starts to grow. Incorporate some organic matter (and extra pea gravel if necessary) then remove the container from the roots.

Loosen or 'tease out' some of the longer roots around the bottom of the root ball to facilitate better contact with the surrounding soil, and hence better establishment of the plant. Place the plant in the hole making sure that the soil level as it was in the pot is at the same level as the surrounding soil surface, or just below. If it is too deep take the plant out and add soem more soil; if too high dig the hole deeper.

Fill in around the root ball with the soil from the hole mixed with some organic matter. Gently firm with your hands (or feet for big plants) to remove air pockets - do not stamp the plant into the ground, it needs to breathe, on the other hand the soil does need to be reasonably firm. How hard you firm will depend upon soil texture and moisture content - the wetter and heavier the soil the less firming will be needed, however some gentle firming will still be needed.

Keep watered during the first (and in very dry areas, second) year.

Growing Junipers in Containers

When growing junipers in containers there are some who use a soil-less compost, and in fact this is the norm for growing and selling junipers in containers at garden centres. However, soil-less composts soon lose their nutrients, they dry out very quickly and blow over in the wind.

Using a soil-based compost such as the John Innes No. 3 below is much better. However, soil-based composts can become compacted in containers after a time, inhibiting free drainage. The best solution therefore is to mix together soil-based and soil-less composts to reach a happy medium. The addition of extra grit and/or sharp sand (not fine builders sand) to the mix is helpful too.

Pay attention to drainage before you place the first handfuls of compost into the container by using broken crocks or stones over the drainage holes to prevent them clogging with soil. I add some grit or fine gravel to the bottom of the container as well.

John Innes No3 Compost 25 litre

John Innes No3 Compost 25 litre

J. Arthur Bower's John Innes No 3 is the traditional loam-based formulation with limestone and grit sand for final re-potting of mature vegetable and foliage plants and shrubs.H250xW410xD80


After the first year of growing in containers your junipers will need feeding. Top dress in the spring with slow-release plant food like that below. This can be mixed with compost containing soil for a more substantial top dressing.

Osmocote Plant Food 1kg

Osmocote Plant Food 1kg

Controlled release plant food which feeds plants when they need it for up to six months. 1lt feeds up to 25sq. meters


Juniper Resources and where to buy:

Juniper Trees. com
Welcome to, your Number One Source of information about Junipers and where to buy these beautiful plants for your garden. We provide plant and growing information for the most popular garden Junipers as well as information about Junipers as bonsai trees and herbal products made from Juniper berries. Visit us now for everything Juniper!

Trees Under $30
Bonsai trees, including junipers, under $30 from Bonsai Boy of New York.

What are Juniper trees?
A scientific look at what juniper trees actually are.

Juniper and Conifer (including Cultivation chapters) Books (Links open in a new window)

Conifer Cold Hardiness

The Conifer Manual


Using Junipers in the Garden
How to avoid 'design mistakes' and how to use these striking plants effectively.

Juniper Links
Good juniper resources and links are in fairly short supply, however we have found some good ones.

Link to this site
Add an extra resource about junipers for your visitors.

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