Today it is almost impossible to imagine the design of a garden plot or city parks without juniper. You can replenish your collection of evergreens with creeping species that will please the gardener with the color of the needles and the aroma, and will allow you to cover the “bare” rocky areas with bright greenery. The article will tell about the types and varieties of creeping forms, agricultural cultivation and use in landscape design.
Juniperus prostrate, creeping, creeping, horizontal - these are all the names of one genus of the plant, which in Latin means Juniperus with the further addition of the name of the species (horizontalis, communis, sabina, chinensis, etc.)
The plant corresponds to both its scientific and generally accepted names, and is a low-growing shrub, the height of which rarely exceeds 50 cm, sometimes only 10–30 cm in height, but often extends several meters wide. Belongs to the Cypress family (Cupressaceae). Rod: Juniper.All creeping species are distinguished by a dense green mass and sprawling, flexible branches.
- This is a dioecious coniferous plant, with cones of only one sex on each plant, that is, for the ripening of berries, it is necessary to plant bushes of both sexes.
- The root system is superficial, the main part is located in the upper layers of the soil.
- There is no central trunk; there are several creeping, sprawling branches with vertical shoots. Branches with a diameter of not more than 6 mm, but up to several meters long, can form vegetative roots upon contact with the soil and give extensive continuous colonies.
- The old bark turns brown and exfoliates into thin strips.
- Shoots are thin, 0.7-1.2 mm in diameter. They are located in opposite pairs, intersecting at right angles, or are sometimes located in whorls of three.
- Adult leaves on slowly growing branches are scaly, 1-2 mm long (up to 8 mm on the leading shoots) and 1-1.5 mm wide. Juvenile leaves on seedlings and fast-growing shoots (only in young seedlings) are needle-shaped, 5–10 mm long, with sharp, spreading tips. Needles last up to 5 years.
- The color of the leaves is dark green or blue during the growing season, in winter it can be crimson, purple or bronze brown.
- Flowering time - from April to May.
- Male and female flowers are cone-shaped and grow at the ends of the branches of the second year on separate bushes.
- The male cones are oval-oblong, 2–4 mm long, with tan scales that hold the yellow pollen sacs and throw pollen out in early spring.
- Female flowers look like whitish or reddish roundish buds about 1.5 mm long.
- On female plants, small berry-like fruits, spherical or dicotyledonous, 5-7 mm in diameter, ripen, the color is bluish-green in unripe berries, then it becomes dark blue with a natural pale blue coating.
- Fruit cones remain closed, contain from 2 to 5 seeds, which have a curved appearance, mature in about 18 months.
Creeping forms of horizontal species are closely associated with juniper virgin Juniperus virginiana and are often pollinated and crossed with it where their ranges are found. Rock hybridization (Juniperus scopulorum) is also possible.
The culture is frost-resistant, withstands frosts down to -30 ° C, which allows it to be grown in regions with a cold climate, characteristic of most Russian regions. It easily resists droughts, cold, heat, winds, but poorly adapts to urban conditions.
Types and varieties of juniper creeping
There are so many species and varieties of juniper that it is sometimes difficult for even a specialist to correctly classify a plant. Sometimes the species mixes, intraspecific plants can be both shrubby creeping form, and tall trees.Sometimes the same variety falls into the classification of different species. Below are just a few types of juniper that have creeping (folate) forms, and known varieties suitable for cultivation in the garden area.
Did you know? The natural diversity of junipers is truly amazing - these are dwarf crops only 15 cm high, and giant trees reaching 30 m.
Juniper horizontal, or open (Juniperus horizontalis):
- Blue chip - the height of the bush is up to 50 cm. If you don’t cut it, it will grow up to 3 m wide. In winter, the foliage is purple, during the summer growth it is turquoise;
- Andorra Compact - the bush is not higher than 30–40 cm, the crown of young plants resembles a nest in shape, but with age the juniper completely lays branches on the ground. In winter, the needles first turn brown, and then it becomes a purple hue;
- Blue Forest - compact dwarf bush not higher than 20–35 cm, in horizontal distribution reaches 1.5 m;
- Aisi Blue - It is considered the best groundcover juniper, height - up to 15 cm (usually 5-7 cm), width - up to 2 m. The needles are silver-blue, in winter - as if covered with hoarfrost. Can be grown as a container plant;
- Prince of Wales - annual growth of up to 20 cm, bright green color. Foliage - green during the growing season, in winter it becomes golden-bronze.
Juniper medium (Juniperus x-media):
- Gold Star (golden star) - the bush grows no higher than 50 cm, in a horizontal distribution of more than 2 m. The foliage is yellow in color, brighter in the sun, and when shaded it turns green;
- Lemon Hill - slow-growing variety, only 10 cm per season, bush height - not more than 50 cm, width - up to 2 m. Gray-green needles;
- Mint Julep (mint cocktail) - the most stable and hardy variety, does not burn, tolerates partial shade, can be used in container growing.
Chinese Juniper (Juniperus chinensis):
- Plumera Aurea - slowly growing drooping shrub, during the growing season a young growth of bright yellow color, growth rate - up to 10 cm per season;
- Expansions of Variegat - bush height 30–40 cm, horizontal distribution - up to 2 m, growth rate of about 10 cm during the growing season. Foliage is mottled, young shoots are cream.
Common Juniper (Juniperus communis):
- Green Carpet - a compact dwarf bush not higher than 20 cm, in horizontal distribution 1.5 m, the crown is flat, the growth rate is 15 cm per year. The foliage is soft, light green. The branches are so intertwined that they form a plant carpet;
- Repanda - Slow-growing variety, growth is 10 cm per year, bush height is 50 cm, distribution is up to 3 m.
- Spotty springer - 20 cm tall, horizontal distribution - up to 2 m, the growth is 15 cm. The color of the crown is variegated, dark green needles with yellowish ends.
Juniper Cossack (Juniperus sabina) - all species varieties represented by the creeping form are similar to each other, and if you are not a collector, then the variety for growing in the garden area is not so important.
Consider the most popular:
- Mas - under favorable conditions, reaches a height of 1 m, spread - up to 4 m. The branches lie on the ground, are well rooted by layering, and the bush grows very wide, sometimes at a distance of 20 m. In winter, the foliage becomes golden brown, in spring it turns blue green. Berries and cones are considered poisonous.
- Blue danube - annual growth rate of about 20 cm. The blue crown in adult specimens resembles the course of a river - hence the name of the variety, young plants are bright green:
- Tamariscipolia - the lowest grade of this species, a ten-year-old specimen reaches only 30 cm in height.
Scaly Juniper (Juniperus squamata):
- Blue Carpet - a blue carpet (according to some classifications is horizontal or Chinese) during the growing season it turns blue, the height is close to 50 cm, spatial distribution is unlimited, the growth rate is 20–40 cm per year.
- Holger - a tall shrub for creeping forms (grows up to 80–100 cm), but the branches bend to the ground, forming a creeping bush, grows by 1.5 m, the annual growth is 10 cm. The needles are hard and sharp, silver-green, young apical shoots - yellow.
Juniper coastal (Juniperus conferta):
- Smash hit - a ground-cover creeping shrub grows to 30–40 cm, grows by 2.5 m, foliage is awl-shaped, green;
- Blue Pacific - up to 30 cm, grows up to 2.5 m. Foliage - bluish-green, prickly;
- All Gold - up to 20 cm high, spread width up to 2 m. The yellow color of the needles at a sunny place of growth, in the shade it turns green. The growth is up to 10 cm per year.
Juniper (Juniperus procumbens):
- Nana - a compact plant that can grow up to 30-60 cm in height and width. The needles are soft, blue-green. Annual growth is 15 cm;
- Kishiogima - height 30–40 cm, grows up to 2 m, growth rate - 20 cm per year. The foliage is dense and dense, does not burn in the sun, yellow-green on young apical processes and bluish-green on adult branches.
The great species and varietal variety of creeping juniper makes it possible to choose the most unusual shades and shapes of an evergreen shrub that can become a decoration of the garden and cover bare areas with a living carpet of fragrant needles.
Did you know? The ancient Slavs made dishes from juniper bark. In it, products, such as milk, did not spoil for a long time even in the summer heat.
Site selection and preparation
Like many groundcover plants, creeping juniper can grow on a wide variety of soils, and is tolerant to most soil conditions, but it needs well-drained soil for optimal growth. With excessive moisture with stagnation of water in the soil, the bushes will begin to rot from the roots and quickly die.
Therefore, plant juniper in the "full sun", and not in the shady area of the garden, on a site with loose and well-drained, dry soil. Plants are tolerant of heavy soils and a slightly alkaline soil reaction. They grow well on loam, sandy and light clay soils.
If the site does not have sufficient drainage, then when planting, add a little perlite or sand to the soil to increase porosity. It is necessary to clean the soil of all contaminants - weeds, plant debris, stones, construction waste, carefully dig and loosen it.
For garden planting, you should choose three or four year olds. It is better to purchase them in nurseries or in plant breeding centers, preferring implementers with a good reputation.
Such seedlings, as a rule, have a volume of roots of 3-5 liters, take root well and grow faster, unlike young and old plants. When buying, you must carefully inspect the planting material for harmful lesions.
Important! An earthen lump with roots is best left intact so as not to dry and not damage thin absorbent roots, which will ensure the plant's early adaptation to a new place.
Plants with an open root system are recommended to be planted in early spring or in wet periods in order to protect the roots from drying out. Seedlings grown from seeds are also planted in early spring, after pre-treating the roots with a root stimulating agent (for example, “Kornevin”).
The best time to plant is spring, when the air warms up completely and the ground thaws. Before the onset of a hot and dry summer, seedlings have time to take root.
The sequence of stages of landing can be represented in the form of instructions.
- Dig a hole corresponding to the size of the plant. Usually its diameter and depth is 1.5 times larger than the root coma, which makes it possible to freely place the seedling in the recess.
- Do not forget to loosen the soil on the bottom and walls of the recess. This will promote root growth in all directions.
- If the soil is dense, loamy and impermeable, you can add coarse sand or gravel to the garden soil mixed with peat. If the soil is sandy and dry, it is compounded with clay or peat.
- When moving the plant into the pit, slightly loosen the root ball with your hands.
- Set the seedling in the center of the recess and half fill it with soil for coniferous crops. Thanks to this, the new roots will have a nutritional basis. Then fill to the top with local soil. The root neck of the seedling should not be in contact with the ground and be 5 cm higher above the surface of the near-trunk zone.
- Densify the soil around the plant and form a shallow “plate” 2 times larger than the diameter of the root coma. This will ensure better moisture saturation and the flow of water to the underground part of the plant.
- The first watering is best done immediately after planting. If it is spring or summer, be sure to water abundantly in the future.
- If the plant has dry or damaged shoots, then after planting, a sanitary haircut should be carried out.
How to care
Juniper creeping unpretentious, it is easy to grow and it does not need careful care. Hard hardy foliage requires little attention from the gardener, but even in such conditions he will still enjoy a thriving view throughout the year. But to prevent spontaneous distribution, to ensure good cultural growth and proper development of the shrub in garden design, some care is necessary.
Watering and feeding
Juniper bushes are resistant to drought, which makes them ideal ground cover plants in hot climates. An adult shrub withstands hot and dry periods without irrigation, but recently planted specimens do not yet have a stronger root system that can nourish the seedlings with moisture.
They need regular watering during the first year as often as possible, while avoiding stagnation or drying out of the upper soil layer, where the bulk of the roots are located.
Further watering depends on the situation with precipitation; in dry seasons, juniper is watered as the earth dries.Mulch with a layer of 5-10 cm, consisting of coniferous materials - bark, wood chips, sawdust, disassembled cones, will help to retain moisture in the soil. Evergreen ground cover plants usually do not need a lot of fertilizer.
Do not fertilize planting in the first year, allowing the plants to take root and strengthen well. In the future, you can use a balanced complex fertilizer, which is usually used for shrubs and trees. They feed with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in early spring. At the end of summer or autumn, the shrub should be fed with potash fertilizers to facilitate wintering and ensure optimal growth.
Haircut and Shaping
When planting creeping juniper on a site, it should be remembered that these varieties greatly expand in breadth, and can go beyond their allotted boundaries - “go” to paths or to neighboring plantings, drowning them.
Important! Juniper pruning can be carried out all year round, with the exception of rainy weather, severe frosts below –10 ° C and in hot weather above + 25 ° C.
In order to form a beautiful and strong skeleton of the future bush, a shaping haircut should be carried out regularly from the moment of planting young seedlings in a permanent place during the first years of growth. In the future, the pruning frequency depends on the growth rate and growth of the bushes.
A haircut is designed to maintain a given shape and exercise it regularly. At the same time, young shoots are cut out, which extend beyond the composition chosen by the gardener.
Creeping species are frost-resistant, but it is advisable to warm the root zone of young plants with a layer of mulch 15–20 cm and cover plantings with spruce branches.
You can propagate creeping juniper at any time of the year, with the exception of extreme winters. Spring or early fall is the perfect time to move a plant or plant a new batch to increase your collection. The culture is propagated by seeds, cuttings, bends or vaccinations.
Important! Hybrid varieties of juniper are propagated by cuttings, because the seed method does not preserve the characteristic varietal characteristics.
Propagating existing juniper plants through cuttings can be a tedious process, and it will take years before you can see significant growth.
Slices are treated with a rooting agent and rooted in containers or in beds until they become large enough to be placed in open landscapes.
Important! Cuttings of 5–7 cm long and with a part of the mature bark are harvested in early autumn from young shoots stiffened in a season, but it is advisable not to cut them, but to break them off.
Creeping species reproduce well by layering, because the branches touching the ground can independently take root and give rise to young growth. This method of dilution can be used during the entire period of active growth.
To obtain layering, young branches are selected that can quickly grow roots. The shoots are bent to the ground, fixed with wooden studs and sprinkled with soil. The attachment point with soil is periodically irrigated and spud. Young shoots appear during the year, they are dug up with an earthen lump, disconnecting from the parent bush, and transplanted to a prepared place.
Particularly rare, valuable species and forms of juniper can be grafted onto plants of the same species or on varieties close in characteristics.
Diseases and Pests
Tightly growing plants during wet periods are often affected by fungal infections such as fusarium, rust, gray and root rot, alternariosis, shute, wood nectriosis, and biorell cancer. If untreated, the plant may die, and the disease can spread to neighboring plants.
For prophylaxis in spring, the bush is sprayed with Bordeaux mixture, and for treatment, pruning and cleaning of infected areas to living tissue, disinfection of wounds with copper sulphate (1%) is performed and fungicidal preparations are used.The most common pests are various species of aphids, sawflies, spider mites, hermes, scale insects, weevils, cypress moths. For the fight, systemic insecticides or targeted drugs are used. Good care and preventive measures will protect the juniper from harmful lesions.
Use in landscape design
More than 100 different varieties of juniper creeping have been selected for use as ornamental plants in gardens. Many varieties have bright bluish needles, others have bright green, yellowish or mottled, which creates various shades in the palette of garden design. Juniper looks beautiful among decorative stones, creating the appearance of a mountain landscape, and among other coniferous companions, providing a lower tier of garden composition.
Their strictly horizontal "habit" of growth and distribution is highly valued, and these conifers are widely used as ground cover plants. They strengthens slopes and embankments of railways, embankments and highways, preventing their destruction.
If you are looking for a groundcover that can grow well without much care, creeping juniper is what you need. It is able to withstand harsh conditions and flourish both in very hot summers and in cold winters. Plant it near paths, garden benches and enjoy the delicate aroma and view of the evergreen branches. And if your site is located on a hillside, then to improve the appearance of uneven rocky terrain will allow creeping juniper, able to cover large areas in a short time.