Kentucky Living Home

Tough Grey Owl juniper

By Shelly Nold from February 2013 Issue

CONES IN THE WINTER ARE ONE OF MY favorite characteristics of a juniper evergreen shrub. One commonly available juniper, Juniperus virginiana, Grey Owl, is known for its attractive bluish to silver evergreen foliage, but also has the added bonus of beautiful and consistently produced small 1/4-inch bluish round cones.

THIS JUNIPER GROWS 3 TO 5 FEET TALL and 4 to 6 feet wide in our Kentucky landscapes. Certainly dwarf in comparison to many junipers, its smaller size is often seen in the urban landscape and smaller gardening environments, as well as in commercial landscapes planted by businesses. It is medium sized with spreading, large, ascending branches that droop slightly.

IT PREFERS TO GROW IN GOOD WELL-DRAINED SOILS but is very tolerant of dry soils, extreme heat, and occasional drought conditions. Full sun is a must for all junipers as they tend to decline quickly when planted in wet areas or in the shade.

THERE ARE JUST A FEW PEST PROBLEMS to watch out for. Bagworms are the most prevalent issue and can be easily controlled if caught early. Grey Owl or any juniper can serve as a host in the life cycle of cedar apple rust, which is not a problem for the juniper though it is for any apple trees in production nearby.

THIS TOUGH DWARF JUNIPER CAN BRING A GLOW of white and blue to the winter garden. It is small enough to plant around buildings and walkways, but I prefer to enjoy its beauty when planted at a distance to be viewed from windows during winter. The foliage is also excellent for cutting and decorating during the winter holiday seasons, and the plants, though small, are vigorous enough to handle it.