Juniperus squamata is a species of coniferous shrub that is also known by the names flaky juniper or Himalayan juniper. These delightful evergreens belong to the Cupressaceae (cypress) family, which counts over one hundred different members. Its genus is, unsurprisingly, Junipera.
Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ is — as the English name that immediately follows the scientific name of the species indicates — a cultivar, a variant intentionally bred to bring out desired traits. These beautiful silver-blue evergreens are exceptionally densely-packed dwarf shrubs that are typically chosen for small spaces, such as on patios, in container gardens, and in rock gardens.
This plant is perhaps best known for its dense needle clusters, which offer the appearance of stars — giving the blue star juniper an especially festive look. The blue star juniper is a wonderful choice for people in search of a low-maintenance evergreen, and the shrub’s characteristic silver-blue color makes it stand out when planted alongside shrubs with golden leaves.
About Blue Star Junipers
- Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ is a coniferous dwarf shrub. Although it features needles, like other conifers, they are chubby awl-shaped needles that famously grow in whorls of three — making the blue star juniper a beautiful ornamental plant.
- Juniperus squamata conifers are native to China, Afghanistan, and the Himalayas, which is why they are also called Himalayan junipers. Because they’re native to mountainous regions, these beautiful evergreens love cooler climates.
- This exceptionally dense low-growing shrub is a wonderful choice for rock gardens, and is often chosen in the context of foundation beds or to provide ground cover. Blue star junipers look best when planted in larger clusters. They can also be used to provide an interesting color accent in formations that contain other evergreens.
- The scientific name of this species of juniper, squamata, is a reference to its modestly-sized and scale-like needles — the name means “scaly”.
- Juniperus squamata shrubs are also often called singleseed junipers. That is because these plants famously grow elliptical, black, berry cones that just produce a single seed. These dwarf shrubs do not flower.
- The blue star juniper was first introduced in the 1950s, and has quickly gained popularity since that time, thanks not only to its striking blue color, but also to the star shape formed by its dense needles. The needle clusters on these shrubs resemble the sparklers you might enjoy lighting to welcome to new year.
- Juniper essential oils are often used to promote feelings of calm and relaxation, and having blue star junipers in your garden may help you create an exceptionally peaceful horticultural decor as well — especially if you incorporate your blue stars into a beautiful rock garden!
- Blue star junipers are incredibly versatile shrubs that can thrive in a variety of regions. They do are not, however, a fan of hot and humid climates, and Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ does not tolerate especially wet spring periods very well, either.
- These gorgeous plants are not very susceptible to diseases and pests. They may develop problems if they are grown in inadequate climate conditions, however. In this case, phomopsis twig blight and spider mites are two common afflictions.
- Because Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ is a conifer, it is toxic to cats and dogs, as well as to people. Although pets are highly unlikely to be tempted to nibble on blue star junipers, you should reach out to your veterinarian if this were to happen.
Blue Star Juniper Features: An Overview
- Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ is a densely-packed coniferous shrub with evergreen leaves (needles) that each have a length of between three and six inches. This cultivar is considered to be a dwarf shrub.
- When fully grown and mature, a blue star juniper plant can range in size from one to three feet tall and these shrubs have a spread of between one and half to three feet wide. They tend to grow outward rather than upward.
- These junipers grow into an irregular mound, making them perfect for people who prefer slightly less curated gardens.
- This is an exceptionally slow-growing conifer chosen for its attractive aesthetic features. If you look after your blue star juniper, it will add color to your garden for decades.
- A blue star juniper is an evergreen shrub with a distinctive silver-blue shade. It gets its very appropriate name because the foliage looks like little stars.
- The blue star juniper is incredibly easy to care for and maintain, and its charming looks will bring an oasis of peace to almost any garden.
- Although these evergreens do not flower, blue star junipers do have a woody scent, and their needles offer a hint of mountainous freshness.
- This conifer is very popular in the United Kingdom, where it was graced with an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Growing Blue Star Junipers
Blue star junipers famous for being low-maintenance plants. These shrubs might be extremely easy to look after and grow, but that doesn’t mean they thrive in all conditions, nor that you don’t need to prepare yourself if you’re hoping to enjoy healthy and strong Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ conifers in your garden.
Blue star junipers thrive in cooler climates and won’t do very well in hot and more humid areas, or areas that are prone to flooding. These shrubs should be placed in a location where they will receive full sun, meaning that they should also be planted away from taller shrubs and trees that would cast shade. They will be healthiest if they are able to consistently receive six hours of full sunlight a day.
In the United States, these plants tolerate hardiness zones four through eight very well. That means they’ll tolerate the snowy and cold conditions of Alaska, as well as more temperate, dryer, climates in the south of the US.
- Plant is delivered direct from our nursery in a 2-gallon trade pot. It is fully rooted in the soil and can be planted immediately upon arrival, weather permitting. We advise not to plant during frigid winter months or under drought conditions. Planting and how-to-care instructions will arrive with shipment
- For best results, plant in USDA Zones 4-8. Mature height is 2ft, mature spread is 3-4ft
- Dense, blue-green foliage color
- Plant remains dense throughout its life and has an extremely eye-catching rich blue color
- Grows well in full sun
- Bright, steel blue foliage on a chunky, mounded form.
- Best if planted in full sun
- Hardiness zones 4-7
- Plant may not look exactly as pictured due to plant growth stages
- Plant may ship dormant from October-April
- Grown, packaged and shipped exclusively by Florida Foliage. Attractive sparkling blue foliage on dense, spreading branches. Creates a colorful contrast to purple and green foliage plants. Use in a rock garden or as a low border plant. Ideal for mass plantings in minimal-care landscapes. Evergreen.
- This icy blue Juniper spreads but is not ground hugging. Instead it makes graceful wide mounds that are particularly lovely as individual specimens in fields of gravel or bark or as a groundcover. A good choice for banks and rock gardens, where it grows gracefully around landscape boulders. Adds accent to a mass of flatter Juniper used for erosion control on banks and slopes. Particularly lovely in raised or seat-wall planters.
- Easy to grow in average soils; prefers well-drained, sandy soil; avoid overly wet conditions. Water deeply and regularly during the first growing season to establish an extensive root system; reduce frequency once established. Feed with a general purpose fertilizer in spring. Rarely needs pruning except to shape as desired.
- This glowing evergreen shrub has radiant silver-blue foliage. Its mounding growth habit with dense coverage grows 3 feet high. Best performs as a border plant, small shrub, and rock garden.
- This low-maintenance evergreen needs a regular water schedule to ensure the growth of a mature root system. After the mature root system is established, watering is needed occasionally, except during a drought, watering is needed regularly. Pruning is not required.
When it comes to soil type, blue star junipers will do best in sandy and light soil or in a clay-based soil. However, this plant isn’t picky and will do alright in all kinds of soil types — and blue star junipers can cope with alkaline as well as slightly acidic soil. Blue star juniper do, however, need a well draining soil to succeed — water buildup is not good for these charming evergreen shrubs!
As far as fertilizer goes, blue star junipers are similarly non-demanding. It is only necessary to fertilize your blue star juniper during its first year, during late winter or when you notice the first hint of spring. The best approach would be to choose a general 10-10-10 fertilizer regimen. Once your blue star juniper matures, this will no longer be necessary — and you can instead use natural compost to enrich the soil in which your Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ is growing.
If you use mulch, which is recommended for young blue star junipers, keep it at least four inches away from the plant’s stem to make sure its growth and success is not impeded.
Blue star junipers are notoriously slow growers, and that means that they will rarely need to be pruned — another thing that makes this plant really low maintenance. These conifers do, on the other hand, experience sudden “growth spurts” every few years. Since they tend to grow wide rather than tall, you can expect your blue star juniper to spread out prolifically during these phases. Depending on your personal preference, this may be a time that calls for some light pruning.
You can even grow a blue star juniper plant in a container, since it naturally has a compact size and the plant grows slowly. If you want to, it is very possible to grow a blue star juniper in a container, including on a balcony.
Watering Blue Star Junipers
The blue star juniper plant, also known as the flaky juniper, will need regular watering during its first year, a practice that will give your young new blue star juniper the best chance of thriving. It’s incredibly important to not overwater your blue star juniper, as these evergreen shrubs do very poorly in overly wet conditions. Water your blue star juniper whenever you notice the top layer of the soil is dry, but take care not to offer this shrub too much water — keeping in mind that it is native to mountainous regions.
If you do accidentally give your blue star juniper too much water, this can lead to rot root — a common plant disease in which the roots of the plant rot, usually killing your plant.
After a blue star juniper’s first year of growth, you won’t generally need to water your blue star juniper anymore. However, if you are experiencing an exceptionally dry season and your shrub is looking a little under the weather, you may choose to water your Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ once a week.
Propagating Blue Star Junipers
It is notoriously difficult to propagate junipers from seed — add the fact that Juniperus squamata is also known as the singleseed juniper for good reason, and it will instantly become clear that this is not the best choice for the blue star juniper, either.
Juniper species should be propagated from cuttings, and the blue star juniper is no exception. Ripe, semi-hardwood, cuttings can be taken at any time in the late fall or winter period. As an alternative option, it is also possible to take fresh softwood cuttings from junipers during the late spring to mid-summer seasons.
Simply follow these steps to propagate junipers from cuttings:
- Offer your established juniper liquid fertilizer a few days before you are intending to take cuttings.
- Prepare a gallon-sized planter with a soil-less potting medium. Each cutting you are planning to plant will require its own one-inch hole.
- Next, identify suitable healthy branches on your established blue star juniper plant. The cuttings you take should be between eight and 10 inches (that’s around 20 to 25 centimeters) long, and taken with sharp pruning shears.
- Remove all needles from the bottom two inches (five centimeters) of the cutting.
- Using a sharp blade, such as a fresh box knife, cut inch-long on the bottom of the cutting’s external layer.
- Dip the end of your cutting in rooting hormone powder, and gently tap the cutting to remove any excess.
- The cutting can now be placed into the planter.
- Add short wooden stakes around the edge of the planter to support the new cutting’s growth. Repeat the entire process as often as you like, since you will likely take several cuttings.
- Next, cover the planter with a plastic covering.
- Your new cuttings will need to be warm and moist. They have the best chance of succeeding if you use a heating mat underneath the planter, which should be kept at temperatures of 60 to 65 °F (15 to 18 C). Your blue star juniper cuttings need to stay moist, and should be misted every day.
Root development will hopefully begin after a few weeks, and you can check that your cuttings are taking root after approximately a month. Do this by tugging on your blue star juniper cutting very gently. If it gives you any resistance at all, roots will have began to develop!
Once your cutting is ready to be transplanted to the garden, keep in mind that it will need a wide hole. Don’t dig deeply — your blue star juniper only needs to be placed as deeply as the root ball — but make sure that your young blue star juniper has plenty of space to proliferate.
Propagating blue star juniper shrubs is challenging, but once you have an established Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’ in your garden, these beautiful coniferous shrubs are low-maintenance. A few well-placed blue star juniper plants will instantly give the whole look of your garden a lift, and these dwarf shrubs remain attractive throughout the entire year.