Miniature Garden Plant Focus: The Dwarf Miniature Juniper
Can’t see your miniature garden because it’s buried in snow?
Hopefully you have chosen the right kind of trees and plants in your miniature garden that can endure the cold and freezing, right?
I know you’ve heard me extol the virtues of Junipers as great miniature garden plants for the hot weather. They love the full sun and drier soil but they are the best troopers in the winter months too. We can use them with success in containers and right in the garden bed to give us year ‘round interest and color, even in the coldest climates.
So today, we focus on the Miniature Juniper or Juniperus communis ‘Miniature.’
This Miniature Juniper is a version of the popular ‘Compressa’ Juniper. Its shape is the same upright column, but it is a bit wider and more cone-shaped than the slender Compressa. The Miniature Juniper can tolerate the wind, cold and reflected sun much better too.
It wears a beautiful green-gray color that gets a little bit of a blush in the colder weather. The fine texture of the foliage is wonderful to work with because it can be easily complimented to match or contrast a variety of miniature garden bedding plants (a.k.a. groundcovers. ;o)
Cold hardy from zones 2 through 6 means it can handle temperatures down in to -50F. This makes it great for pots in the freezing climates too.
Heat hardiness is zones 6 through 1, which means it can tolerate an average of 60 days over 86F. If you are planting them in a container, watch the watering in the hot months and let them dry out to barely damp to avoid over-watering.
Oh, and I must point out that the Miniature Juniper is really a dwarf with a growth rate of 3” to 6” (it’s slower in the NW!) and this is a perfect example of what I preach to be wary of when looking for plants to use in your mini garden. The grower uses the word ‘Miniature’ because it sound cute, not because it is a true miniature with a growth rate less than 1” per year.
Great pairing plants for the miniature gardener are:
– Miniature and Dwarf Mugo Pines
– Groundcover Sedums of any type
– Hen and Chicks, (Sempervirens)
– Groundcover Thymes of any type
All these plants match the light, water and soil requirements of the Miniature Juniper for a successful miniature garden combination that will last over the years with minimal care.
So next time you are looking for a reliable plant for your miniature or fairy garden, consider the Miniature Juniper or any type of baby Juniper for that matter. They are one of the most underused types of dwarf trees and shrubs for miniature gardening and yet, the lowest maintenance. It’s simply reliable evergreen color that fits a multitude of climates and conditions.
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help; my miniature juniper is turning brown; what am I doing wrong; I mist it daily but don’t overwater. I put it in the sun during the day but on my protective porch at night. can it be saved?
Hi Iris, You might be able to save it.
Try these steps:
– stop misting it
– trim off the brown parts
– place the container in full sun but not that hot afternoon sun – and leave it there, the east side of the house is good
– let it dry out to just barely damp in between watering
The Junipers are fairly hardy, so it won’t need much protection. You don’t mention where you are, but they are hardy to -30F. They can handle full sun, it’s just that hot afternoon sun that will dry out the container too much too often. They like sharp drainage because they don’t like their roots too wet so make sure you have some drainage material like vermiculite in your soil mix. If the Juniper has been in the container for more than 2 years, feed it with some Osmocote right away. Then feed it again next spring. Don’t feed it again this year as you want it to go dormant in the fall. (Only conifers in containers need fertilizing.