By: Teo Spengler
With a name like “Blue Star,” this juniper sounds as American as apple pie, but in fact it is native to Afghanistan, the Himalayas and western China. Gardeners love Blue Star for its thick, starry, blue-green foliage and its graceful rounded habit. Read on for more information about Blue Star juniper (Juniperus squamata ‘Blue Star’), including tips on how to grow a Blue Star juniper in your garden or backyard.
About Blue Star Juniper
Try growing juniper ‘Blue Star’ as either a shrub or a groundcover if you live in an appropriate region. It’s a lovely little mound of a plant with delightful, starry needles in a shade somewhere on the boundary between blue and green.
According to information about Blue Star juniper, these plants thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. The foliage is evergreen and the shrubs grow into mounds some 2 to 3 feet (.6 to .9 m.) high and wide.
You have to have patience when you start growing Blue Star, since the shrub doesn’t shoot up overnight. But once it gets settled in, it’s a champion garden guest. As an evergreen, it delights all year long.
How to Grow a Blue Star Juniper
Blue Star juniper care is a cinch if you plant the shrub correctly. Transplant the seedling into a sunny location in the garden.
Blue Star does best in light soil with excellent drainage but it won’t die if it doesn’t get it. It will tolerate any number of problem conditions (like pollution and dry or clay soil). But don’t make it suffer shade or wet soil.
Blue Star juniper care is a snap when it comes to pests and diseases. In short, Blue Star doesn’t have many pest or disease issues at all. Even deer leave it alone, and that is pretty rare for deer.
Gardeners and homeowners usually start growing junipers like Blue Star for the texture its evergreen foliage provides to the backyard. As it matures, it seems to undulate with every passing wind, a lovely addition to any garden.
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How to Care for Blue Star Juniper
Like all junipers, "Blue Star" juniper (Juniperus squamata "Blue Star") is a sun-loving, drought-tolerant plant that thrives with little maintenance. "Blue Star" juniper is a slow-growing, spreading plant that reaches heights of 2 to 3 feet, with a spread of 3 to 4 feet. The dramatic, silvery blue foliage adds interest to rock gardens, borders and mass plantings. "Blue Star" juniper is a hardy plant suitable for growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. The plant is deer-resistant and adapts well to coastal environments.
Water a newly planted "Blue Star" juniper regularly during the growing season to promote deep, healthy roots. Soak the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches to saturate the root zone, and then don't water again until the top 1 inch of soil feels dry. Don't water during the winter unless the weather is extremely dry. Juniper is a drought-tolerant plant that will be damaged or suffer from rot in overly wet soil.
Water an established juniper only if the plant looks dry. However, the plant rarely requires irrigation.
Feed juniper in early spring, using a dry fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 12-4-8. Apply the fertilizer at a rate of 1/2 pound for every 100 square feet of planting space.
Remove old, dead growth on the underside of the plant as needed to improve air circulation. Otherwise, never prune juniper heavily, as old wood doesn't produce new growth. Limit pruning to the tips of the plant or thin lightly to keep the plant neat.
Spray "Blue Star" juniper with insecticidal soap spray if the plant is bothered by pests such as aphids, scale, spider mites or leaf miners. Spray the plant thoroughly and repeat every four to seven days, as the spray kills only on contact and has no residual effect. Use a commercial spray, as homemade sprays made with liquid dish detergent are often too harsh and may damage the plant.
Great Design Plant: Juniperus Squamata ‘Blue Star’
Benefits and tolerances: Deer and rabbit resistant tolerant of air pollution drought tolerant once established
Seasonal interest: Year-round blue foliage that develops undertones of red and orange during winter
When to plant: Spring or fall is preferred.
Distinguishing traits. Its compact size and mounding shape set it apart from most other conifers. Additionally, it has softer foliage than many of the old-fashioned junipers that come to mind.
Shown: Blue Star juniper in the foreground
How to use it. Blue star juniper earns its place in the design color trinity of blue, chartreuse and red. It offers itself up as a calming, peaceful mediator when placed between plants in bright hues such as orange and pink.
Its mounding shape mimics that of boulders because of this it is a useful plant for creating juxtaposition in the garden.