All about Juniper > Cultivation

  • Family: Cupressaceae (conifers)
  • Climate: almost any
  • Culture: perennial
  • Soil: most soil types, but prefers fairly dry, sandy or rocky terrain
  • Sun: full sun or part shade
  • Height: 1.8 m or more - it will remain squat in windy areas and can reach 3 m in sheltered spots

A conifer with scaly evergreen leaves or needles, the juniper is a wild bush that is found in most regions of Europe. Its small black or purplish berries, gathered in October, are used for their perfume.

This decorative shrub, with a spreading, columnar or bushy appearance, is the pride of any gardener. It has spikes of pale greyish-green needle-thin leaves, striped with a white band on the top.

Only the female flowers produce fruit while the male flowers are found on another bush, requiring the help of bees or other winged creatures to reproduce.

Small cones appear on the base of the leaves in early summer. The sex of the flowers can be identified by the colour: a yellow cone for the male, a blue-green cone for the female. The fruition process is long as the berries take two to three years to ripen and become bright blue.

During the fall harvest the seeds are extracted so they can be sown immediately; however it takes three years before the seedlings can be transplanted.

Since the germination process is very long, juniper can also be propagated from cuttings by planting a branch in a mixture of peat and sand.

The harvest is carried out in the fall at which time the berries give off a heady scent of pine needles and are a beautiful bright or blackish blue. Since the stems are covered with sharp thorns, it is recommended that gloves be worn when picking the berries.

It is best to use fresh berries to preserve all their aroma. Alternately you can dry them on a fine-mesh screen in the sun or in a dry, well-aerated place.

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