Blue Star juniper is a needled evergreen shrub with silvery-blue, densely-packed foliage. If you take a bird's-eye view of the shrub, you will notice that the clusters of needles atop the tiny stems resemble stars. The needles are awl-shaped, unlike the long, slender needles with which many people are most familiar that grow on eastern white pine trees. A member of the cypress family, this shrub is a conifer. The female cones are berry-like, with one seed. This slow-growing plant is a dwarf, forming a compact mound that reaches just 1 to 3 feet in height at maturity. It tends to grow out rather than up. Along with certain types of wildflowers and native plants, this may be one of the lowest-maintenance plants you could possibly choose to grow in the landscape.
- Botanical Name: Juniperus squamata "Blue Star"
- Common Name: Blue star juniper, flaky juniper, Himalayan juniper, singleseed juniper
- Plant Type: Needled evergreen shrub
- Mature Size: 1 to 3 feet tall, 1.5 to 3 feet wide
- Sun Exposure: Full sun
- Soil Type: Sandy
- Soil pH: 7 to 7.5
- Bloom Time: None
- Flower Color: None
- Hardiness Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
- Native Area: Mountainous regions of Asia including the Himalayas, Afghanistan, and China
How to Grow Blue Star Juniper
As dwarf shrubs, blue star junipers are effective specimens for very small spaces, such as in plantings for narrow patio areas or in foundation beds. For larger spaces, they can be used as edging plants or as ground covers. Because they are drought-tolerant once established, they are a good choice if you wish to include a dwarf shrub in your rock garden (they are not suited to small rock gardens but could work in larger ones). The bluish color of Blue Star juniper goes well with plants with golden foliage.
Plant new shrubs in a shallow, broad hole that is as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. Add some compost to the soil and replace the soil up to the base of the plant. Give the new plant a good watering. cover the ground around it with a 2-inch layer of mulch, but keep the mulch 4 inches away from the stem. Water new plants weekly during the first growing season.
Any disease or bug-pest problems will generally occur on these shrubs only in hot, humid regions. One such problem is spider mites. If you detect spider mites on your plant in time, you can simply hose the bush down with a very strong spray. This may knock the pests off. Check your bush regularly thereafter to ensure that the spider mites do not return. Repeat the hosing-down as needed. Deer do not eat blue star junipers (probably because the foliage is so bristly), making them a deer-resistant shrub.
The blue star juniper does well in a variety of soil types, so long as they are well-drained, but its natural preference is for light, sandy soil. It does well in slightly alkaline soil.
Make sure to water these dwarf evergreen shrubs properly their first year in the yard so that they can become established, then let them go. Water established plants occasionally when they look dry, or more often in extreme heat, keeping in mind this plant doesn't like overly wet conditions. They are relatively drought-tolerant shrubs once mature.
Temperature and Humidity
Having developed in the mountains of Asia, the blue star juniper will not do well in areas with high heat and humidity.
You will only need to fertilize blue star juniper in the late winter or early spring of its first year. Use a general 10-10-10 fertilizer. Once established, it won't need routine fertilization. Fertilize your plants by applying compost to the soil.
The closest relative of Blue Star juniper is J. squamata "Meyeri." In fact, the blue star juniper is a sport of the Meyeri, which has a more upright habit, so it would not work as well where a short, spreading shrub is needed.
Their slow growth rate means that Blue Star juniper shrubs hardly ever have to be pruned unless you are trying to fit them into an area with very little room.
One thing to be aware of is that this plant can experience a growth spurt after several years. One plant could have a width of 5 feet after growing in a yard for over a decade. A 10-year-old bush may measure about a 1.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide and, for several years, experience no increase in size. But after living for seven or eight years, though, the bush may spread at a more rapid rate than it had previously. So if you are seeking to fit it into a tight spot and then just forget about it (that is, no pruning) for years and years, be aware that it may sneak up on you, size-wise, after a certain point in time.