Plant taxonomy classifies Blue Star juniper as Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star'. As always when discussing plant classification, the part of the name in single quotes is the cultivar name. And what is the origin of the common name? Well, in addition to the fact that the needles are a strong blue color, 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.
These plants are classified botanically as needled evergreen shrubs. The needles are awl-shaped, unlike the long, slender needles with which many people are most familiar that grow on eastern white pine trees. These bushes are also considered conifers and are members of the cypress family.
What This Bush Looks Like
Blue Star juniper is a needled evergreen with silvery-blue foliage. The shrub has densely-packed foliage. 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. For example, one reader reports that hers has a width of 5 feet after growing in her yard for over a decade. Another gardener speaks of a 10-year-old bush that measures about a 1.5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. For several years, its size increased hardly at all. Once it had been around for 7 or 8 years, though, he noticed that the bush seemed to 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.
Growing Zones, Sun and Soil Needs, Plant Care Tips
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. 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. Just 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! They are relatively drought-tolerant shrubs once mature.
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 pests do not eat them (probably because the foliage is so bristly), making them one of the deer-resistant shrubs valued in deer-infested areas such as Connecticut (USA). Fertilize your plants by applying compost to the soil.
Uses for Blue Star Juniper in the Yard
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). Looking for a striking landscape color scheme? The bluish color of Blue Star juniper goes well with plants with golden foliage.
The closest relative of Blue Star juniper is J. squamata 'Meyeri.' In fact, the former is a sport of the latter. 'Meyeri' has a more upright habit, so it would not work as well where a short, spreading shrub is needed. But many other shrubs belong to the Juniperus genus. The various types of creeping junipers make for the best ground covers. Those neatly-trimmed pom-pom bushes (J. chinensis 'Pfitzeriana Glauca') that you have probably seen in people's yards are an example of medium-sized members of the genus. J. virginiana, meanwhile, can become a tall tree (30 to 65 feet high); it is one of the salt-tolerant plants.