How to Grow and Care for Taylor Juniper

Rows of Juniperus Virginiana 'Taylor'

Mark Bolin / Flickr

Taylor's juniper is a popular columnar form cultivar of Juniperus virginiana, eastern red cedar. It plays an important role in the nursery trade in areas where cold weather hardiness is important, and cedar apple rust has become more prevalent. The tree makes a terrific choice for people looking for an attractive, durable, and fast-growing substitute for arborvitae and Italian cypress.

Common Name Taylor's juniper
Botanical Name Juniperus virginiana 'Taylor'
Family Name Cupressaceae
 Plant Type Coniferous evergreen
 Mature Size 15-20 ft. tall, 3-4 ft. wide
 Sun Exposure Full sun 
 Soil Type Average, dry to moist, well-drained
 Soil pH Acidic soils
 Bloom Time Non-flowering
 Flower Color Non-flowering
 Hardiness Zones 4 to 9, USDA
 Native Area Eastern United States

Taylor Juniper Care

A simple tree to care for, Juniperus virginiana 'Taylor' is a great choice for people looking for a hedge or screen tree in a shared location with fruit trees because of its resistance to phomopsis juniper blight. Once planted in the right location and occasionally checked for issues, the tree is, for the most part, carefree unless an issue arises, which will be rare.

Light

Taylor juniper demand no less than full sun. It will show deficits in growth and color in anything less. The beautiful, rich blue-green foliage your tree is known for will appear lackluster in part shade. When creating a hedge be sure to plant your juniper with enough spacing between each tree to allow clearance for light to hit each side of the tree as it matures and the hedge grows. Allow the trees to grow into and create the hedge, do not do the work for them.

Soil

While the Taylor juniper is somewhat adaptable when it comes to soil it will thrive if planted in average soil that is somewhat moist but not wet. It will tolerate some dryness but will not tolerate wet soils at all, and therefore must have well-draining soil. The pH of your soil is another concern, anything lower than 7.0 is great. This should be tested, and amended before planting your tree. You can test it with a simple DIY pH testing kit.

Water

Addressing the water needs of your tree is important especially when you first plant it and it is still getting established. The Taylor juniper is a cultivar, and not the wild type of the species, so it is bred for horticultural use and therefore may not be as robust as trees that are naturally found in the forests. You will want to water your tree weekly with ten gallons of water per caliper inch of trunk diameter during the growing season for the first two years as it matures and establishes a good root structure. The roots are very shallow, so you must water slowly. Be careful not to overwater, or the tree may uproot itself.

After the tree establishes itself, you can taper supplemental watering off. This cultivar of Juniperus virginiana is able to tolerate some drought and even prefers it, so it is better to err on the side of under-watering than overwatering.

Temperature and Humidity

Taylor juniper as a cultivar is especially suitable for cooler temperatures compared to arborvitae and Italian cypress, making this an excellent tree to place in areas where the species will not work. Keeping it in its habitable range which is, USDA 4 through 9, will allow you to enjoy the benefits of a tall columnar conifer as a hedge or screen while allowing it to thrive where other trees of its type would struggle.

Fertilizer

Supplemental fertilizer is not necessarily needed but when dealing with ornamental evergreen conifers it is a good idea to give them a little boost with a fertilizer especially designed for evergreen conifers. The slow-release fertilizer spikes are an excellent solution that can be placed in the spring and done once a year.

Types of Taylor Junipers

Being a cultivar, there is only one type of Taylor juniper. If you enjoy the eastern red cedar and would like to explore the straight species look for Juniperus virginiana which has two distinct varieties and numerous other cultivars that come in various forms, sizes, colors, and habits.

Pruning

You should not have to do any pruning to your Taylor Juniper other then dead branches. The natural form of the cultivar is tall, slender and columnar with a pyramidal taper, the exact shape you would want from a coniferous evergreen hedge. Pruning may actually disrupt the cultivar's natural form.

Propagation

Propagation of the Taylor juniper is done through semi-hardwood cuttings. It is easy with just a few steps and very little material. Just follow these simple guidelines to start your cuttings in no time:

  1. Mix one part peat and one part perlite in a bucket, moisten evenly, and fill as many small pots as you need for the cuttings you will make.
  2. Prepare your shears by soaking them in alcohol or a solution of 1 part bleach nine parts water as you prepare your potting mixture.
  3. This year's growth removes about a six-inch cutting from the juniper, making a cut where new growth meets old growth.
  4. Strip the needles from the bottom, leaving only the top 1/3 on the cutting.
  5. Dip the cut end of the juniper stem in your rooting hormone of choice, coating it thoroughly.
  6. Insert the cutting into the potting mixture halfway, allowing it to stand freely.
  7. Spray the cutting and remoisten the soil with a misting of water and then cover with a clear plastic wrap.
  8. Place in a warm area with bright indirect light, removing the cover and misting daily.
  9. Remove the plastic cover once your cuttings have developed roots and allow them to harden up.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

One of the attractive features of the Taylor juniper is that the cultivar is reported to be cedar rust-resistant. Cedar rust is the biggest disease that affects the species. It alleviates the most serious disease worry that would hinder your tree's health and the trees in the surrounding landscape.

Taylor juniper has to deal with the normal insects that bother cedars, junipers, and the like. Keep an eye out for bagworms and mites. Bagworms can be manually removed by snipping the bags off with shears and destroying the bags. You can spray mites off with a strong hose, or you can treat the tree with insecticidal soap, and most of all, keeping the tree well-irrigated will ensure the tree stays healthy enough that it won't make an attractive target for the tiny pests.