Junipers are often considered to be nothing more than a low-cost filler shrub for the landscape. However, in recent years, new varieties have appeared with stunning foliage colors such as silvery blue, golden yellow and variegated. Many of these recent additions are ground covers or small shrubs, which make them ideal for smaller yards. Growing junipers is easy, as they are drought-tolerant and low maintenance.
Juniperus squamata, also known as the Blue Star juniper, exhibits distinct bluish coloration with silver overtones. Foliage is dense and thick, with needles that form a distinct star-like shape at the terminal ends. Growing only 2 feet tall by 4 feet wide, Blue Star fits easily among larger shrubs in contrasting colors, such as barberry. This is one of the best junipers for small gardens. Juniperus squamata will grow in most soils, with the exception of very wet clay. The shrubs are drought-tolerant with age, but high heat and humidity in southern growing zones can cause the plant to decline. It is hardy in zones 4 through 8.
Juniperus Chinensis x Pfitzeriana
Also known as Gold Lace juniper, this shrub is a cross between J. chinensis and J.pfitzeriana, which gives it height and striking coloration. Dark green foliage has vibrant yellow needle tips, giving the appearance of sunlight shining on the plant. Gold Lace grows a bit larger than most decorative junipers, up to 5 feet high and wide. Soil should be well drained, as this variety may be affected by diseases in consistently wet soil. It is hardy in zones 4 through 9.
Juniperus virginiana, or Grey Owl silver juniper, has fine, lacy foliage that is light silvery grey. Its delicate appearance and fine texture make it a good foil for trees and shrubs with larger foliage, such as certain Japanese maples. Grey Owl grows 2 to 3 feet tall, and 5 feet in diameter. As an added bonus, branch tips will gain a reddish purple flush in cold weather. It is hardy in growing zones 3 through 8.
Moonglow Columnar juniper grows as a dense, upright pyramidal shrub, with glowing silvery-blue foliage. It reaches a maximum height of 10 feet tall by only 3 feet wide. Size can be easily controlled by shearing in early summer, and this shrub makes an excellent topiary specimen with its columnar form and dense foliage. Well-drained soil is necessary for the health of this juniper, which is hardy in zones 4 through 7.