TREES & plants

Japanese garden juniper

Japanese garden juniper has a low-growing habit.

Japanese garden juniper is a low-growing, ground-hugging evergreen reaching 6 to 12 inches high and eventually spreading 4 to 6 feet wide. Excellent as a ground cover, used to stabilize slopes or cascading over low walls. The blue-green foliage turns a slight purple in the winter.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name: 
Juniperus procumbens
All Common Names: 
Japanese garden juniper
Family (English): 
Family (Botanic): 
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Ground cover
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Foundation, 
  • Massing, 
  • Patio/sidewalk
Size Range: 
  • Small plant (6-12 inches)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Late winter, 
  • Early spring, 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Creeping
Growth Rate: 
  • Slow
More Information: 

Size & form

A low-spreading, ground-hugging evergreen shrub/ground cover reaching 6 to 12 inches high and 4 to 6 feet wide.  This is a trailing ground cover.  Trailing ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from central root system.  These stems spread out horizontally over the ground, but do not root to the ground.

Tree & Plant Care

Full sun in well-drained soil, pH adaptable.
Intolerant of wet soils.
Spreads at branch tips and can be pruned to maintain size.
Excellent cold hardiness.

Disease, pests, and problems

Phomopsis tip blight, root rot, cedar-apple-rust, webworm and spider mite.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Deer, drought, erosion, dry soil, rocky soil, air pollution.

Native geographic location and habitat

Found in the mountains of Japan.

Bark color and texture 

Wide-spreading, stiff branches.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate, prickly pointed needles in whorls of 3; blue green to gray green.
Can have a purplish tinge in winter.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Small, greenish pistillate and yellow staminate (male) flowers.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small cone.

Cultivars and their differences 

Green Mound Japanese Garden Juniper (Juniperus procumbens 'Green Mound'): Soft, ground-hugging, 8 to 10 inches high and 5 to 6 feet wide; blue-green needles do not winter brown, center does not mound as it spreads.

Nana Japanese Garden Juniper (Juniperus procumbens 'Nana'): 6 to 12 inches high and 4 to 6 feet wide, blue-green needles turn a purplish green in winter.

Juniperus procumbens or Japanese garden juniper