Every week on GardenLine on WXTK I start the show off with “I Love This Plant/I Hate This Plant.” One look at the titles of most of these blog posts will show you that the plants I love far outnumber the ones I hate. Frankly, there are far more plants that I feel neutral about than there are plants I dislike. I am not fond of blue rug junipers, however, and here’s why.
Name: Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’ aka blue rug juniper
Type of Plant: Drought tolerant plant for full sun and dry conditions. Hardy in zones 3 to 9
Why I Love/Hate this plant: I hate this plant because as it ages it isn’t very attractive and as a groundcover it doesn’t do its job well. What appears to be thick, bluish foliage when the plant is young quickly grows into a sprawling, bare-stemmed plant with attractive growth on the end of the plant but bare stems and dying older foliage on the inside. These bare areas allow weeds to grow in those spaces, and soon the plants are weed ridden and unattractive. Since the plants are prickly, pulling weeds out is not fun!
A Word to the Wise: Junipers are good plants for dry areas, but some do their job better than others. Where the green mound juniper (Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’) grows tightly enough to keep most weeds away, blue rug is just the opposite. If you must grow it (why?) try planting them two to three feet apart so that the green growth of one will move into and over the bare areas on neighboring plants.