Size alone is not the key to success. This thesis not only applies to humans and animals, but also has a significant impact on the plant world. Small plants know only too well how to put themselves in the right light so as not to go unnoticed. The dwarf juniper is such a small master of the art of presentation, which not only has a majestic appearance, but can also boast a long lifespan. Its compact growth reveals character and thus a lot of big things in small things, and many a gardener sees the dwarf juniper as the ideal plant to perfect the artistic design of the garden or terrace.

Essential features

The dwarf juniper is originally native to arctic regions, but it also copes well with mountain air and the harsh climatic conditions associated with it. The low-lying shrub can be found in the high mountains of Europe or North America at altitudes of 1700 to 2500 meters, but also in more tropical mountains. It is not for nothing that the dwarf juniper has the nickname creeping juniper, because its lush, spreading growth is reminiscent of a dense carpet that gradually conquers the land and spreads creepingly over the entire ground. Due to these properties, the plant is ideal for planting graves or for beautifying rock gardens, plant bowls and flower boxes.

The needles of the plant are boat-shaped and end in a short spiked tip. The plant tips change from pointed to blunt. The underside of the needles is covered with a waxy substance that protects them from drying out and the cold. A special feature of the dwarf juniper is that it is dioecious and has separate sexes. It has spherical cones that are 4 to 9 millimeters in size and are brownish-black when ripe. These in turn contain seeds that are 3 to 4 millimeters in size. The actual pollen flight then takes place in late spring.
In addition, the evergreen and undemanding plant has the following growth characteristics:

  • growth height, 70 to 90 centimeters,
  • Growth width: 100 to 150 centimeters,
  • Growth rate: slow-growing, approx. 5 centimeters per year
  • can become 100 years and older,
  • Growth form: compact, wide and flat.

Ideal soil and site conditions

The dwarf juniper is widespread. Thus, its stocks are secured and it does not belong to the endangered species. But even if the plant is considered not very demanding, it does have some requirements for soil and location.

It loves dry, lean and barren soils, which can be acidic to alkaline, as well as a sunny to partially shaded location. If you plant a dwarf juniper between your rock garden, you will soon notice how the twigs begin to crawl over the rocks and completely absorb them.

If the dwarf juniper is kept in pots, then it can be outdoors all year round. It is robust enough to cope with temperature fluctuations. If it gets enough sunlight, it has the property of creating an excess of energy through the needles, in which it absorbs more oxygen and sugar than it actually needs. In turn, he puts this excess energy into the growth of the trunk. Furthermore, rain and wind contribute to the fact that the needles harden and thus become more resistant and robust against possible diseases or even pest infestation. The soil should always be well drained, as the dwarf juniper does not like wet feet and can react extremely sensitively to waterlogging, in the worst case with root rot.

Best planting time

If you want to establish a dwarf juniper in your garden landscape, you can choose a particularly beautiful specimen from your trusted gardener. The plant can be planted at any time, but the best time to plant is April. For planting, a nice place in the garden should first be found and then soil should be dug out at the desired location and mixed with moist peat. Peat enables an optimal start to growth and gives the plant all the necessary growth substances. Under no circumstances should compost or stable manure be used. Since the dwarf juniper is considered a deep root, the planting hole should be at least 60 centimeters deep.

The planting distance, in turn, depends on the purpose that the plant is intended to fulfil. Since it grows very slowly but still very luxuriantly, the planting distance can have a significant influence on its spread.

watering and fertilizing

Even if the dwarf juniper can survive longer periods of drought, the soil must not dry out completely. This would result in the very sensitive, fine roots dying off. Ideally, the soil is kept slightly moist, but waterlogging is to be avoided at all costs. If hot summer temperatures encourage the soil to dry out, then the dwarf juniper can be showered with stale tap or rain water. In this way, excess dust and dirt is also removed and the dwarf juniper feels reborn after this wellness treatment. If the plant is kept in bowls or buckets, these vessels can be placed in water until the roots have soaked up the liquid again.

The dwarf juniper is very frugal and requires little care and almost no fertilization. It may only be a little more during the growth phase. In the period from spring to autumn, you can help with organic fertilizers from specialist shops. You should ask a specialist dealer which type of fertilizer is best suited.

To cut

The dwarf juniper is very tolerant of pruning and can easily be brought into the desired shape. The best time for this is from spring to September. During the other months, pruning should be avoided, as rain or frost encourages the entry of pests or encourages diseases. Every 2 years you can thin out individual parts of the branches for a better incidence of light.


If the dwarf juniper is kept in bowls or tubs, repotting will be necessary after 4 to 5 years. The ideal time for these gardening activities is spring. During transplanting, the roots should be pruned. This stimulates faster branching of the root system. It is important to replace the used soil with about 2/3 new soil.


The dwarf juniper has a male and a female plant, which can be distinguished primarily by the shape of the flower. The male flower consists of clustered stamens and the female flower has three adjacent seed buds in which the berries ripen. However, this fact is of secondary importance for propagation, because the dwarf juniper can be propagated relatively easily by cuttings. To do this, a woody piece is cut off in late spring, freed from the needles and then stuck in pricking soil or another sandy, loose substrate. In addition, the cutting is covered with foil, brought to a bright, warm location and watered moderately. The rooting phase can be crowned with success as early as late summer.


The appearance of the dwarf juniper can be changed as desired by so-called wiring. It is best to use aluminum wire for this process, which can be wound in a spiral around twigs, branches or even the small trunk. Wrapping should be even, but not too tight. In the acute growth phase at the beginning of May, however, the wire should be removed again, as otherwise injuries or traces of wiring can occur on the trunk.


The special characteristics of the dwarf juniper are winter hardiness and robustness. Outdoors, it can withstand temperatures down to minus 26 degrees Celsius unscathed and does not need any special precautions to go into hibernation. For tub or pot plants, however, it is advisable to place the containers in some peat and cover the surface of the earth with a layer of substrate about 5 centimeters thick. Covering with a plastic film also prevents the soil from drying out in severe minus temperatures.

pests and diseases

Even if the dwarf juniper is considered to be extremely resilient, it should be checked for pests or pathological changes from time to time. Good observation skills make first aid measures much easier. A dying of the shoot tips, for example, can have very different causes. On the one hand, a lack of light or excessive frost can be responsible for this, on the other hand, the infestation of fungal species is also an option. However, the dying of the shoot tips is also a completely natural process that creates space for something new. It makes sense to pinch off the infested shoots and examine them for an infestation such as leaf miners. The site conditions can also be made more favorable.

A disease that is prevalent in our latitudes is the infestation of pear rust , a fungal disease. This can also be recognized by the discoloration of the needle or by a frequent fall of the needle. In this case, the dwarf juniper serves as a host plant, without which the pear rust would have no chance of surviving. From there, the fungi then attack the pear trees in the vicinity. A sensible way to combat it would be to tear out the infested juniper bushes. The use of chemical agents from specialist shops should be avoided if possible.

The dwarf juniper has so many positive qualities that it is almost impossible not to like it. Because of his heritage, he can get by with little and still make the most of it. The very decorative coniferous plant gets along well with other plants and makes every space a little uni. If you have a few patches of earth in your garden where nothing else would grow, the dwarf juniper breathes life into them and, with its dense growth, also gives small animals and insects a new home. It transforms rock gardens into a green paradise and also cuts a fine figure as a container plant on the terrace or balcony. A sunny to partially shaded location and a little water from time to time is all the undemanding plant needs to be happy.

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