Today’s plant profile is on the Hollywood Juniper, otherwise known as Juniperus chinensis ‘Torulosa’. While we’re on names, it also goes by Juniperus chinensis ‘Kaizuka’ so don’t be confused if you see it listed as this at your local nursery.
The Hollywood Juniper is a fast growing large shrub or small tree that tops out around 15′ tall and 10′ wide. With selective pruning, you can keep it smaller to fit a particular area such as a corner of a house. Its bluish-green color lends itself to many backgrounds, including brick walls and houses as well as fences and siding. It has an interesting twisting habit with two to three leaders. If you like your garden to be perfectly symmetrical, this is not the plant for you. But if you enjoy a more whimsical, natural landscape, this plant can fit into almost any garden.
Hollywood Juniper derives its common name from its popularity in Los Angeles area gardens but it is perfectly at home in the Mid-Atlantic gardening region as well. Thriving in full sun, it is content with minimal water once established. Its boastful branches maintain their bluish-green color throughout the winter and don’t turn purple in cold weather as some junipers do. Hollywood Juniper is cold hardy through Zone 5 (-20°F) so it comes through the other side of Mid-Atlantic winters unscathed.
When siting it in the landscape, care should be taken to not locate it under eaves where snow falling from the roof in sheets could land. Some snow here and there falling isn’t a problem but if you have a particularly steep roof slope that sheets of snow descend from, pick another area of the garden to display this beauty. The Hollywood Juniper makes a beautiful specimen in the landscape but it can also be used as a privacy hedge or windbreak as well. It is salt tolerant so for all of you coastal folks, this makes a particularly adaptable shrub. And it’s deer resistant as well. The only real cultural requirement that this plant has is its need for well-drained soil. Don’t place it in a low or consistently wet area or you’ll end up with an Addams Family juniper.
Birds enjoy the evergreen foliage and can often be found nesting in the protective branches during the winter. It sports small blue berries in the winter months that add to its attractiveness to birds. Hollywood Juniper is practically bulletproof when it comes to pests and diseases. If planted in well-drained soil, you shouldn’t have any issues with root rot or other scourges.
Now I must confess that I generally despise junipers as a whole. There are only two that I can tolerate and they are the Hollywood Juniper and the Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Perhaps it is due to the volume of junipers I have encountered in my professional career or the vast quantities of bermudagrass that tend to rear their ugly heads through patches of juniper…either way, I am not a fan of junipers with these two exceptions. The Hollywood Juniper is truly a gem that stands out in a sea of otherwise overused species and cultivars. I’d love to hear how you’ve used Hollywood Juniper in your landscape…leave me a comment in the section below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy gardening!