Description & Overview

Burkii Juniper is a cultivar of the Wisconsin native conifer, Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), and is a handsome, durable, and versatile conifer. Notable for their resiliency, Burkii Juniper, and Eastern Red Cedar in general, can grow just about anywhere, even in those areas where nothing seemed to live. Attractive steel blue foliage holds its color all summer long and in winter, a beautiful purplish-bronze cast appears. Growing to heights of 20 to 30 feet with a spread of 6 to 10 feet, Burkii Juniper is an excellent specimen with a narrow, pyramidal habit and thin, erect, densely intertwining branches and fragrant foliage. This cultivated variety is male and does not produce fruit.

Core Characteristics

Category: Conifer

Wisconsin Native: No

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 20-30 feet

Mature Spread: 6-10 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Columnar, narrow, pyramidal

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Site Requirements: Average, well - drained

Flower: N/A

Bloom Period: N/A

Foliage: Steel blue, mildly fragrant

Fall Color: Purple - bronze

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Male cultivar and fruitless

Suggested Uses

Burkii Juniper needs to grow in full sun, and anything less will cause a much more open habit that can sometimes look straggly. Junipers cannot tolerate wet feet, and Burkii is no exception. If subjected to flooding or standing water for too long, it will quickly die. Be sure to site these guys in a sunny, well-draining location.

Junipers tolerate pollution and salt and Burkii does well planted along busy roads, driveways, street medians, and highways.

If you need to block out your neighbors or their view into your home, Burkii makes a terrific privacy screen. Use them to hide utility boxes, sheds, or whatever you don’t want to see!

As a male cultivar without berries, Burkii is an excellent variety of Juniper to plant around a deck, patio, or pool, where the messy fruit (and thus messy birds!) would otherwise be an issue.

With its steel blue foliage, Burkii stands out against other dark green evergreens. Create a mixed evergreen screen or conifer garden by interspersing spruce, pines, and other Juniper varieties of different heights for a pleasing mix of textures and colors.

Wildlife Value

Even as a fruitless male cultivar, Burkii Juniper does benefit wildlife. The dense foliage and branches provide refuge, shelter, and nesting opportunities for songbirds and gamebirds, as well as important cover for animals. Quail, Ruffed Grouse, pheasants, and Wild Turkey often seek shelter within Junipers.

It is the host plant for the Cockerell’s moth (Diedra cockerellana), Many-lined Angle (Macaria multilineata), Juniper Seed Moth (Argyresthia alternatella), Juniper Geometer (Patalene olyzonaria), and the Juniper Tip moth (Glyphidocera juniperella).

Maintenance Tips

Water deeply in the first year to establish a healthy, resilient root system. Once established, Burkii is drought tolerant. Maintaining a healthy 3″ thick mulch around the tree can negate the need for watering entirely depending on your soil.

Burkii Juniper is an easy-growing, low-maintenance plant, requiring little to no pruning to maintain its form. If pruning is desired, the best time to do so would be when the plant is dormant, in late fall, winter, and early spring.

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: Yes
Rabbit Resistant: Yes

With its spiky foliage, deer generally leave this plant alone; however, during times of food scarcity, they will browse this species.

Junipers are generally free of pests and diseases. When sited properly there are rarely issues with Mountbatten Juniper. Usually, any issues are the result of poor drainage, mechanical damage from people and animals, and/or lack of sunlight.

Rusts (Gymnosporangium) are the most significant fungal disease of Juniper. Juniper is an alternate host for the fungus, which completes the other half of its cycle on plants in the Rosaceae family such as Serviceberry, Apples, Hawthorns, and Pears. The damage on Junipers is a few weird-looking galls and some twig dieback that can be pruned out. The damage is more significant on the alternate hosts previously mentioned and can cause ugly foliage damage or weird growths.

Don’t write off Juniper though! Most references to rust management recommend avoiding the planting of Junipers near hosts within one to three miles. This is sensible to a point-if the fungus needs two plants to grow on, take out the common denominator of Juniper. That said, unless you live on a huge lot (think 500+ acres) AND you’re planting apple/hawthorn/pear in the center of that lot AND you’re positive that there are no Junipers nearby, rust will likely occur at some point. Thankfully, the damage on both host plants is usually minor. Should you plant a Juniper right next to your susceptible plant? Probably not. If you’re planting them on opposite sides of the house or one in the backyard and one by the driveway, you’re likely not going to have an issue.

Bagworm larvae may sometimes happen, but they can be difficult to spot until they’ve already formed their bags and begun chewing. Inspect your trees in the fall when eggs are laid, and again in May through June when they hatch. The least damaging removal method is hand-picking or cutting the bags from the plants. If this is too difficult (and gross), contact an arborist for assistance.

Leaf Lore

When discussing the mother plant of Burkii Juniper, the Eastern Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), the common name “cedar” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s actually a Juniper, as no true cedars are native to North America.

The wood of Eastern Red Cedar is often used to line cedar chests because the odor repels moths.

Eastern Red Cedar is among the best trees for protecting soils from wind and erosion thanks to its ability to withstand drought, heat, and cold. A shallow, fibrous root system holds well, especially on shallow soils.

The oldest known Eastern Red Cedar was found in Missouri and aged to be 795 years old!

Companion Plants

If planting in an area with heavy salt, consider companions that can handle the same conditions and full sun. Options include Bur Oak, Japanese White Pine, Northern Catalpa, Horsechestnut, Ginkgo, Common Witchhazel, Calico Aster, Switch Grass, or Little Bluestem.

Plant colorful perennials and shrubs in front of Burkii such as Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle, St. John’s Wort, Purple Prairie Clover, Pale Purple Coneflower, Prairie Blazing Star, or Prairie Dropseed.

Burkii Juniper is a cultivar of the Wisconsin native conifer, Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), and is a handsome, durable, and versatile coni…
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Written by Beth DeLain