Description & Overview

Mountbatten Juniper is a wonderful dwarf conifer with a symmetrical, pyramidal, and dense habit. Multi-stemmed and growing up to 12 to 15 feet tall with a spread of 6 to 8 feet Mountbatten is versatile in the landscape and low-maintenance. Its handsome gray-green foliage is needle-like and has good color retention throughout the year. Large and pretty powdery blue-colored berry-like cones are eye-catching and a great snack for songbirds, lasting from late spring through winter. Mountbatten is a cultivar of the Chinese Juniper (Juniperus chinensis) and is very hardy and adaptable to many soil conditions, making it a solid choice in the landscape.

Core Characteristics

Category: Conifer

Wisconsin Native: No - Introduced

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 4

Mature Height: 12-15 feet

Mature Spread: 6-8 feet

Growth Rate: Moderate

Growth Form: Pyramidal, dense

Light Requirements: Full Sun

Site Requirements: Average, well-drained

Flower: N/A

Bloom Period: N/A

Foliage: Gray-green

Fall Color: None

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Green maturing to powder blue “berries" (cones) from late spring to winter, 1/3"

Suggested Uses

Mountbatten Juniper must grow in full sun (8+ hours) and is intolerant of shade. Too little light and they will become thin and straggly. Junipers in general, will not tolerate excessively wet soils or prolonged flooding. They are highly tolerant of urban pollution, salt, drought, and deer and with a compact size perfect for urban landscapes.

If you’re looking to block out your neighbors and create some privacy, Mountbatten makes an excellent screen. The foliage is dense to the ground so there is no need for facer plants. Mountbatten can also be planted under power lines so you don’t have to worry about power companies carving an unsightly hole into your tree for access!
Aside from screening, do not count them out as border plants. What better way to delineate property boundaries than with a mass of foliage? Plant these in a single row or staggered for added depth and interest.

Mountbatten Juniper is also useful as an accent plant with its outstanding gray-green foliage or as a backdrop to low-growing shrubs and colorful perennials.

If you are looking for an evergreen to add to your bird garden consider a juniper. Birds are not only attracted to the fruit, but the density of foliage provides excellent cover. Watch the Cedar Waxwings dance in the treetops as they pick the berries. Note that a male Juniper must be planted with a female for fruit set to occur.

Wildlife Value

The large fruit of this cultivar is very attractive to birds, especially Cedar Waxwings, Robins, Bobwhite Quail, Evening Grosbeaks, Eastern Bluebirds, Brown Thrashers, Northern Mockingbirds, pheasants, and Wild Turkeys. Rabbits, foxes, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and opossums also eat the fruits. On a cold night, some birds may eat more than 200 berries!

Junipers provide good nesting and cover for many birds and they will use strips of bark to make their nests.

Maintenance Tips

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

Fertilization is not necessary and may even be counterproductive for this plant. Excessive fertilization will cause excessive growth and make the plant weaker. Keep in mind that the faster the plant grows, the sooner it will conflict with other plants or structures. Instead, water when needed and enjoy the plant for what it is.

Mountbatten shouldn’t need any pruning. In fact, Chinese Junipers don’t respond well to sheering, and shaping them into a shell of foliage will cause the interior to brown. If you have to bring out the pruners, it should be done while the plant is actively growing and new growth is visible. Sheer only the new foliage, not the old as bare branches and trunks do not produce new shoots.

One of the great attributes of Mountbatten Juniper is its strong central leader. Thanks to this, it stands a much better chance of being unbothered by snow damage. During times of heavy snowfall, some evergreens that have multiple trunks can be splayed open from the weight of the snow. Conifers with strong central leaders, like Mountbatten Juniper can hold themselves up to heavy snow.

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.

Aside from Rusts, Junipers can also be affected by issues related to poor airflow or constantly soggy soil. Phomopsis Tip Blight, Kabatina Tip Blight, and Abiotic Tip Blight can brown the tips of the trees in early spring or late winter and can progress inward if left unchecked. These diseases are caused by stress on the plant and are usually comorbid with overhead irrigation/sprinkler systems. Pruning the affected branches in winter and treating the plant with a fungicidal spray in spring can help, but you have to increase airflow and reduce the moisture on foliage to prevent the disease from persisting. Kabatina blight differs in that it needs an open wound to spread; therefore, pruning should be done in winter to prevent spores from moving within the plant.

Leaf Lore

Junipers are ancient trees and were used in myriad ways. The Greeks and Egyptians used Juniper incense as a protective service, while the Scots used it to cleanse and bless the home.

The stems have been used for the treatment of parasitic skin problems and rheumatism, while the fruit was used in the treatment of convulsions, excessive sweating, and hepatitis.

Juniper berries have been used as a seasoning and flavoring for millennia. From German Sauerbraten to the botanical bouquet of gin, these fruits are noted for their peppery taste. Common Juniper (Juniperus communis) is the species most frequently used for spices and gin as it’s the most intensely flavored.

Companion Plants

Intermingle species and varieties to create a mixed screen. Not only will you create incredible texture, but the diversity is great to prevent any species wipeouts (think ash trees). Variety is the spice of life! Try Burkii Juniper for a touch of purple in winter or the soft texture of a Techny Arborvitae. Mountbatten looks great in combination with Green Giant Arborvitae, Cypress Spruce, Star Power Juniper, Black Hills Spruce, or White Spruce.

Need more ideas for bird-friendly plants? How about Canadian Hemlock, Nannyberry Viburnum, Quaking Aspen, Yellow Birch, Common Ninebark, Gray Dogwood, American Filbert, Downy Serviceberry, or Hackberry.

Mountbatten Juniper is a wonderful dwarf conifer with a symmetrical, pyramidal, and dense habit. Multi-stemmed and growing up to 12 to 15 feet tall wi…
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Written by Beth DeLain