Skyrocket Juniper

Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket'

The Skyrocket Juniper is one of the most popular fastigiate junipers for growing in gardens everywhere in the temperate world.

'Skyrocket' has a narrowly fastigiate form, and is probably the most upright and narrow of any conifer, possibly with the exception of Cupressus sempervirens 'Totem Pole'. The Skyrocket juniper has almost thread-like foliage of a mid-grey colour, but unless grown in perfect conditions some of the central trunk is usually displayed due to the thinness and sparseness of the foliage.

Because of this fault in 'Skyrocket' it has these days been superseded by similar but rather more densely furnished scopulorum forms, such as 'Blue Arrow', at least in England.

As a result of its narrow, upright shape, the Skyrocket juniper makes a very dramatic and striking contrast with low growing plants, or conifers whose foliage grows horizontally, such as Juniperus x media 'Gold Star' (syn. Juniperus chinensis 'Gold Star'). This dramatic effect can be very useful, but it does not have a restful effect upon the eye, so it depends upon what type of garden it is used in and the overall effect desired.

The name 'Skyrocket' strikes me as a little odd, the word 'sky' seeming superflous. In shape and form the plant resembles the exhaust flame from a rocket engine rather more than the shape of the rocket engine itself, I would say, or at least an upside-down rocket exhaust flame.

Growing Conditions

In general the Skyrocket juniper should be grown in free-draining soil, and does well in poor or impoverished soils. It will not tolerate boggy or water-logged soils but will grow in alkaline or acidic soils. It needs an open, sunny aspect with plenty of light. To grow well and look good this variety should not be starved of nutrients.

Use in the Garden

Skyrocket associates well with low-growing plants such as heathers, groundcover shrubs and similar plants. However, the Skyrocket juniper is also effective in a contemporary garden with grey-leaved plants such as cotton lavender and french lavender, for example, thymes and cistus. Try planting a group of Skyrocket of slightly different heights.

Other alternatives for a narrow fastigiate effect:

Cupressus sempervirens 'Totem Pole' (dark green), Cupressus sempervirens 'Swanes Gold' and the like (yellow), Juniperus communis 'Hibernica' (silvery-green) and Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Columnaris' (blue-grey). A miniature column suitable for an alpine garden or container is Juniperus communis 'Compressa'.

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Scientific rundown of what junipers are.

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How to use junipers in a garden design - avoid 'design errors' but use these fine plants to their full advantage.

How to grow Junipers in your garden
The cultivational requirements of juniper plants.

Juniper Resources & Links
Some of the best juniper resources and links.

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