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Moonglow Juniper Vs Wichita Blue Juniper

When it comes to adding junipers to your landscape, two popular varieties that often come up in discussions are the Moonglow Juniper and the Wichita Blue Juniper. Both of these evergreen shrubs are known for their striking blue-green foliage and their ability to thrive in a variety of growing conditions. In this article, we will take a closer look at these two juniper varieties, compare them side by side, and provide insights from professionals in the field.

Moonglow Juniper, also known as Juniperus scopulorum ‘Moonglow’, is a medium-sized evergreen shrub that typically grows to about 6-8 feet tall and wide. It is prized for its silvery-blue foliage that takes on a purplish hue in winter. On the other hand, the Wichita Blue Juniper, or Juniperus scopulorum ‘Wichita Blue’, is a slightly smaller variety that grows to about 4-6 feet tall and wide. It features a dense, pyramidal growth habit and intense blue-green foliage that holds its color well throughout the year.

To help you decide which juniper variety is right for your landscaping needs, let’s explore some key differences between Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers.

Moonglow Juniper vs. Wichita Blue Juniper: A Comparison

1. Size and Growth Habit:

Moonglow Juniper tends to have a more upright and narrow growth habit compared to the dense and pyramidal shape of the Wichita Blue Juniper. This difference in growth habit can influence where you choose to plant these shrubs in your landscape.

Professional Landscape Designer: “The Moonglow Juniper’s tall and slender form is perfect for creating vertical interest in a garden. On the other hand, the Wichita Blue Juniper’s compact shape works well as a low hedge or border plant.”

2. Foliage Color:

While both juniper varieties feature blue-green foliage, Moonglow Juniper has a silvery-blue hue that can appear almost iridescent in certain lighting conditions. In contrast, Wichita Blue Juniper has a deeper blue-green color that holds up well in hot and dry climates.

Professional Horticulturist: “The unique coloration of Moonglow Juniper can add a touch of ethereal beauty to any garden setting. However, if you’re looking for a more traditional blue-green juniper, the Wichita Blue variety is a reliable choice.”

3. Hardiness and Climate Adaptability:

Both Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers are hardy plants that can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, including drought and poor soil. However, Moonglow Juniper is known for its superior cold hardiness, making it a better choice for northern climates.

Professional Arborist: “If you live in a region with harsh winters, the Moonglow Juniper is a tough and resilient option that can withstand freezing temperatures without issue. On the other hand, the Wichita Blue Juniper may struggle in extremely cold climates.”

4. Pruning and Maintenance:

Moonglow Juniper requires minimal pruning to maintain its natural shape, while Wichita Blue Juniper may benefit from occasional pruning to promote dense growth and shape the shrub as desired.

Professional Gardener: “Moonglow Juniper is a low-maintenance plant that is perfect for busy gardeners who want a fuss-free addition to their landscape. If you enjoy shaping your shrubs and keeping them neatly trimmed, the Wichita Blue Juniper offers more flexibility in terms of pruning.”

5. Soil Preferences:

Both juniper varieties prefer well-drained soil and are moderately drought-tolerant once established. However, Moonglow Juniper is more adaptable to a wider range of soil types, including clay and sandy soils.

Professional Soil Scientist: “If you have challenging soil conditions in your garden, such as heavy clay or sandy soil, the Moonglow Juniper’s versatility makes it a more forgiving option. On the other hand, the Wichita Blue Juniper thrives in well-drained soil with good fertility.”

6. Uses in Landscaping:

Moonglow Juniper is often used as a focal point in the garden, thanks to its tall and slender form that adds vertical interest. Wichita Blue Juniper, on the other hand, is commonly planted as a low hedge, border plant, or ground cover due to its compact growth habit.

Professional Landscape Architect: “When designing a landscape, consider the role that each juniper variety can play in creating visual interest. Moonglow Juniper works well as a standalone specimen plant, while Wichita Blue Juniper excels in mass plantings or as a border along pathways.”

7. Deer Resistance:

Both Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers are known for their deer-resistant qualities, making them excellent choices for gardens where deer browsing is a concern. The aromatic foliage of junipers acts as a natural deterrent to deer and other browsing animals.

Professional Wildlife Biologist: “If you live in an area with high deer populations, planting deer-resistant shrubs like Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers can help protect your garden from browsing damage. These juniper varieties are not favored by deer due to their strong scent and prickly foliage.”

Common Concerns and Answers:

1. Are Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers prone to pests and diseases?

Both juniper varieties are relatively pest and disease-resistant, but they may be susceptible to spider mites, scale insects, and fungal diseases in humid conditions. Proper cultural practices, such as planting in well-drained soil and providing adequate air circulation, can help prevent these issues.

2. How often should I water Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers?

Junipers are drought-tolerant plants that prefer dry conditions once established. Water newly planted shrubs regularly to help them establish a strong root system, then gradually reduce watering frequency to once every 1-2 weeks during dry periods.

3. Can I plant Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers in containers?

Both juniper varieties can be grown in containers, but they may require more frequent watering and fertilization compared to plants in the ground. Choose a well-draining potting mix and monitor soil moisture levels regularly to ensure the health of container-grown junipers.

4. Do Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers require full sun or partial shade?

Junipers prefer full sun to thrive and develop their best coloration. Plant Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers in a sunny location with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day for optimal growth and foliage color.

5. How do I fertilize Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers?

Junipers are light feeders that require minimal fertilization. Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring to promote healthy growth, or use a specialized fertilizer formulated for evergreen shrubs according to package instructions.

6. Are Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers invasive?

While junipers are not considered invasive plants, they can spread by seed in the right conditions. To prevent self-seeding, prune off any fruiting structures (juniper berries) before they mature and remove any volunteer seedlings that may appear in the garden.

7. Can I use Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers in xeriscape designs?

Junipers are well-suited for xeriscape or drought-tolerant landscapes due to their water-wise characteristics. Plant Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers in well-drained soil, mulch around the base of the shrubs to retain soil moisture, and reduce irrigation once the plants are established.

8. How do I propagate Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers?

Junipers can be propagated from stem cuttings, seeds, or by layering. Softwood cuttings taken in early summer or hardwood cuttings taken in late winter can be rooted in a well-draining propagation mix to create new plants.

9. Are Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers suitable for coastal gardens?

Junipers are tolerant of salt spray and coastal conditions, making them ideal choices for coastal gardens. Plant Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers in well-drained soil and provide some protection from strong winds to help them thrive near the coast.

10. Do Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers attract pollinators?

Junipers produce small inconspicuous flowers that are wind-pollinated rather than attracting bees or other pollinators. However, the berries of junipers can provide food for birds and wildlife in the garden.

11. Can I prune Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers into topiary shapes?

Junipers are amenable to shaping and pruning, making them popular choices for topiary and formal garden designs. Use sharp pruning shears to trim the shrubs into desired shapes, such as spirals, cones, or balls.

12. How do I protect Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers from winter damage?

Junipers are generally hardy plants that can withstand cold temperatures, but winter damage may occur in extreme conditions. Mulch around the base of the shrubs in late fall to insulate the roots and protect them from freezing.

13. Are Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers compatible with other plants in a mixed border?

Junipers can be paired with a wide range of plants in mixed borders, including ornamental grasses, perennials, and other evergreen shrubs. Consider the growth habits, water requirements, and sunlight preferences of companion plants when designing a mixed border with junipers.

14. Can I use Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers in firewise landscaping?

Junipers are fire-resistant plants that can help create defensible space in fire-prone areas. Plant Moonglow and Wichita Blue Junipers in conjunction with other firewise plants and maintain a clear zone around structures to reduce the risk of wildfire damage.

15. How do I rejuvenate an overgrown or leggy Moonglow or Wichita Blue Juniper?

If your juniper shrubs have become overgrown or leggy, consider rejuvenation pruning to restore their shape and vigor. Cut back one-third of the oldest branches to ground level in late winter to encourage new growth and rejuvenate the plants.

In summary, both Moonglow Juniper and Wichita Blue Juniper are excellent choices for adding color, texture, and structure to your landscape. Consider the specific growing conditions in your garden, your desired aesthetic preferences, and the intended use of the shrubs when selecting between these two juniper varieties. Whether you opt for the tall and slender beauty of Moonglow Juniper or the compact and vibrant Wichita Blue Juniper, you can enjoy the beauty and resilience of these popular evergreen shrubs in your outdoor space.