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Juniper is a plant that belongs to the Cupressaceae family, to the Juniperus genus and to the communis species.
It is a shrub that has a development that can reach up to three meters in height and can assume a bushy habit, with extremely branched stems and which produce a considerable amount of resin.
The juniper bark has a reddish-brown color and has the particular characteristic of detaching longitudinally in flakes.
The juniper leaves have the particular characteristic of being evergreen, needle-like, pointed at the apex and aggregate in groups of three near each node.
It is a dioecious plant and, for this reason, the male and female flowers develop on different plants.
The fruits, on the other hand, have the characteristic of remaining on the plant for about 2-3 years and ripening gradually: this explains the reason why on the same specimen we can find ripe berries and green galbuli; within the first we will find about 2-3 fertile and remarkably angular seeds.
The fruits represent the only part of the plant that is used for different purposes.
Climate and terrain
Juniper is a plant that prefers all those areas that can boast of temperate climates, since it has a good resistance to high and low temperatures and develops very well even in mountain areas, where there are particularly harsh winter seasons.
Juniper trees take on a particular dwarf and prostrate bearing.
The most suitable exposures for these trees correspond to those completely sunny or slightly shaded places, without necessarily being sheltered from the wind, because it is a tree that has a good level of tolerance towards this atmospheric agent.
Juniper develops very well on loose, medium-textured, neutral or slightly alkaline soils, while it absolutely does not tolerate stony and clayey soils, as long as they are not excessively compact and asphyxiated.
The juniper species comes from the Mediterranean basin and from North America: it develops remarkably spontaneously in completely arid places and in uncultivated fields near the sea and in coniferous woods.
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The cultivation of juniper is characterized by being particularly widespread in all those family gardens, with a clear ornamental purpose, but also to implement reforestation, for wood and in pots as bonsai.
As for pruning, it is an operation that must be carried out during the winter season and all dry, damaged branches placed in a shady and vertical position must be removed.
Towards the end of the spring season, however, shortenings must be carried out on the shoots that are too vigorous, which have a tendency to come out of the shape of the plant.
During the period in which the soil is prepared, it is necessary to provide for the distribution of mature manure, while in the years following planting the fertilization must be carried out by administering slow-release complex fertilizer when the vegetative restart takes place. .
Juniper is a plant that needs irrigation especially during the summer season and in the first 2-3 years of growth, while after the roots they prove to be excellently developed and, for this reason, they can boast excellent resistance to drought. .
Moreover, since it can vegetate very well even on all those acidic, poor and stony soils.
The twigs that can boast the presence of juniper berries are harvested during the autumn season, especially in the period between September and October and must be dried in rooms sheltered from light, dry and with excellent air circulation. .
The juniper has the particular characteristic of multiplying by seed or by vegetative way, according to the techniques of cutting and offshoot: these are practices that are carried out at the end of the summer season and also at the beginning of autumn.
The plants that are obtained from the seed can boast a high heterogeneity, always knowing that the seeds take a long time for germination and that the sex of the plant is not known.
The cuttings are taken during the summer season from the new vegetation and, subsequently, are rooted inside a substrate of sand mixed with peat, and then placed individually in pots, keeping them in a cold greenhouse at least for the first time. winter season.
Juniper: Diseases and pests
Juniper is a rustic plant and, for this reason, it is little subject to the dangers represented by parasites, while among the various insects, the most dangerous is certainly the cochineal, while among the fungi the root rot are dangerous only in the case in which the 'tree is grown in clayey and too compact soils.