Hi there, I’m thinking about planting a Pencil Point Juniper at the edge of our front yard as it would fit size-wise (about 8-10 ft tall, 3 ft wide) and has a much desired conical shape. The front yard faces south and receives full sun; however, in the warmer months our neighbour’s honey locust tree provides shade. My understanding is that this juniper likes full sun but I wonder if the shade cast by the tree will make it unhappy particularly during the summer and fall months. What do you think?
I would only plant a Pencil Point Juniper (Juniperus communis ‘Compressa’) in a full sun location, that is a spot that provides 6 hours of direct sun a day, particularly given the prime front yard position planned for this shrub. Juniperus communis has both prostrate and upright forms. While some will do well in part shade, it is the ground cover-type junipers that are the most shade tolerant. The taller junipers may survive if other conditions are met but the low light may affect the shape and the colour of the shrub.
I wonder if there is some confusion around the name of the shrub you are considering. Pencil Point Juniper doesn’t typically have the dimensions or the form that you describe. Common names such as Pencil Point are used for a variety of shrubs. Pencil Point Juniper typically has a columnar shape with a mature height of 6-8 feet and a width of 1 foot. There are other taller and wider columnar varieties but none with a conical shape.
I’m sure you can find a tree or shrub that will thrive in the conditions in your yard as there are many that do well in part shade. If you are keen to have an evergreen, the yews (Taxus spp.) and hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) will tolerate the dappled shade of a honey-locust. Taxus cuspidata ‘Capitata’, for example, has the conical form that you mention. If you’re willing to consider some deciduous varieties, I’m including a link to our earlier response to a question on selecting a small specimen tree.
Enjoy selecting a shrub for your yard.
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