The Complete Guide for Grey Owl Juniper (Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’) Care

The Grey Owl Juniper, otherwise known as the Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ or Eastern Red Cedar ‘Grey Owl’, Juniper ‘Grey Owl’, Juniperus ‘Grey Owl’, Juniperus chinensis ‘Grey Owl’, is a rather well-known shrub plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Juniperus virginiana Grey Owl plants

Best known for its low maintenance and moderate growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its gray-green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

This is why all the topics you need to know in order to achieve this will be covered in this Grey Owl Juniper Care Guide. Ready? Let’s go!

The basic care guidelines you need to remember for your Grey Owl Juniper are the following:

  • Water: The Grey Owl Juniper grows best in soil that is always moist.
  • Light: Keep your Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Grey Owl Juniper in soil with well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

That’s it – sunlight, water and soil! The basic 3 fundamentals for all plant care, and with the Grey Owl Juniper this is no exception. With these three elements, your leafy friend will live healthy and happy.

Description and Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Grey Owl Juniper belongs to the Cupressaceae family, the genus Juniperus and the species Virginiana, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ (ju-NIP-er-us vir-jin-ee-AH-na).

The Cupressaceae family also includes other plants like Chaenomeles X Superba ‘Jet Trail’, Moor-Dense® Juniper, Syringa Vulgaris ‘President Grévy’, Savin Juniper, or Decumbent Juniper ‘Nana’, Northern White Cedar ‘Danica’, Cupressus Sempervirens, Juniperus Chinensis ‘Hetzii Glauca’, Blue Chip Juniper, Creeping Juniper ‘Blue Rug’, Japanese Cypress ‘Golden Mop’, Blue Star Juniper, Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’, Danica Arborvitae, Japanese Cypress ‘Filifera Aurea’ and Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’.

As with other Juniperus’s, the Grey Owl Juniper is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

NameJuniper (Juniperus Virginiana)
WateringEvery 2 – 4 weeks
LightFull to partial sun
SoilGood drainage properties
PruningOnce or twice per year
USDA hardiness zone3 to 9

Growing Region

You might be wondering why your Grey Owl Juniper’s native region is important. Well, if you know where your plant originally came from, you’ll know which environmental conditions it prefers, and with it, knowledge on how to replicate it at home.

With this in mind, the Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ will be most used to the heat zones in the 1 – 9 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a and the ideal climate zone is between 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A3.

Growth and Size

In terms of size and growth, the Grey Owl Juniper is a relatively moderate grower, which makes things somewhat easy for any plant enthusiast.

But what exactly does this mean for your Grey Owl Juniper? How large a pot should you consider, how tall, how wide can it get? Let’s jump in…

How big does a Grey Owl Juniper get?

The Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ can grow up to 2 ft – 4 ft (60 cm – 120 cm) tall and 4 ft – 6 ft (120 cm – 182 cm) wide. These dimensions make the Grey Owl Juniper a relatively large shrub compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 4 ft – 6 ft (150cm – 180cm) free so the Grey Owl Juniper can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Grey Owl Juniper is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ grows best in soil that is always moist. Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively low to average needs in terms of water. 

Juniperus virginiana Grey Owl up close


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Grey Owl Juniper in soil with well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

However, in our experience, the best solution to knowing the right amount of water for your Grey Owl Juniper is with the ‘thumb’ technique. Basically, you insert your finger into the soil, and based if you feel the soil moist or dry, you determine if it needs any water, which is the most appropriate way to go about watering your leafy friend.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Grey Owl Juniper prefers to have soil with good drainage properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Grey Owl Juniper requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ in full and direct sun (more than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


You should prune your Grey Owl Juniper once or twice a year. Pruning will help keep the plant tidy and will also help stimulate new growth. Make sure to prune just after new growth has appeared so that the juniper can recover from the pruning stress.


Being an evergreen plant, the Grey Owl Juniper will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


The leaves from the Grey Owl Juniper have a beautiful gray-green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a needle arrangement in their leaves.

Juniperus virginiana Grey Owl plant with flower

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Grey Owl Juniper is well known for its tolerance to rocky soil, dry soil, drought and animals like deer, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ will be fine.


Now, let’s talk garden and how your Grey Owl Juniper will look best in it.

Most Juniperus Virginiana ‘Grey Owl’ owners agree that this shrub will look great in most contemporary, asian/zen and rustic gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of informal and cottage, city and courtyard, and in traditional garden styles. 

In particular, the Grey Owl Juniper’s best use for landscaping within your garden is as mass planting, hedge, coastal exposure, border, erosion control, ground cover, or a wildlife garden.

Companion Plants

Grey Owl Juniper’s do well with some other plants besides it. One good companion plant is the Berberis, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Rosa will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


So that’s it! These are the main plant care requirements that you need to keep in mind in order to have a healthy Grey Owl Juniper in your garden or home.

Related Questions

Does Grey Owl Juniper have berries?

Yes, the Grey Owl Juniper has berries. They are a dark purple-blue color and birds love to feast on them. The berries are an important food source for many insectivorous birds, particularly during the breeding season when other food sources are scarce.

Can you eat Grey Owl Juniper berries?

Yes, you can eat Grey Owl Juniper berries. They are actually quite delicious and have a unique flavor. Additionally, these berries are often used to make martinis and other cocktails. So if you want to add an exciting twist to your next cocktail party, reach for some Grey Owl Juniper berries!

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

Recent Posts