Buffalo JuniperJuniperus sabina 'Buffalo'
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Juniperus sabina 'Buffalo'
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The Buffalo Juniper stands out among junipers for its rich green coloring, that never burns; it soft, feathery foliage; and its resistance to both extreme cold and drought. It is outstanding as a low ground cover for slopes and banks, to cascade over walls, or to soften the edges of hard landscaping. It stays less than 12 inches tall, but it spread to 8 feet wide, covering lots of ground from a single plant. It soon forms a weed-resistant mat that needs no maintenance, and it looks great all year round, with no effort from you at all.
The Buffalo Juniper should be planted in full sun, in any well-drained soil, including limestone, gravel, shallow soil and heavy clay. It is hardy even in zone 3, with no winter burning, and it is almost never bothered by pests or diseases. Deer and rabbits usually leave it alone, and it is resistant to salt spray too. For low-maintenance xeriscaping, this is the plant you need for all those exposed, dry areas.
Life is tough in colder zones, with long winters and subzero temperatures. It is tough on plants too, and if you garden in the very cold parts of the country, your choices are more limited. Combine deep winter cold with hot sun, drying winds, and shallow, sandy soil, and you really need plants that are tougher than tough. Time to turn to the Buffalo Juniper, a groundcover plant that is not only tough, but handsome as well.
The Buffalo Juniper is a reliable evergreen that stays low – no more than a foot tall – but spreads wide, up to 8 feet across. Its strong stems spread out in all directions, while sending up low shoots of soft green foliage that resist both dryness and cold. It soon becomes a solid sheet of dense green that looks great and works hard at keeping down weeds and preventing soil erosion. Unlike many low-growing junipers that have spiny needles, this one has softer, scale-like adult foliage, like that seen on many upright junipers. This makes it easier and more pleasant to work around, as well as giving it a unique feathery look you will love. As well, this is the one of the greenest of all the junipers, without the bluish or gray tones we usually see in these plants. It really does become a green carpet covering banks and slopes, cascading over walls, hiding unsightly manholes, or softening the hard edges of driveways or terraces.
As well as being among the softest and greenest of the junipers, surprisingly, this one is right at the top of the list for toughness. More tolerant of cold and more drought resistant than most, it is totally hardy even in zone 3, with lows of minus 40 degrees. The foliage stays green and doesn’t burn, even as the mercury plunges and the ground freezes deeply. Yet when summer comes, and hot dry winds arrive, it is resistant to all but the most severe extended drought – provided of course that it has had a season or two to become fully established. If you are in areas with watering restrictions in summer, or if you are committed to xeriscaping – gardening with very reduced water usage – then the Buffalo Juniper is perfect for you. If you have shallow soil over rock, where most plants soon perish, this is one that won’t, and you can watch that hard, rocky ground disappear beneath a soft carpet of green.
Many gardens are on sloping ground, or the creation of steps and terracing makes banks that need planting. The Buffalo Juniper is a perfect choice for slopes, because the low branches, dense foliage and tough root-system combine to prevent soil erosion even with sandy soil and during heavy downpours. If you are landscaping on new slopes, it is best to use landscape fabric or mulch over the soil while the Buffalo Juniper becomes established, but once it does you can rest assured that you have fully controlled potential soil erosion.
As well, the Buffalo Juniper is salt resistant, so it is a good choice for coastal areas. Wherever you have problem places to plant, the Buffalo Juniper is the solution you need. When planting allow 3 to 5 feet between each plant, spacing them out randomly rather than in strict rows. Choose the spacing that works for you – obviously a wider spacing takes a bit longer to fill in, but it does allow you to reduce the number of plants you need. The growth rate is between 6 and 12 inches a year, so it will soon spread wide. Some extra summer watering and fertilizer in the early years will give you maximum growth and quick fill.
Grow the Buffalo Juniper in full sun for the best color and densest growth. It will grow well in almost any soil, including limestone, sandy gravels, heavy clay, and shallow soil over rock. Whatever the soil, it should be well-drained, and this plant is not suitable for low-lying wet areas, or soil that is always moist – it loves dryness. It is normally untroubled by pests or diseases. Deer and rabbits almost always leave it alone, and it tolerates urban conditions too. It needs no trimming to stay under 12 inches tall, and when planting allow enough room for its to spread, as it looks best untrimmed at the edges. If you do need to trim, cut back the long stems to an upward-facing shoot, which will quickly hide the cut edge beneath new growth. Do not trim into bare wood, as this plant cannot re-sprout from bare branches.
The Buffalo Juniper is a selected form of the savin juniper, Juniperus sabina. This plant grows wild in mountainous regions of Europe and Central Asia, from Spain through Turkey and into Kazakhstan and Siberia. It is always found in high, rocky places, thriving on difficult soil. This natural toughness is why you can rely on it in your garden. Individual wild plants of this species vary a lot, from low ground huggers to semi-upright trees 15 feet or more in height. So seedlings are also very variable, and most of the different forms of this plant were selected from batches of seedlings. We don’t know the origin of the form called ‘Buffalo’, but it was probably also once a single seedling that was chosen for is looks and toughness. It has been grown and recommended for decades, so you can be sure it is reliable and as tough as we have described it. Our stock is limited, so order right away if you need to cover some dry and difficult parts of your garden with tough and reliable plants.