Gold Coast® JuniperJuniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Aurea Improved’
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Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Aurea Improved’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Gold Coast® Juniper is a spreading evergreen that grows 2 or 3 feet tall, spreading 5 or 6 feet wide within 10 years. It will grow larger in time, but never become a huge spreading plant like many junipers do. It has beautiful golden yellow foliage that turns to darker gold through summer, lasts all winter, and never turns green at all. It soon develops an attractive mounding form with weeping tips and lacy foliage. It is perfect as a groundcover for the foreground of garden beds, along driveways, on banks and slopes, and in rocky areas.
A place in full sun is perfect for the Gold Coast® Juniper, which thrives in hot and dry locations. It is very cold-hardy as well. It grows in any well-drained soil, including shallow, rocky soils, and heavy clay on sloping ground. It is normally free of pests or diseases, ignored by deer and rabbits, and it doesn’t need trimming to stay compact and attractive.
Low-growing evergreens are perfect ways to fill in the foreground of your beds, or to cover slopes and banks. These durable and trouble-free plants fill spaces with interest and color, and they really add to the beauty of your garden, while needing almost no work. The problem with many of them is their vigor and tendency to spread too much and be hard to trim. That’s why we love the Gold Coast® Juniper, which stays compact and bushy, without growing too tall or too wide. It forms a dense, weed-smothering mass of beauty, and it combines a soft, lacy look with brilliant gold foliage that doesn’t turn green, but stays gold all year, and even darkens and becomes richer during the winter months.
The Gold Coast Juniper is a spreading evergreen conifer that grows 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide within a few years. It continues to fill in and become denser, reaching perhaps 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide after 10 years. Like all conifers it will continue to grow while it lives, adding a few inches a year, but not becoming huge, as many other spreading junipers will do. The young foliage is usually fluffy, with short triangular leaves coming from the stems at a sharp angle. Older branches, and most older plants, have smooth stems, covered in flat, scale-like leaves, giving a lacy, elegant look to this plant. It forms an attractive mound, and the branch tips are slightly weeping. The new growth in spring is a bright, brilliant yellow, and it holds that color all year, darkening to a rich gold over summer and through winter, but never turning green. If untrimmed older plants may begin to reveal their larger branches, which are attractively covered in gray-brown bark that peels in strips, giving a rugged, mature look to older plants.
The Gold Coast Juniper is perfect for covering the ground anywhere in your garden. This tough plant thrives in hot sun and drier places, so use it on sunny banks and slopes, where it forms a beautiful layered covering. Plant it among rocks, or plant it in the foreground of your shrub beds. Grow it beside manholes and drain grids, where it will cover them very effectively within a short time. It is perfect for large rock gardens, and everywhere you need to cover the ground with beauty. For mass planting, space plants 3 or 4 feet apart to develop a continuous groundcover within a few years.
This very tough plant is happy growing in zone 3 with its snow and icy temperatures, and just as happy growing in zone 9, basking in the hot sun. It tolerates cold, heat, humidity and dryness.
To keep the growth compact and richly colored, plant the Gold Coast Juniper in full sun. Shady locations will turn it greener and make the growth thin and open. It will however tolerate an hour or two of shade each day without problems. This plant thrives in any well-drained soil, but it doesn’t like ‘wet feet’. It grows in ordinary garden conditions, as well as in shallow, rocky and sandy soils. It tolerates urban soils and air pollution too. In heavy clay it is best planted on slopes and higher ground, not in low-lying spots that stay wet.
Not only is the Gold Coast Juniper beautiful, it needs almost no care. Once it has become established it is very drought tolerant, and rarely, if ever, needs watering. It is normally free of pests and diseases, deer leave it alone, and so do rabbits. With its relatively compact growth it rarely if ever needs pruning but if you do need to control its spread a little, cut back stems with pruners just in front of an upward-growing stem, which hides the cut and keeps the growth looking natural and attractive. Never cut back to a bare branch, because if there are no leaves the stem can never re-sprout – it will remain bare and die. Shearing and trimming will destroy the elegant, lacy, mounding form of this plant, and it isn’t necessary or advised.
The Gold Coast Juniper is a selected form of the Pfitzer juniper, Juniperus x pfitzeriana. This plant is a natural hybrid between two other junipers, the savin juniper, Juniperus sabina, and the Chinese juniper, Juniperus chinensis. It was found growing wild in Inner Mongolia in 1866 by the French missionary and botanist Armand David. Later, in the 1890s, it was identified as a hybrid at the Späth Arboretum, in Berlin. For many years the Pfitzer juniper and its forms were placed under Juniperus x media, and that name is still sometimes seen.
All junipers can produce individual branches that look different from the main plant, and the first form with golden leaves was found in 1923, growing on a branch of a Pfitzer juniper at the D. Hill Nursery in Dundee, Illinois. It was named ‘Pfitzeriana Aurea’. In 1964 Frank Sakiyama was working in his nursery in San Gabriel, California. Among some plants of ‘Pfitzeriana Aurea’ he noticed one that was different. He grew it separately and confirmed its more compact form and attractive lacy growth. He patented it in 1965 (PP# 2,491) without a name. That patent expired in 1985. The name ‘Aurea Improved’ was given to Sakiyama’s plant by Monrovia Nurseries, California, and in 1982 they registered the trademark name Gold Coast® for it, which is the name it is usually known by today.
Many junipers become large and sprawling – a problem in smaller gardens and where space is limited. Not the Gold Coast Juniper, which stays compact and low, without needing trimming. This variety is highly recommended by experts, and it always sells well. Order what you need now, or they will all be gone.