How To Gardening Plant Portraits Eastern red cedar

Eastern red cedar

By Nancy Norris | March 24, 2024

| Last updated on March 29, 2024

This tree is an evergreen with an upright habit and tight growth

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Common name: Eastern red cedar, Virginian juniper, eastern juniper, red juniper, pencil cedar, or aromatic cedar
Latin name: Juniperus virginiana
Plant type: Shrubs and small trees
USDA Hardiness Zones: 2-9
Cultural needs: Moist, well drained, neutral, or slightly acidic soil; full sun
Plant size: 40′ unpruned but easily kept under 2′, with a width half its height

Eastern red cedar
Nancy Norris photo

Eastern red cedar is an evergreen tree with an upright habit and tight growth that makes it especially well adapted for garden railways. Yes, it does need regular pruning but it costs nothing if you gather the seedlings from your local weed patch. Called a cedar, it’s actually a juniper with fragrant cedar-chest-like aroma, and the juniper berries smell like the gin it was once used to flavor.

Here it’s pictured growing in Doug Brainard’s Centralia Garden Railway in Central Florida, but many other railroad gardeners in eastern and central-plains states value this seedling tree for their miniature gardens. In addition to the cone-shaped bonsai pruning seen here, it will accept topiary-style pruning as well. Just about any well-draining soil will do as long as the tree is grown in full sun. Tolerant of salt, drought, and occasional flooding, it’s hard to ask for a more adaptive little tree with the right price tag.

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