Yearning for Tuscany? Try Woodward columnar juniper

Juniperus scopulorum 'Woodward', Woodward columnar juniperWoodward columnar juniper is one of the most exciting new woody trees to come out of our program, maybe the most exciting ever!  This beautiful upright columnar evergreen tree was found near Guernsey, Wyoming. In its early days, it was found to be difficult to propagate and so it never gained very much traction. We found it growing at the old Cheyenne Horticultural Field Station in Cheyenne, Wyoming 25 years ago and tinkered around with trying to unlock its rooting secrets. We finally cracked the code and it can now be rooted in sufficient numbers so gardeners everywhere can enjoy its attributes.

Woodward columnar juniper is a selection of our native Rocky Mountain juniper.  It can grow to be 20 feet tall but is very narrow, only 2 to 4 feet wide. It bears a great resemblance to the columnar Italian Cypress which never fails to make a lasting impression on those who visit the Tuscan countryside in Italy. Woodward columnar juniper has attractive bluish needles year around, and once established it is a very xeric tree.  It is a top choice as a tall evergreen screen where space is an issue and a narrow form is required. It has stood the test of time here in our climate and has proven to be remarkably free from limb damage after our frequent heavy snow loads. This distinctive tree is sure to be popular throughout most of the temperate parts of our country. The look of the Tuscan countryside could be yours.

View the plant profile here.

Woodward columnar juniper
Juniperus scopulorum ‘Woodward’
Size: 20’ tall x 2-4’ wide
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Moderate to xeric
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3-9
Culture: Thrives in most kinds of soil

Deer Resistant

Pairs well with:
Redleaf rose
CHEYENNE® mock orange
Giant sacaton grass

Thanks to Scott Skogerboe, Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery for this piece

49 responses to “Yearning for Tuscany? Try Woodward columnar juniper”

  1. Shane says:

    Gene Howard (the last Director of the High Plains Horticultural Research Station) told me that the Woodward was originally found up near Gurensey WY.
    Also the name “Central Great Plains USDA Horticulture Station” incorrect. It was actually called the Cheyenne Horticultural Field Station. Please correct this in your documents.

  2. Pat Hayward says:

    Got it changed – thanks, Shane! I’ll check the manuscript for the book, too. Did Gene find it, or did someone else?

  3. Neisha says:

    Any chance you have a list of nurseries with this available? No luck at my favorites so far.

    • Pat Hayward says:

      The wholesalers sold out early this year, so not sure what garden centers might have gotten them. It was definitely a plant in high demand and short supply before the season even started! Try Fort Collins Nursery.

      • Boulder Gal says:

        Fort Collins Nursery told me today they sold out their entire stock of 100 Woodwards in early March. Fingers crossed for Fall availability. If you want some, get on the wait list.

  4. Neisha says:

    Just had a call from my local nursery and they just got 15 in for me. I have 5 acres so that not really a lot.

    • Pat Hayward says:

      Well, it’s a start. You can always substitute some of the other upright Juniperus scopulorum selections, they just won’t be as narrow. Glad you were able to get some, at least!

  5. Shelagh Reever says:

    I asked how quickly the Woodward juniper grows, your comments on the virtue o fthe tree did not tell me what I asked,

    • Josh says:

      I planted 15 Woodwards in the Spring of 2021. They were about 6 ft tall when planted and have grown 2.5ft – 3ft as of nov 2021.
      They are south facing and get full sun all day, I also was vary attentive with them and made sure they got enough water.

  6. Ross Shrigley says:

    I’ve seen the Woodward start off slowly for the first couple years after it’s been planted- 8-12 inches. As it approaches 4 foot tall and can start to grow quicker, closer to 18-24 inches per year. Lots of that depends on watering and sun exposure.

  7. R. Chin says:

    How can I catch the Woodward juniper in terms of planting it? Do I just break a piece of it and plant it or do I have to get seeds or suckers?

  8. Ross Shrigley says:

    Junipers can be very difficult to propagate and Woodward Juniper is one of those. They are propagated by cuttings rooted into small containers then up shifted into larger containers. Even in the best conditions, several won’t root out. If you collect seed and get it to germinate, there is no guarantee that it will be a nice ,narrow, beautiful Woodward looking plant. Honestly, it’s much easier and quicker to enjoy these junipers by just purchasing one from a garden center.

  9. Barbara says:

    I am interested in a narrow upright juniper for my small backyard. I haven’t seen any posts on how it holds up in a heavy snow.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Locate any tall/older Woodward juniper and look for damage. Woodward juniper growth habit is such that the branches don’t catch snow. You will be hard-pressed to find any damage on the lateral branches on any in the landscape and none of them will show damage on the leader at the top. Denver Botanic Gardens has several large ones where one can compare body shape and they all experienced the same weather events.

  10. Bridget Engel says:

    I have a crabapple in my yard and other apple/ornamentals nearby at the neighbors. Should I avoid this kind of juniper because of rust?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      It’s more susceptible to getting rust with hawthorns around. I’ve only seen apple cedar rust on Woodwards once in CO. If you have other junipers in the neighborhood, check them for rust and you’ll have a better idea if it is going to be any sort of problem

  11. Linda Neel says:

    Will this tree grow well in the Charlotte area of NC, zone 7B?

  12. Geoffrey says:

    Where to find??
    For planting on sand dunes northern indiana.

  13. Amelia Orton-Palmer says:

    I had originally set my mind on a few Juniperus virginiana ‘Taylor’ to create a privacy screen and dark backdrop to show off a shapely tree form of Foresteria neomexicana I’m planning for part of our water-wise landscape design in our central Colorado mountain town at 7000′, However, I just read that ‘Taylor’ may be a male cultivar. That means no berries, right? If junipers are to be in our yard, they must have berries — for the birds and for the beauty of them! Does ‘Woodward’ produce berries?

  14. Marianne Alden says:

    I am interested in this Juniper “Woodward” to use in a container. Several in a row along a fence raised above ground level. I have plenty of room to build large containers for this plant.

    Northeastern Ohio zone 5.

    Can this stay out side throughout the winter or will it need to be stored indoors, which might be difficult? Thank you.

    Full sun exposure all day long. Also, would it be good nesting for birds?

    Thank you.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      If the containers are large and sitting on the ground, yes these should survive through the winters. They are a zone 3 plant. Full sun is perfect and a good habitat for small birds. Enjoy!

  15. Jennifer says:

    How closely can I plant these together? I’d like a flush wall of them to line my backyard.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Plant them 3′ apart and you’ll achieve a nice hedge. Do not shear tops until they are beyond the desired height of the wall. These are a perfect plant for this application.

  16. Joanne says:

    I have several Woodwards in my landscape and love them. The leader on the newest (youngest) one has a bit of a curve to it, unlike my others. Should I stake the leader on this one new plant, and if so, for about how long? (I have staked the entire plant to stabilize the root ball, but am wondering about staking the leader as well.) Thank you.

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      The tops of Woodwards are a little floppy looking but they always grow straight up. This loose top may be the reason that the tops do not break off in heavy snow. There is no need to stake the top. Enjoy!

  17. Heidi says:

    I planted some ‘Woodward’ with a spacing of 2’ apart for a privacy screen. They were planted a few months ago. Is this too close for them to be planted together? Would you recommend replanting them further apart?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      Two feet apart is very close. Four feet is fine, but if it is too much work to move them, they will still create a good-looking hedge for many years to come. Keep the plants narrow by not watering them after they are estabished.

  18. Bridget says:

    Once the woodwards have reached the height I need them to be, how to I trim them or keep them manageable? And what time of year do you trim these?

    • Ross Shrigley says:

      As they approach the desired height start to shear them lightly. Shear them in the spring after they have received lots of natural precipitation. Remember that their size can me managed a little by never providing them with supplemental irrigation.

  19. Ryan says:

    I have 3 of these Woodwards and 3 Taylors. One of my Woodwards is losing it’s color. It was planted in July and looked great until about ~3 weeks ago. It has been turning a very pale greenish/grey color. The other 2 woodwards are not doing this. Also out of the other two that aren’t doing it, one gets more sunlight and the other gets less sunlight. So the one turning colors is more in the middle of the sunlight spectrum in my yard. Is this normal? I am concerned it may not make it through winter and looking to see if I need to do anything proactively. All three are on the same amount of drippers so watering should be roughly the same.

  20. Alexa Maxey says:

    Does I stay green or turn a little grey? I am worried mine is not doing well. It’s December but it has been unusually warm.

  21. Ben Smith says:

    I’m interested in planting either a few Woodward Junipers or Taylor Eastern Red Cedars (same as Taylor Juniper?) in my front yard in Lakewood to screen a busy street. One complication is a plastic 1-2” diameter gas line buried 2-3 feet deep through the front lawn. It is roughly parallel to the sidewalk and offset from it by 2.5-3 feet.

    My questions are:
    1. Would this type of columnar Rocky Mountain Juniper have a root system at planting size that would be hard to fit between the gas line and sidewalk, and do the roots tend to cause problems with nearby concrete walks or driveways as they reach maturity?
    2. How close can I plan a Woodward or Taylor to my sidewalk and driveway to avoid having to prune it to keep it from encroaching over the concrete?

    Many thanks in advance! My yard is giving me lots of headaches due to the size constraints.

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      So Taylor vs Woodward. Really depends on where you are in the country. If you’re west of Omaha Nebraska you’ll want Woodward. Tougher for winters does not turn bronze like Taylor does. If you’re east you will want Taylor’s. They take humidity and wet better. Those are the biggest differences. Otherwise very similar. Taylor’s seem to get more berries and have a tighter leader at top. Woodwards do better in winter snows with looser tops. Great plants.

  22. […] upright conifers. For a tall and evergreen exclamation mark, consider using the skyrocket – columnar Juniperus scopulorum – which is an ultra thin […]

  23. Steph says:

    What spacing do you recommend between trees (from trunk to trunk) if planting a row of Woodward Junipers for a privacy screen that looks full without a lot of space between the trees?

  24. Suzanne says:

    I purchased 2 Woodward Junipers and plan to plant them on the North side of our home, which can get very windy. This area is also partially sunny (mostly afternoon sun). How well do the Woodwards hold up to wind (sometimes 60-80 mph gusts)? Should I expect to see slower growth given the lack of sunlight hours? Basically, are they okay to plant in this location? Thank you!

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      They should be fine in that location. As for wind, they are bulletproof! The ones in Cheyenne at LCCC have never gotten any water, are 20+ feet tall and straight as an arrow on the open plains. Enjoy!

  25. Bridget says:

    (June 2023) I have a long hedge of woodward junipers that are about 4 yrs old. Some of them are starting to get brittle yellow branches that are turning brown and falling off. Not all of of the trees though. No evidence of insects. I suspect they are getting way too much water with all the rain this spring (I have not watered since late fall). They were planted in well draining soil with pebbles and amendments by a professional tree company. Other than making sure the mulch is away from the base of the tree, what can I do about them getting water logged and potential root rot? The only other thing I can think of is fungus. Would fungus kill woodwards? I had cedar apple rust early this spring and I picked off a lot of galls before they got large. I also treated x1 with myclobutanil and 1x with copper treatment. Any ideas you can offer would be super helpful. I’m worried about them. -Bridget

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      The abundance of spring water is hard on Woodward junipers, and it also makes it easier for apple cedar rust to spread around. I have never seen apple cedar rust kill a juniper. Personally, I cut those branches out when I see galls or fruiting bodies and let the juniper re-sprout. Avoid watering these plants and they should perform just fine. I’m sure they will live another 20+ years.

  26. Steph says:

    What is the best watering schedule for newly planted 4 ft Woodwards in CO (drip — how many emitters to each/how often and how long each watering session)? When should I change that watering schedule to something different? Do they need supplemental water in the winter during their first year or two?

    The nursery I bought them from didn’t know what the best watering schedule would be for Woodwards since they were a new item for them. Thank you so much for the information!

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Emitters can deliver different volumes of water, so it’s hard to offer exact amounts. Water at least weekly for the next couple of years and then back off the watering. Here is link with more info about watering schedules. When using emitters, turn on the system for 15 minutes and catch all the water those emitters for 1 plant deliver. From there you can convert gallons to inches of water. I hope to do a video on this sometime soon. Great plant!

  27. Josh says:

    Here is what my 10-12 ft tall Woodwards look like this morning after 8 inches of heavy wet snow. I shook the snow off and the are all bent fairly bad, none are broken though which is surprising.
    I’m assuming they will recover this spring? Do I need to do anything to help them?

    • Ross Shrigley-Plant Select says:

      Give them some time to recover. See if the heat perks up the branches. If they don’t in late June prune out some of those branches. No need to prune all the way back to the trunk, but just inside the shrub will do. Photos don’t come through this communication channel so I can’t see how bad the damage is. They should perk up though. Enjoy!

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