Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' / Skyrocket juniper

Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' is a narrowly conical, female selection of Rocky Mountain or western juniper. In the east it often (inappropriately) called the red cedar. Its branching is mostly fastigiate and foliage is silvery blue in color. It also creates crops of blue berries that are popular as winter forage for birds. 'Skyrocket' is a very popular landscape tree for suburban landscapes.

Once established, 'Skyrocket' is drought tolerant and is often used as a screen or windbreak for full sun, in place of the more common Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), especially beyond the cypress' USDA Zone 7 limits. Because of this, it has become the most popular upright juniper growing 15 feet (3 m) tall and 2 feet (60 cm) wide after 10 years, making it, some claim, the narrowest juniper one can find. Although it seldom needs pruning, with age (and conditions) 'Skyrocket' can get leggy and wider than its advertised 2 to 3 foot (60 - 90 cm) spread.

This cultivar originated in the wild. It was "found" and named in 1949 by Schuel Nursery, South Bend, Indiana, USA.

Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' photographed in Brunswick, ME, 2013
Photo by Sean Callahan
Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' foliage. It's needles are scale-like, closely pressed to the stem and smooth — not prickly — like some junipers.
Photo by Sean Callahan



I am waiting to receive 5 of these and want to plant them in a dry, sunny border area along a neighbors fence line. You say they get "leggy" but I hope not to prune them, especially at the top. I live in Central NY with cold winters. Looks like the photo here has just as cold weather in Maine. Any tips?


the tree in your picture seems to wider than 60cm or two feet. is that real the width limit?

Maxwell Cohn

hello Andreas ... since trees never actually stop growing, there is never a maximum limit to height and width.

Up above it says, "Although it seldom needs pruning, with age (and conditions) 'Skyrocket' can get leggy and wider than its advertised 2 to 3 foot (60 - 90 cm) spread." The particular plant in the picture is in Maine, it has probably seen its share of snow and ice that has splayed the branching.

David Lucia

Hi, will the Skyrocket Juniper grow in partial (not full) sun? This is the height / width we are interested in for privacy with a neighbor. If not the Skyrocket Juniper do you have another recommendation? Thank you in advance for your assistance. David

Maxwell Cohn

Hi David ... It'll grow (sort of), but probably not thrive. In shade, the growth will be much sparser, loose and week. Yews (Taxus spp) and plum-yews (Cephalotaxus spp) are much better suited for the shadows.

Also be aware that all size dimensions on this site are 10-year estimates. Individual results will vary and everything will continue growing at a similar rate for decades, if not centuries.

Jenn H

How much spacing do these junipers need? How big does the root ball get? I'm looking to purchase some 3-4 foot tall ones and space them so they can be for privacy screening. I have some existing Italian Cypress trees that aren't filling in or growing very fast so I want to put these junipers in between them. I live in Zone 9 and they would be on my north fence line with full southern sunlight exposure most of the day.
Thanks in advance!

Maxwell Cohn

Hi Jenn H ... if you space them 2 to 3 feet apart on center, you'll have a solid hedgerow within 10 years.

Rootball generally grows to the limits of the drip like and a couple of feet deep over time.


Hello, is the skyrocket juniper toxic to dogs?

Maxwell Cohn

our friends at Google say no.

Carol Cioppa

Do deer like these Junipers?

Maxwell Cohn

deer are extremely local problems. If they're starving in your neighborhood, any non-toxic plant is fair game. Junipers are non-toxic.


Does Skyrocket juniper do well in containers? What's the minimize size container needed for growing one 5-8 feet tall?

Maxwell Cohn

you'll need a container that's at least 4 feet wide and deep. You'll also need to make sure it has impeccable drainage, that it's sited in all day full sun, and that you use a potting medium that is appropriate for woody plants.

Elizabeth Jones

Do I need a male to produce berries on the skyrocket?

Maxwell Cohn

If you want the berries to be fertile, you'll get a higher quality yield if there are multiple specimens (different cultivars) around.


Can I plant these under a butternut tree? I am aware nut trees release toxins which are harmful to certain plants/trees…hence my question. Thank you

Dylan Tepe

Literature on this doesn't seem common, but /Juniperus virginiana/, a close relative to Rocky Mountain juniper, has good juglone tolerance, so I would say that Rocky Mountain juniper may be tolerant as well. That said, I would avoid planting any juniper too near a large tree purely to for the sake of making sure it has as much sun as possible.


Do Skyrocket Junipers have berries that are poisonous to dogs? Are the needles toxic? Is there a different evergreen that would be better for a backyard with dogs?