Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' / Skyrocket juniper

Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' is a narrowly conical selection of Rocky Mountain juniper 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. '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?

David Olszyk

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

David Olszyk

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.