Distinctive qualities of thuja and juniper
Both thuja and juniper are often used by gardeners for landscaping, although at the same time it cannot be said that plants are interchangeable and absolutely identical. Both cultures have their own characteristics that can distinguish them from other similar varieties. What exactly should you pay attention to when choosing a thuja or juniper, and what is the difference between them exist - more on that later.
Botanical description of childbirth
Thuja is a representative of the Cypress family and has a predominantly shrubby form. Tree-like varieties of culture are rare, and some of them grow up to 20 m in height and can boast a crown up to 6 m in diameter. At a young age, the leaf plates of plants are relatively soft, with small needles on the surface, but the older the thuja becomes, the larger the scales appears on them.
Culture belongs to monoecious plants, with oblong or more oval cones, supplemented by two or six pairs of scales (the uppermost ones are always sterile). In central specimens, 3 flat ovules are hidden, 1-2 or less often, supplemented by narrow wing-like growths (there are only two cotyledons). Seed ripening is observed in the fall, already in the first year of cultivation and this is considered one of the advantages of thuja.
Did you know? The word "thuja" (or rather "thuja") has an ancient Greek origin and means "sacrifice" or "incense". The reason for this name was that in ancient times priests burned the branches of a plant, glorifying their gods.
The evergreen juniper (also known as “heather”) is also related to the Cypress family and can have both bushy and woody forms, but differs from thuja in several basic characteristics. The buds of the plant are always bare, not scaly, sometimes framed by shortened and pressed leaves to them (for example, in common juniper).
Saturated green leaf plates are placed in three pieces each at the whorls, and can have both a needle-shaped and a scaly surface. Usually they are linear-lanceolate, with a downward base and stomatal strip in the upper part. In the middle of the leaf there is often a longitudinal median vein, but in general, the leaf plates of young plants are usually coniferous and only become smaller with age and become scaly, tightly pressed to the shoots. In the axils of the leaves or last year's branches, single or paired spikelets of a male type are hidden.
Video: Types and varieties of junipers
Women's ones are placed on axillary, more shortened shoots and may have the following features:
- formed by one whorl of scaly-shaped carpels and three straight ovules alternating with them (in some cases, carpels are opposite);
- have a spikelet with 1-3 pairs of whorls of carpels, each of which includes one or two ovules;
- contain one final ovule surrounded by barren scaly-shaped stratum.
The cone (the so-called berry-shaped cone) in the juniper does not open, with fleshy scales firmly pressed to the base. It can have both spherical and somewhat elongated shape with 1-10 seeds inside. Cones ripening occurs only in the second year of cultivation.
The main differences between thuja and juniper
The described plants have many similar appearance features, which is not surprising, given their belonging to the same family. With proper care, they can grow in one place for centuries, decorating the garden for a long time. However, do not forget about the differences between these plants. So, juniper is usually much lower than thuja and does not exceed three meters in height (occasionally there are five-meter specimens or very undersized shrubs that practically cover the surface of the earth).
Important! Among the differences of the described plants, it is worth recalling the optimal conditions for their growth and development. So, if the thuja quietly grows in a smoky and polluted environment, while juniper can kill such conditions, almost immediately disrupting its development.
Besides, cones of cultures also have their differences: in thuja, they are oval or slightly oblong, with two or three pairs of scales, but in juniper such fruits are called cone berries and are characterized by an oval shape (inside, depending on the species, one to ten seeds are hidden). As for juniper and thuja needles, in the latter case it becomes scaly over the years, while many juniper varieties always remain needle-shaped. For some gardeners, this particular feature helps to distinguish one plant from another.
What is better to plant
Both thuja and juniper can be a great addition to any summer cottage or city park, therefore choosing what to plant on the territory, it is worth considering not only the appearance of the plants, but also take into account their other characteristics.
For example, it’s no secret that arborvitae grow rapidly and live for about 100 years, while junipers grow much more slowly, but this does not prevent them from surviving to 500 years. Simply put, if there is a chance that you will be bored with the existing landscape design, and the territory is small, then you should give preference to juniper (taking into account the average size of an adult plant).
Video: Which is better: juniper or thuja
If, when planting, you are interested in the edible healing fruits of a particular plant, then it’s also worth stopping your choice on juniper, which is considered a good fruiting. At the same time, from an economic point of view, a thuja, whose seedlings are cheaper than juniper, which is beneficial when using the plant only as a hedge, will be a more profitable solution. In a word, choosing what it is better to land on your site, should be based on the specific goals of the planting, be sure to consider all the pros and cons of each described plant.
Advantages and disadvantages of thuja
- The main advantages of thuja, which usually become the reasons for choosing this particular shrub, are the following characteristics of the plant:
- unpretentiousness to leaving and a high level of frost resistance;
- universality of application (suitable for landing in any open areas, regardless of air pollution at the landing site);
- low susceptibility to diseases and pests;
- high resistance to sudden weather changes;
- the availability of seedlings (are relatively inexpensive).
Of the shortcomings of the plant, the most noticeable will be increased demands on soil moisture at the place of growth and the need for sunlight (in the shadow of the needles of thuja loses its decorativeness).
Every year, the popularity of this plant in landscape design only increases, because it goes well with other decorative cultures and with each otherIt cleans the air well and is available to a wide range of citizens. If desired, you can also propagate plants at home.
Did you know? In Canada, fresh thuja branches serve housewives as brooms for the home, leaving a pleasant aroma in the rooms after cleaning.
Advantages and disadvantages of juniper
- Juniper is found in private areas not much less than thuja, due to its following strengths:
- good endurance and the ability to land even in the northern regions without the construction of a shelter for the winter period;
- immunity to pruning, which allows you to create the most unusual figures (sometimes even spherical sculptures) from the crown of the plant without harming the culture;
- resistance of adult plants to adverse external factors, due to which increased attention is required only in the first year of its cultivation;
- shade tolerance (unlike thuja, continuous cultivation in shady areas will not lead to a loss of decorative shrub);
- longevity (providing the plant with suitable conditions for growing, you can enjoy its attractive appearance all your life, without worrying about transplants).
As for the shortcomings of growing such an conifer, they include slow growth of culture and toxic substances in some varieties of plants, because of what they are dangerous for many people (especially allergy sufferers).
Important! Due to the causticity of the oil secreted by the branches and needles of juniper, it is worth protecting your hands with gloves when pruning or other care.
Whatever plant you choose for growing on your site, you can achieve high decorativeness of thuja or juniper only by observing all the requirements for their planting and further care, therefore, having decided on a specific variety of coniferous tree, do not forget to pay attention to this issue as well.