Kids and pups go together like peanut butter and jelly. Both like to play outdoors, so it's important that your children and their best friend have a safe place to frolic. If you have Japanese junipers (Juniperus procumbens) in your landscape, never fear: Although they are classified as mildly toxic, Japanese junipers are not dangerous to humans or pets.
Junipers are listed as being either mildly toxic or easily confused with a toxic plant on the Morris Veterinary Center's website, depending on the species. They are not listed as being toxic to dogs on the ASPCA website. In addition, according to North Dakota State University Extension Service, juniper berries are not known to be toxic, but may cause a dog to vomit if ingested in large amounts. This is not usually a concern when it comes to the Japanese juniper, as most cultivated plants do not have berries.
The University of California Davis lists junipers as having minor toxicity to humans. The publication does not include information for pets. Children who ingest part of a juniper bush may experience vomiting or diarrhea. If this happens, call your doctor or a poison-control center. Although not life-threatening, it still might be uncomfortable for your child.
It is unlikely that children or dogs will even try to sample part of a Japanese juniper. In most junipers, the berries are the most tempting, but Japanese junipers rarely produce them, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden's website. These low-growing, prickly plants are primarily used as ground cover and are not soft to the touch. If your child or dog does touch the plant, it will not give them a rash. Japanese junipers grow to maximum heights of about 1.5 feet, and maximum widths of about 15 feet.
Japanese junipers are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. They thrive in full sun and average, well-drained soils. Often used for erosion control, they are deer-resistant and extremely hardy. In fact, they adapt easily to polluted, salty and dry soils and will tolerate periods of drought. The only thing Japanese junipers will not tolerate is overly wet soil.
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