FALSE CYPRESS

FAMILY: Cupressaceae | GENUS: CHAMAECYPARIS

TYPE
  • Evergreen
  • Shrubs
  • Trees
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Regular Water
PLANTING ZONES
  • US (Upper South) / Zone 6
  • MS (Middle South) / Zone 7
  • LS (Lower South) / Zone 8

Plant Details

Intensive selection has brought these timber trees down in scale, so most new selections fit well into suburban gardens (some even work as container plants). Dense, richly textured foliage makes them easy to mistake for arborvitae (Thuja), but the leaves of false cypress have white lines on the undersides, while those of arborvitae are entirely green. Most false cypresses have twodistinct types of leaves: juvenile and mature. Juvenile leaves (short, needlelike, soft but often prickly) appear on young plants and some new growth of larger trees. Mature foliage consists of tiny, scalelike, overlapping leaves. Cones are small and round. All need good drainage and protection from wind.

C. obtusa. HINOKI FALSE CYPRESS. There are dozens of golden, dwarf, and fern-leafed forms of this Japanese native, but a few are the most important ones in landscaping. 'Crippsii' is a golden-leafed form to 50 ft. high and 25 ft. wide; the strongest yellow color is mainly at the end of foliage sprays. 'Gracilis', slender hinoki cypress, is an upright tree to 20 ft. with nodding branch tips. 'Nana Gracilis' is a miniature of the former, reaching just 4 ft. tall. Bright yellow-foliaged 'Nana Lutea', ideal plant for bonsai, reaches just 1 ft. high and 10 in. wide; it needs protection from full sun.

C. pisifera. SAWARA FALSE CYPRESS. Japanese native to 2030 ft., rarely seen except in its garden forms. Selections include 'Cyano-Viridis' ('Boulevard'), a slow-growing, dense bush to 68 ft. high and wide, with silvery blue-green foliage; 'Filifera', to 8 ft., with drooping, threadlike branchlets; and 'Filifera Aurea', with similar branchlets in yellow.

C. thyoides. WHITE CEDAR. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Eastern U.S. timber tree to 75 ft. tall; columnar form. Found in wet sites in the wild. Garden forms include 'Andelyensis', dense, columnar gray-green shrub to 10 ft., turning bronze in cold weather; and 'Heather Bun', broader than 'Andelyensis', turning intense plum-purple in winter.

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