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.
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 feet high and 25 feet wide; the strongest yellow color is mainly at the end of foliage sprays.
- Gracilis, slender hinoki cypress, is an upright tree to 20 feet with nodding branch tips.
- Nana Gracilis is a miniature of the former, reaching just 4 feet tall.
- Bright yellow-foliaged 'Nana Lutea', ideal plant for bonsai, reaches just 1 feet high and 10 inches wide; it needs protection from full sun.
sawara false cypress
- Japanese native to 2030 feet., rarely seen except in its garden forms.
- Selections include 'Cyano-Viridis' ('Boulevard'), a slow-growing, dense bush to 68 feet high and wide, with silvery blue-green foliage; 'Filifera', to 8 feet., with drooping, threadlike branchlets; and 'Filifera Aurea', with similar branchlets in yellow.
- Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
- Eastern U.S. timber tree to 75 feet tall; columnar form.
- Found in wet sites in the wild.
- Garden forms include 'Andelyensis', dense, columnar gray-green shrub to 10 feet., turning bronze in cold weather; and 'Heather Bun', broader than 'Andelyensis', turning intense plum-purple in winter.