Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’, Beautiful in a Japanese Garden
Beautiful in a Japanese garden, and just as stunning in your home landscape (any style). This dwarf evergreen is what I describe as a “polite” shrub, for the following reasons. Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’ grows slowly and never needs pruning, it always has a beautiful shape, and never crowds surrounding neighbors. Many of the false cypress evergreens are lovely, and I grow several, but this particular cultivar is especially artistic -and it has a sumptuous look.
Deep green fan-like growth that is free form without any sprawling, it’s a dwarf type of tree which will grow quite slowly and keep its place for a long while. This type of evergreen looks pleasing in mixed plantings brightening the winter landscape, and giving depth to the summer views (although it needs sunshine and shouldn’t be too shaded). It is pest-resistant in my experience, a relatively low maintenance tree.
The Look of this Shrub
Another name for this plant is Hinoki Cypress, the gracilis describes the form, which is graceful and more open. There are others like minima, so check the name. Its texture and color are a nice variation with other evergreens.It may be used as a specimen feature, with other plants in a dooryard planting, or even the edge of a border.
The branches are scales on branchlets in a fanlike form, and this produces the whorled look that makes the evergreen so graceful and pretty.
False Cypress Cultivation
Sunshine is very important since the inner and lower branches die without it, and won’t rebud.
I grow one bush in a morning sun situation which seems sufficient. Be careful of drying winds, and use an acidifying fertilizer for the neutral to acid condition it likes; be sure to water sufficiently. Results are vastly better with plenty of light from a position in full sun.
They need regular moisture and should not be allowed to dry out, yet good drainage should be maintained for these trees to thrive. I feel I need to repeat this, because a Hinoki cypress without sufficient moisture will never look healthy.
Here’s the low down:
- Hardiness Zone: 4 to 8
- Eventual Height and Width: 9′ X 5′
- Growth Rate: Slow
Plant in fall or early spring, and once established fertilize sparingly with slow-release organic fertilizer during those same times. This is one plant that truly appreciates a blanket of mulch, but remember to keep the trunk area free of mulch (no volcano, please).
Dwarf Hinoki Cypress Tree Form
More Facts about the Hinoki Cypress:5 Unusual Ornamental Trees
- Good Drainage, but Regular Moisture
- Full Sun
- Provide Wind Protection, Occasional Fertilizer
- Susceptible to root rot in wet winters
You can propagate Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’ from semi-ripe cuttings in late summer
Fun Facts About The Hinoki Cypress
- This evergreen has long been used by the Japanese for the art of bonsai.
- Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’ makes an excellent specimen, door entry, or other foundation area planting.
- The name ‘Chamaecyparis‘ comes from the Greek words for “ground” and “cypress”, referring to its dwarf nature; obtusa means “blunt”, maybe because it doesn’t have sharp needles? Or maybe because the foliage fans have a rounded look to them.
Also see the pages for tips on selecting a healthy shrub, and planting it properly: