False-cypresses | Chamaecyparis

False-cypresses | Chamaecyparis


Author: Richard Tame

False-cypresses (genus Chamaecyparis) are a group of conifers with scale-like foliage that are well-known throughout the gardening world. Like the Leyland cypress, Chamaecyparis make good hedging plants, but are much slower growing than the former. In many ways this is a benefit, because Chamaecyparis hedges will not need to be trimmed as regularly. A short trim during late summer should be enough, although care should be taken not to over-prune, as Chamaecyparis, like many conifers, does not have the ability to sprout from old wood. Many Chamaecyparis cultivars, particularly C. obtusa ‘Nana’ and C. pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’ make excellent specimen plants. The smaller varieties are good for borders,
or for planting in pots.

Chamaecyparis are hardy plants and will tolerate low temperatures and most soil types. That said, although they can survive in alkaline soils such as chalk, these should generally be avoided in favour of acidic soils. These trees also tolerate a wide range of soil moisture – although extremely dry or extremely wet conditions may cause unnecessary stress. Most varieties can withstand some shade, although full sun is preferable.

The following is a list of some of the Chamaecyparis cultivars sold at Arundel Arboretum.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Lawson’s Cypress)

Originally from the Pacific coast of the USA, this tree can attain heights of 30 metres and above over many decades, owing to its slow growth.


A conical tree reaching heights of several metres, suitable for hedging, with yellow to pale green sprays.


Attractive blue foliage provides an interesting contrast to most hedging plants, a good choice for a slow-growing, low-maintenance hedge.


Compared to the flat scales of other C. lawsoniana cultivars, this plant has soft blue spines, giving it a rounded, almost fluffier appearance.

Erecta Viridis

A tall variety with the potential to grow over 20 metres, with dark green foliage.
Suitable for hedging.


Almost identical properties to ‘Columnaris’, except for its light green foliage.

Pelt’s Blue

Distinctive blue foliage and small overall size (rarely growing over a few metres in height) make this variety a good specimen plant.


Very similar in colour and height to ‘Alumigold’. Good for hedging.

White Spot

Small variety, with (as its name suggests) white flecks on the sprays. Not so suitable for hedging, but can be grown happily in small pots and beds.

Chamaecyparis obtusa

The hinoki cypress originates in Japan, and is well-known for its rot-resistant, aromatic wood which is used in Japan for temple construction.


A small, columnar shrub, usually no bigger than 2 metres. Its small size and slow growth make it an ideal choice for an urban garden or container.


A bushy, squat plant which makes an excellent ornamental/specimen plant but is not so good for hedging.

Chamaecyparis pisifera

Like C.obtusa, this tree is native to Japan, where it can reach heights of 30 metres.


A medium sized tree with dense, blue foliage. Suitable for hedging.

Filifera Aurea

Pretty, pendulous, golden foliage gives this variety its distinctive appearance.  Medium sized, good specimen tree.

Filifera Nana

Similar to ‘Filifera Aurea’, the main differences being its darker foliage and small size. Tolerant of shade and restricted space, making it a good pot plant.

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