Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Chamaecyparis pisifera (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)
Chamaecyparis pisifera (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)

Click to Enlarge

Zone
Zones A3, 2B, 3-6, 15-17, 32, 34, 39
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Chamaecyparis pisifera

Sawara False Cypress
Cupressaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees

CHAMAECYPARIS

Intensive selection has brought these Japanese and American timber trees down in scale, so most varieties fit well into suburban gardens (some even work as container plants). Dense, richly textured foliage makes them easy to mistake for arborvitae (Thuja), but arborvitae’s leaves are entirely green, while false cypresses have white lines on the leaf undersides. Most have two distinct types of foliage: juvenile and mature. Juvenile leaves are short, needlelike, soft but often prickly; they appear on young plants and some new growth of larger trees. Mature foliage consists of tiny, scalelike, overlapping leaves. Cones are small and round.

New varieties appear each year—hundreds are on the market at any moment—and mislabeling is common, since many of these plants closely resemble one another. Numerous dwarf and variegated kinds are well suited for bonsai and rock gardens.

All except C. thyoides are native to the Pacific Rim, so they prosper in humid environments. Pinch out or cut back tips of new growth to control size and shape; don’t cut back into old, leafless wood. All types, including trees, can be sheared into hedges. All need good drainage and protection from wind.

Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Cyano-Viridis’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Cyano-Viridis’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

Click to Enlarge

Chamaecyparis pisifera

Japanese native to 20–30 ft., rarely seen except in its garden varieties. Silvery blue-green ‘Cyano-Viridis’ (‘Boulevard’) is a dense, slow-growing bush to 6–8 ft. tall and wide. ‘Filifera’, a dense mound to 8 ft., has drooping, threadlike branchlets; ‘Filifera Aurea’ has similar branchlets in yellow. ‘Mops’ has threadlike branchlets, forms a 1–2-ft. mound.

You Might Also Like...

Chamaecyparis pisifera

Japanese native to 20–30 ft., rarely seen except in its garden varieties. Silvery blue-green &ls...

Primula japonica

Grows to 2 1/2 ft. high and 1 1/2 ft. wide. Spoon-shaped, light green leaves to 9 in. long. ...

Ligularia

Stately perennials from China and Japan. These form 3-ft.-wide clumps of large leaves topped by daisy-...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More

Advertisement