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Zones A3, 2B, 3-6, 15-17, 32, 34, 39
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Chamaecyparis pisifera

Sawara False Cypress
Cupressaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees

CHAMAECYPARIS

Conifers ranging from rock garden shrublets to timber trees. Sometimes mistaken for arborvitae (Thuja), but arborvitae’s leaves are entirely green, while false cypresses have white lines on 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.

All of the many varieties sold are forms of five species’two from western U.S., two from Japan, one from eastern U.S. New varieties appear each year, while older ones lose market share. Mislabeling is common, since many of these plants closely resemble one another. Numerous dwarf and variegated kinds are available, providing a rich array of choices for bonsai and rock gardens.

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

Japanese native to 20–30 ft., rarely seen except in its garden varieties.

'Filifera'

Grows into a dense mound to 8 ft. tall and wide, has drooping, threadlike branchlets.

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Chamaecyparis pisifera

Japanese native to 20–30 ft., rarely seen except in its garden varieties.

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera'

Grows into a dense mound to 8 ft. tall and wide, has drooping, threadlike branchlets.

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Cyano-Viridis'

Dense, slow-growing, upright to 8 ft. high and 6 ft. wide at the base; Christmas tree shape. Lush foli...

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