Fernspray Hinoki CypressChamaecyparis obtusa 'Filicoides'
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Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Filicoides'
Outdoor Growing zone
The Fernspray Hinoki Cypress is a unique evergreen shrub with an upright growth habit, and open branching, ending in fernlike sprays of deep green foliage. Every tree develops a little differently, and each one is full of character and charm. Give lumpy, round evergreens a miss, and grow something special instead. For Asian-themed gardens, or for beds of dwarf conifers, this tree is an essential addition. It is hardy all through zone 4, and it grows steadily to around 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide in about 10 years, ultimately reaching 10 or 15 feet tall if left unpruned.
The Fernspray Hinoki Cypress should be planted in full sun, in any well-drained soil. it will develop its open, unique appearance naturally, so don’t trim or clip it at all. Some pruning and removal of a few branches will give it a more mature, open character if you wish, but it can be left to grow naturally into a rugged and exotic plant you will love. It has no pests or diseases, and it requires no special maintenance to become a centerpiece in any garden setting.
Some dwarf conifers can lack character, especially if they are clipped into balls and other mounded shapes. We could never say that about the Fernspray Hinoki Cypress, which has character in spades, with every individual growing slightly differently, and all of them developing unique irregular forms that really catch the eye. Older trees take on a rugged look that is perfect for that Asian or Zen feel in a garden, full of charm and beauty, but at the same time capturing something of the essence of resistance to adversity and natural endurance – a feeling that is at the heart of the Asian garden aesthetic. Even if your garden is not Asian in feel, the Fernspray Hinoki Cypress fits in too, as every garden needs character and unusual forms. If you like interesting plants that are easy to grow, ask for nothing special, and become more and more beautiful every year, then you should be growing this plant.
The Fernspray Hinoki Cypress is a small to medium-sized upright evergreen bush with leaves of a deep, shining green color. It usually develops one or a few upright stems, with numerous side branches growing out at different angles. These end in rounded sprays of dense foliage, and the formation of the leaves resembles the sprays of fern leaves, which is what the Latin name, ‘filicoides’, means. The main branches soon become bare of leaves, revealing textured bark that is dark gray-brown in color. Older stems show rugged bark, with a tendency to flake off in plates or strips. All of this adds to the ‘wild’ look of this plant, although it was actually found growing in gardens in Japan. In spring the new growth is a brighter, fern-green color, making an attractive contrast with the darker foliage. This tree grows at a slow to moderate rate, adding 6 to 8 inches of new growth a year, and in 10 years it will be about 6 feet tall and about 4 feet wide. Like all dwarf conifers it continues to grow slowly throughout its life, and in 25 years it will probably be 10 to 15 feet tall, and 8 feet or more across. Ancient specimens have been measured at over 40 feet tall, so allow enough room for its later growth when planting – 10 years in a garden passes quickly.
The Fernspray Hinoki Cypress is the perfect plant to add interest and height to a collection of dwarf evergreens growing in a sunny bed. Mulch the soil with gravel and add some boulders for contrast, and you have a fabulous feature that needs almost no maintenance and yet matures and develops into an outstanding element in any garden. It will contrast beautifully with the rounded or spreading form of most other dwarf conifers. Grow a pair on either side of an entrance or doorway. With its moderate height and slower growth, it will not outgrow the space or block windows, yet it has character and charm even from an early age. This is also an ideal plant to use in a large pot or planter box, where the unique form of the foliage can be fully appreciated close up. Place these pots on a terrace or patio, or on a driveway beside the entrance.
It is in Asian gardens, though, that the Fernspray Hinoki Cypress really stands out. It has exactly the rugged character and effect that is seen in a fabulously-expensive bonsai tree, the result of decades of training. Here that effect develops naturally, and in a few years it will bring just the right look to that corner of your courtyard, beside a pool, or contrasting with sprays of bamboo. Grow a fern at the base to create a subtle reference to its name, and to enhance the beauty of both plants. With its narrow form and height, it brings character without taking up room and it will never make even the smallest oriental corner look overplanted. It can also, of course, be turned into a real bonsai, and its natural habit makes it halfway there already.
This tough bush grows without damage even in colder places in zone 4, as well as thriving in all but the hottest states.
The Fernspray Hinoki Cypress grows best in full sun, and it will grow well in most garden soils, as long as they are not constantly wet. Once established it is moderately drought resistant, but summers in Japan are damp, and Japanese plants rarely have great resistance to dryness, so water regularly during the summer months for the best growth.
This tree has no significant pests or diseases. It should never be trimmed with shears or hedge trimmers, as this will destroy its natural character. Its width can be controlled by pruning in spring, before the new growth appears, and branches can be removed to enhance its open character, which will give it a more mature look.
The Hinoki Cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa, is also called the false cypress, because the fan-like sprays of foliage resemble that of true cypress trees. This tree is a large forest tree in Japan, often reaching over 100 feet tall. It is an important timber tree, and it is also held sacred in some Japanese religions. The Japanese collected and grew many dwarf and unusual forms they found in their gardens. The form called ‘Filicoides’ was found in a nursery in Japan by the German plant collector Philipp von Siebold, and he brought plants home around 1860. From Germany this remarkable plant was spread around the world.
This plant is always in high demand for its unique character, and it is relatively rare in America. We have acquired some beautiful specimens, but collectors and lovers of the unusual will soon deplete our stock, so order now and enjoy something unique, special, and yet easy to grow.