Japanese cedar is an attractive evergreen for gardens, with soft, mid-green foliage that is a good addition to any planting arrangement. However, most varieties of Japanese cedar are small, slow-growing rounded bushes of only ordinary charms. What is magical about the Magic Dragon Japanese Cedar is its growth-rate. This tree grows 12 to 18 inches a year, so it rapidly develops into a beautiful evergreen specimen in your garden. It can be used as a single specimen, as an upright group among other plants, or as a beautiful, soft hedge. This makes it especially valuable in new gardens, where rapid growth is important to establish the form and structure of your garden. This tree is also unusual because it remains a lovely green color all winter, rather than turning a dull bronze, as many other varieties of Japanese cedar do.
Growing Magic Dragon Japanese Cedar
The Magic Dragon Japanese Cedar grows rapidly into an upright narrow pyramid of green, with soft foliage that gives the whole tree a delicate appearance, although it is in fact a tough, reliable plant. It will soon reach 10 feet tall, and if unpruned it will continue to grow to perhaps 30 feet tall. All this time it will stay quite narrow, in a slightly pyramidal shape. Trees that are 10 feet tall are normally no more than 3 feet across, and even at full size it will not be more than 10 feet wide.
When this tree is young it’s rounded, and it may take a couple of years to establish itself in your garden before sending up tall central shoots and beginning its rapid growth into an upright form. These shoots are easily removed to keep your plant rounded, if you wish to do that. The whole plant is easily trimmed into shape, if you want a more formal structure in your garden. For a hedge, plant in a row, spacing the plants 3 feet apart. For an informal screen, space plants 4 or 5 feet apart.
Uses in Your Garden
This form creates a lovely upright accent in the garden, and it looks especially beautiful clustered in a group of 3 plants, or even 5 in a larger garden. A pair can be grown to frame a doorway or entrance. One or a group can be planted near your home to fill an awkward corner, or the space between windows. If you want a narrow hedge or screen, then this is an ideal choice. With its rapid rate of growth you soon will have a lovely hedge, which can be clipped into a neat, formal shape, or allowed to grow naturally into a dense screen. It is an ideal choice for medium-sized screens between 6 and 15 feet tall.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant your Magic Dragon Japanese Cedar in a sunny or lightly-shaded location, in an area that does not get too dry, but that is not always wet. Enrich the soil with plenty of organic material when planting, and mulch your trees each year with a rich, organic mulch such as compost or manure. It has no significant pests or diseases, and it is rarely bothered by deer. This is an easy, yet handsome plant to grow, and will be a lovely addition to any garden. It is especially useful for Japanese-inspired gardens, and looks wonderful behind Japanese Maples and other Asian plants, such as Nandina, the sacred bamboo.
History and Origins of the Magic Dragon Cryptomeria Tree
Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) is a tall forest tree that is native to Japan, where it can grow over 200 feet tall. In its natural form it is grown mainly as a lumber tree and the aromatic, light wood is highly prized. Because it has been cultivated for centuries a great many different varieties have been collected, but many are simply small, round shrubs that are good choices for lower foundation planting. The variety ‘Gyokuryu’ means ‘jade dragon’ in Japanese, referring to it always staying green throughout the winter months. This selection was introduced into the USA from Japan in 1967 by the conifer collector Joel Spingarn of Baldwin, Long Island.
Buying Magic Dragon Japanese Cedar
Because of its special characteristics, this tree cannot be grown from seed, but must be reproduced from carefully-selected stem pieces taken from correctly-identified parent plants. Cheap seedling Japanese cedars will grow into a large tree with a trunk, not the neat pyramid of foliage produced by the Magic Dragon. This variety of Japanese Cedar is rarely available, so collectors and knowledgeable gardeners will be rushing to buy it. We have a good stock of plants, but we do not expect them to be with us long, so order now.