Winter color is such an important feature in the garden, keeping it attractive far outside the main gardening seasons. For an all-year-round garden you need evergreens, and there are many plants that stay colorful, perhaps in blue or gold, throughout the year. There are far fewer though that make winter the high point of their year, putting on special colors just for that season, and becoming great winter features. Top of the list of this unique group must be the Mushroom Japanese Cedar, a perfect plant for smaller gardens, and a great, easy-care addition to your beds.
Growing Mushroom Japanese Cedar Trees
The Mushroom Japanese Cedar is a superb mounding evergreen, with soft foliage that is bright green in spring and summer, and then turns a stunning shade of purple-brown to reddish-brown for the winter. It grows steadily into a low, broad mound, wider than tall, that in 10 years will be about 2 feet tall and 3 feet across. At that size it is large enough to make a real statement, yet it is easily fitted into a smaller garden, in the foreground of beds in a larger one, or even mass-planted in groups, for low-maintenance winter interest. Like all conifer evergreens it continues to grow throughout its life, adding 2 or 3 inches a year, to become in time a grand old specimen in your garden.
Unlike most other evergreens, the Mushroom Japanese Cedar is soft to the touch, so brushing past it with bare legs is not a painful experience, but a pleasure. The airy mound of foliage is made up of many small stems, each one covered in small, narrow leaves that point towards the end of the branch. The foliage creates a soft mound of slightly drooping branches, more rounded than truly weeping. In spring the new growth is bright green, maturing in summer into a darker shade of green. When cooler weather arrives, the whole plant turns a deep, rich purple-brown, with reddish overtones – a complete transformation into a different plant. In spring the light green coloring returns for another spring and summer.
Uses on Your Property
The Mushroom Japanese Cedar would be great as part of the foundation planting around your house, among boulders with other evergreens, beside a pond or stream, or in mixed shrub beds. It would look perfect at the top of a wall or coming down a slope. In a simple courtyard or gravel garden it would really stand out, and it fits perfectly into Asian themes. As a simple but very effective way to fill planter boxes and large pots it is hard to beat, alone or with other shrubs and flowers.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant the Mushroom Japanese Cedar in full sun or light partial shade. It is hardy in sheltered spots in zone 5, and hardy everywhere in warmer zones, from 6 to 9, thriving in areas with some summer rainfall. It will grow in most ordinary garden soils, except for soil that is constantly wet. It grows best with moisture, and it should be watered regularly, especially when newly planted, and during dry periods. Mulching around the roots in spring will conserve soil-moisture and feed your tree at the same time. Some fertilizer is beneficial, applied in spring and early summer, and although you could trim lightly, it is certainly not necessary, and leaving your plant to grow naturally is better.
History and Origins of the Mushroom Japanese Cedar
The Mushroom Japanese Cedar is a selected form of the Japanese Cedar (cryptomeria japonica). This tree grows in forests throughout the islands of Japan where it can exceed 100 feet in height. It is the National Tree of Japan, called sugi. It also grows in parts of China, descendants from trees introduced thousands of years ago. It is an important lumber tree, and the wood is aromatic, and used for special furniture, like trunks, and in building temples. This tree has two types of foliage, depending on the age of the stems. On young stems the juvenile foliage is longer and thin, with a soft texture. Older branches have stiffer, shorter and sharper needles.
Some varieties of this plant keep their soft juvenile foliage for life, and the variety called ‘Mushroom’ is one of them. This explains why the whole plant has such a gentle, soft feel. The origins of this unique variety are not clear. It probably originated in Japan, and it seems to have first arrived in nurseries in Australia, and from there it was brought to America. Beyond that we know little – except what an exceptional plant it is.
Our plants are produced by rooting stem pieces taken from exactly the right plant – this is the only way to be sure you really have the variety you want. We specialize in unique evergreens, and our customers quickly buy special plants like this. Order now while our limited stock of this plant is still available – it will soon be gone.