The Slender Hinoki Cypress is a graceful and elegant upright small tree, with layering branches carrying soft foliage of an attractive mid-green color. The foliage is feathery, and arranged in sprays which lay across each other, like waves on the sea. The tree grows at a moderate pace, adding 6 or 8 inches a year. In ten years it will be 6 to 8 feet tall, and it will gradually grow to a mature height of between 15 and 25 feet, depending on the location, climate, and soil conditions. When young the branching structure will be open, arranged in layers. As the tree matures it will become denser, and a mature tree is conical or flame-shaped. It continues to have foliage to the ground as a mature tree, and it does not normally develop a trunk.
This is an ideal medium-sized evergreen tree for a small to medium-sized garden, or as part of a collection in a larger garden. It can be used in the foundation planting around your home, but do not place it below a ground-floor window. Instead use it to fill a corner, or as a pair to frame an entrance. This tree should not be trimmed or clipped to shape, as this will destroy its natural grace and remove the attractive, slightly pendulous branch tips. If you cut back into bare wood, those branches will not re-sprout. When planting, be sure to allow enough space for the final width of the tree, which will be 5 feet or more across. Plant at least 3 feet away from the edge of doorways or windows, so that it does not obstruct them when it matures.
Planting Your Slender Hinoki Cypress
Planted in a lawn the Slender Hinoki Cypress is an eye-catching addition to your garden. Planted in the background of a shrub bed, behind other shrubs, and among flowering trees it will provide permanent, all-year-round structure, against which your flowering plants can do their annual ‘performance’. It looks lovely among other evergreens of different forms and sizes, and a collection of these easily grown bushes is an effective way to decorate your yard with easy-care plants that always look attractive.
Location and Soil Conditions
The Slender Hinoki Cypress is easily grown right across the country, from the cold winters of zone 4 to the mild climate of zone 8. It will grow well in ordinary soil, and really thrive in moist, rich, well-drained soil. If your soil is heavy or sandy, improve it before planting by adding plenty of rich organic material, digging it well into the existing soil. Mulch around your tree every spring during its early years, and water once a week from late spring to fall for the first couple of years. Young trees should not be allowed to become completely dry, but a mature tree, with its deep root system, is moderately drought-resistant.
Choose a sunny or lightly shaded spot for your tree. Do not plant too close to other young trees that could throw too much shade on it as they grow larger. Allow plenty of room for it to mature, so that you do not need to trim it.
History and Origins of the Slender Hinoki Cypress
The Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) is found growing naturally in Japan, where it is a large evergreen tree found in the forests on hillsides. It can grow to over 100 feet tall and it is used as high-quality lumber for the construction of traditional homes and temples. It has some resemblance to the white cedar found throughout the eastern USA, but it is much more graceful and refined, and the fans of foliage twist and spread in a very attractive way. The name ‘Hinoki’ means ‘fire’, because the foliage in winter turns an attractive reddish color. This tree is not a true Cypress tree in the classification of botanists, so it is sometimes also called ‘false cypress’.
Japanese gardeners love this tree, and the many forms that can be found. They have spent centuries collecting these unusual trees, most of which are smaller than the wild tree. Phillip Franz von Siebold was a noted doctor and botanist from Würzburg, Germany, who traveled to Japan in the early years of its opening up to trade with Europe and America. He found this unique form, today called ‘Gracilis’, growing in gardens there. He imported the first specimens to European in the early 1860s, where it was grown by nurseries, and used in many gardens. Very old specimens can still be found in old gardens and parks. At some point plants were brought to America, and this plant has been widely grown, with enormous success, ever since.
This tree should not be confused with the dwarf form of Hinoki Cypress called ‘Nana Gracilis’. This is a much smaller plant, only reaching 5 feet or so after 10 years, and never growing much over 10 feet tall when mature. ‘Gracilis’ is taller and wider, so allow for this when you plant. Our trees are guaranteed to be this larger form, although this will not be apparent in the early years of growth. They are produced for us by growers from stem pieces taken from correctly identified plants. There are many different forms of Hinoki Cypress, so avoid un-named forms, and especially seedling trees, as it is impossible to predict their final form or size unless they are correctly identified.
Buying a Slender Hinoki Cypress at The Tree Center
Here at the Tree Center we always have an interesting collection of these plants, which you can see if you take a look at the pages listed under ‘evergreens’. A grouping of these, chosen for different forms and with different foliage colors, will give you a secure background for your garden, or create interesting beds or foundation planting schemes, fixing your home in its garden setting. This particular variety is not widely available, despite its charming qualities, so our supplies will not last long. Order now and plant one of the most elegant evergreens suitable for every garden.