The Tree Center

Save 10% with code: SPRING10

Wissels Saguaro Cypress

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wissel's Saguaro'

1 Review

Wissels Saguaro Cypress

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wissel's Saguaro'

1 Review

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress is a unique and exotic small form of the Lawson cypress tree, that resembles the Saguaro Cactus trees of Arizona. It has twisted, coral-like foliage that grows tightly on upright side stems coming from a single central trunk. These grow fat and tight, looking like the arms of that famous cactus. It grows at a moderate rate, reaching about 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide in ten years. It makes an eye-catching and appealing specimen in your garden, or in a pot. Grow it among rocks and gravel or paired on either side of a gate. It will give you garden a special look.

  • Exotic growth resembling the saguaro cactus
  • blue-green foliage in tight, upright stems
  • Needs no special training to become a stunning specimen
  • Reaches 6 feet within 10 years
  • Easily grown in ordinary garden conditions

Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress grows easily in full sun or partial shade, in ordinary to moist well-drained garden soil. Once established it has some drought tolerance, but this tree grows best where summers are not too hot and winters not too cold. It has no significant pests or diseases, and it need no special training to develop its unique shape. You can emphasize the ‘cactus’ look by pruning in mid-spring or mid-summer, removing some stems to leave just the main ‘arms’ to develop.

Plant Hardiness Zones 5-7
Mature Width 2
Mature Height 6
Soil Conditions Moist, Well-Drained Soil
Sunlight Full Sun to Partial Shade
Drought Tolerance Fair Drought Tolerance
Zones 5-7

To make your garden your own, it needs distinctive character. One way to do that is with a collection of unique and unusual plants growing among the more ordinary, low-maintenance shrubs and plants that are needed in every garden. Ideally, that specimen will have a special look, be eye-catching and appealing even to non-gardeners, and hopefully also be easy to care for. Some interesting plants are very slow-growing, so you wait a long, long time for a mature specimen to develop, like an investment with a slow return – but not all of them. Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress is very eye-catching, resembling the famous Saguaro Cactus of Arizona, with twisted branches like upraised arms. It is sure to attract attention, yet it is easy to grow, and reaches 6 feet within ten years, so you won’t wait long for a great specimen to develop.

Growing Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress Trees

Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress is an upright evergreen bush, reaching 6 feet tall after 10 years of growth, and being just 2 feet wide at that time. Unlike a regular upright evergreen, which forms a smooth column of green, this one is irregular, with tight, twisted foliage wrapping itself around every stem, creating a number of ‘arms’ branching from the central trunk and then immediately turning upwards. It grows at a moderately fast rate, adding 6 to 8 inches of new height on its branches each year. The foliage of the ordinary Lawson Cypress grows in flattened fans of green, not very different from other cypress or arborvitae. In this variety, the foliage is very different, with multiple small stems growing together (called ‘fastigiate’) and in tight clusters, looking like branching coral. It is a deep blue-green color, adding to the cactus-like effect.

Such a dramatic plant deserves a prominent place in your garden. Plant it as a specimen among rocks and gravel, perhaps with other interesting conifers nearby, or with some hardy cactus, to enhance the illusion. Grow it in a courtyard or by a sunny terrace, and its exotic look would also work well in an Asian-style garden. It is also excellent in a planter or large pot, where it can be placed on a terrace or patio to be admired. A pair could frame a doorway, a garden gate or a window, and it would be effective as a single plant, or placed in groups of three or five. If you plant a cluster like that, allow at least 3 feet between each plant, or they will merge into a less-attractive mass of vegetation.

Planting and Initial Care

Grow Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress in full sun, although it will tolerate a little shade for part of the day as well. It grows best in moist, well-drained soil, preferring slightly acidic ground, but it is very adaptable, and grows well in almost any well-drained soil, as long as it is not often dry, or highly alkaline. Once established it will tolerate normal periods of summer dryness, but it should be watered deeply during extended periods of drought. It prefers moderate temperatures, and it thrives in zone 5 and 6 and it normally has no significant pests or diseases, and it is very easy to grow. It needs no pruning, but you can emphasize the ‘cactus’ look by removing some of the smaller branches, especially any that grow horizontally. Leave just a few arms to develop, and this will give the most dramatic look. Prune in mid-spring before the new growth appears, or in mid-summer as soon as that growth has matured. Only remove small branches and don’t cut into old wood.

History and Origins of Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress Trees

The story of Wissel’s Saguaro Cypress is an interesting one. It is a form of the Lawson Cypress, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana. That tree grows wild in the forests of Oregon and north-western California, from the coast up the valleys into the mountains, to 5,000 feet above sea level. These are tall trees, with straight, towering trunks that can be 200 feet tall. It was first seen in Europe after the nursery of Lawson & Son, Edinburgh, Scotland sent an explorer and plant collector to western America in the 1850s. Because of this it is called the Lawson cypress, but in Oregon it is also called the Port Orford cypress, the place where the first trees were found growing. The tree is popular in Europe, and in 1885 a unique-looking individual was found at a forestry station in Tharandt, Germany. A nurseryman from Epe, Germany, called F. van der Wissel, began selling plants of this tree, and it was called ‘Wisselii’. It is a large, upright tree with dense, coral-like foliage. Then, in the early 1960s a nurseryman in Mijdrecht, The Netherlands, called J.B.A. Dekker, found a witch’s broom growing on a tree of ‘Wisselii’. It had even more pronounced coral-like foliage, and it grew with just one central stem into a small tree. It was released into the market by the K.A. Koemans Nursery of Boskoop, and its resemblance to the saguaro cactus, Carnegiea gigantea, led to this form being called ‘Wissel’s Saguaro’. 

It takes a lot of detective work to track down these specialized plants at small growers, and to be able to offer them to you. Our clients know that we have unique plants, and since the supply is very limited, they sell-out very quickly indeed. Order now, as special plants like this are never regular stock items, and they may not be back for a long time.

Back to top

Wissels Saguaro Cypress

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wissel's Saguaro'

1 Review