Winter Interest Plants–Hinoki Cypress

Hinoki Cypress

The Hinoki Cypress (not really a cypress at all–a false cypress, Chamaecyparis obtusa,) is a graceful evergreen shrub that will slowly grow to about 15′.  Slowly is the operative word here–it will take as long as 30 years to reach that eventual height–and if 15′ is too tall for you there are dwarf varieties available that will grow to only 9′ or even 6′.  Look for gracilis or gracilis nana varieties to find shorter versions.

What makes this a truly four season plant is the interesting contorted growth of its scale-like branches.  The foliage is almost arborvitae-like in the way it grows–and then it curves and swoops around as well, as is visible in this photo.

It’s even more interesting in person–and for more visual interest there is a version that is tipped in yellow, ‘aurea.’  That really lights up a winter landscape, even on a cloudy day.

The hinoki cypress looks good alone, as an accent at the corner of a house, as this one is doing. Several of my neighbors use them for just that purpose.  They also serve as interesting accents in mixed evergreen plantings.  They can even be arresting plantings in mixed shrub and perennial beds (the mixed garden, as it can be called).  Its deep green color will draw the eye from afar.

The shrub does best in full sun and slightly acidic soil and will grow in zones 5-8.  As with most evergreens, it won’t tolerate “wet feet.”

This one is growing next to a “pjm” rhododendron and the burgundy leaves of that rhodie is providing a nice foil for its deep green foliage.

Rather than choosing a troublesome, disease prone Alberta spruce for an accent plant, try one of these lovely evergreens.  You won’t be sorry.

2 thoughts on “Winter Interest Plants–Hinoki Cypress

  1. Laurrie January 25, 2013 / 11:55 am

    That’s a beautiful specimen you posted. How I wanted Hinoki Cypress in my garden — I planted gracilis nana twice, but both were stripped bare by deer, and false cypress doesn’t regrow branch damage. I wanted to use them as accents at the corner of the house as you recommend, so putting a big wire cage around for protection wasn’t an option. Such a graceful, interesting plant.

  2. gardendaze January 25, 2013 / 12:00 pm

    Wow, Laurrie, I had no idea deer would do a number on this plant. My neighbor & I are both on a deer trail and they don’t seem to touch hers–probably too many other tasty things around for them.

    I have a similar story about the ‘Boulevard’ cypress. That’s one I’ve tried twice because I just love it–but that seems to be deer candy in my yard. and it too won’t regrow.

    But as I said in a lecture just Tuesday night–I’m begging my deer to come eat my hosta–they eat too many other things and completely ignore all the tasty hosta I plant for them. Someday that will backfire on me, I realize.

    Thanks for reading!


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