How to Prune an Alaskan Weeping Cedar


The natural beauty of the weeping branches and sprays of scaly foliage on a weeping Alaskan cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula') makes pruning a rare task. Occasionally twig die-back or an errant branch warrants removal or the size and shape needs reducing. Avoid shearing this tree all over so that the elegant form is not destroyed.

Step 1

Examine the overall size, shape and form of the weeping tree. Note which areas of the tree warrant trimming or branch removal. Focus on maintaining the habit of the tree rather than on large-scale pruning. Rarely does this plant need pruning.

Step 2

Reduce twig tip length on branches by making a pruning cut one fourth of an inch above a green spray cluster of needles on the twig. Avoid cutting across needles. A close look at a branch reveals green-colored stems of the pendent foliage, whereas the twig is reddish brown. Always make the cut on the twig.

Step 3

Step back and look at the area just pruned. You should not be able to visually notice the pruning cut or an abrupt change in the graceful habit of the branch end. If you wish to shorten the branch further, repeat Step 2, cutting farther back, always preserving the weeping sprays of foliage.

Tips and Warnings

  • When in doubt, start with smaller, shorter-length tip prunes. Once a twig or foliage spray is removed, you don't get a second chance.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners (secateurs)


  • University of California Cooperative Extension: Consider the Time of Year Before Pruning Conifers
  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Pruning Woody Landscape Plants
  • Learn2Grow: Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula'
Keywords: pruning evergreens, pruning weeping plants, Chamaecyparis

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.