This tree, more commonly known as a Japanese cedar, is an evergreen with dense, blue-green foliage on pendulous branches. Cryptomeria is a native of eastern Asia and grows best in USDA Zones 6 to 9 in North America. Although this tree is often grown as an ornamental or bonsai tree, it can grow as tall as 60 feet when not kept pruned back. Cryptomeria is a relatively low-maintenance, hardy tree that is a favorite in many landscapes.
Prune cryptomeria from mid-spring through summer. Do not prune your tree in the winter. It is best to prune heavily in the first few years after planting a cryptomeria tree to help ensure the proper growth and shape of the tree. After that, little pruning will be necessary except to keep the shape of the tree.
Pinch off any new growth on the ends of the branches as they sprout. This results in a fuller, bushy appearance and encourages new growth. Pinch off the ends with your fingertips instead of using pruners, which result in browning tips.
Cut out any dead or diseased branches to being with. Cut the branches clear back to the trunk of the tree, but be careful not to remove more than 1/3 of the tree in one season.
Cut out any overlapping branches, especially in the center of the tree. This opens up the center for better air circulation and allows light to reach the center. Removing excessive branches in the center of the tree also reduces problems such as fungus and insect infestation.
Remove unwanted upper branches by cutting clear back to the trunk of the tree. The trunks on Cryptomeria trees tend to thicken at the intersection of a branch, so removing unwanted upper branches allows the trunk to maintain a tapered appearance near the top.
Treat your Cryptomeria tree with extra care for a few weeks after pruning. Cryptomeria trees are sensitive after pruning and need to be protected from hot afternoon sun and wind. This should be taken into consideration when planting your tree. If your tree is grown in a container, it can moved into shady areas in late afternoon and where it is protected from strong winds. Also, mist your tree several times daily to keep it moist.