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How to Care for Hinoki Cypress Trees

By Sarah Morse ; Updated September 21, 2017
Hinoki cypress is one of the most valuable timber sources in Japan.
hofeinfahrt image by Monty Schumacher from Fotolia.com

The hinoki cypress tree, also called Chamaecyparis obtusa and false cypress, appears in various cultivars ranging in height from 5 to 75 feet tall. This evergreen, conical pine tree has dark-green, blue-green or lemon colored foliage shaped like ferns. The hinoki cypress grows best in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 to 8, where the temperature does not drop below -30 degrees F. To care for a hinoki cypress, create the correct environment for the plant.

Plant the hinoki cypress in an area with partial or full sun and well-drained soil. Avoid planting it in direct sun, however, as sun scorch on some varieties may ensue, especially before the plant has a chance to establish itself.

Lay down a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant. The hinoki cypress likes moist, cool soil and the mulch will help keep it this way. It will also keep down any competing weeds.

Water the plant, keeping the soil consistently moist. When it starts growing on its own, decrease the amount of watering. Stop watering over the winter to harden the tree off so it can protect itself from harsh weather. Resume watering in the spring, watering only when the soil dries. The cypress likes a humid environment.

Prune the hinoki cypress with pruning shears when upright branches fork. The wind often breaks these branches, injuring the tree. Only cut into new wood and avoid cutting older, brown branches. Also clip dead branches and new branches that seem out of place.


Things You Will Need

  • Hinoki cypress
  • Mulch
  • Pruning shears


  • Avoid planting the hinoki cypress in areas with air pollution problems. The plant does not tolerate it well.
  • Fertilize the cypress only when needed. If the foliage discolors it could mean a nitrogen or iron deficiency, which you can fix with fertilizer.

About the Author


Sarah Morse has been a writer since 2009, covering environmental topics, gardening and technology. She holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature, a master's degree in English and a master's degree in information science.