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How to Prune Hinoki Cypress

The Hinoki cypress or Hinoki false cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) varies widely in size. Mature trees can top 120 feet, while dwarf cultivars stay shrub-like, reaching 10 or 20 feet. Floridata notes that the dwarf form is far more common. Depending on the cultivar, this plant may have lime green or dark green foliage; its branches twist slightly for added visual interest. Hinoki cypress benefits from annual pruning in the late winter to early spring, once frost danger passes.

Identify dead, diseased or damaged branches on your Hinoki cypress. Dead branches may have brown or red foliage and feel brittle. Damaged or diseased growth can appear discolored, wounded or scarred. Removing this wood keeps the shrub healthy and attractive.

Cut dead, diseased and damaged branches off at their base, using anvil pruners for cuts thinner than 3/4 inch and lopping shears for thicker cuts. In between each cut, sanitize your pruning tools to prevent the spread of disease by spraying them with disinfectant.

Find forked branches on the Hinoki cypress and eliminate one of them to create a single branch. If left forked, these branches are more likely to snap under the weight of ice or snow, notes Floridata.

Clip back the tips of branches with anvil pruners to keep your shrub compact.

Remove branches that cross other branches by cutting them off at the base. Also cut away branches that grow downward or detract from the appearance of your shrub.


Like all cypress, Hinoki has a dead zone in the center of the plant where the stem is brown. Avoid cutting into this zone, since a branch cut back that far will not generate new leaves.

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