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How to Grow Hinoki Cypress

The Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa), also called the false cypress, is a conical-shaped evergreen conifer that has dark-green, fern-like foliage and reddish-brown, peeling bark. Some varieties have vibrant bluish-green foliage as well. While the wild species can reach a height of 50 to 75 feet and a spread of 20 feet or more, there is a broad range of size for the many cultivars--one popular cultivar, ‘nana gracilis,’ grows to about 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide. This slow-growing tree grows best in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 through 8, where minimum winter temperatures stay above -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Choose a planting site for your Hinoki cypress that receives full to partial sunlight. The ideal planting site should have moist but well-draining soil. While mildly acidic soil is best, the Hinoki cypress does well in soils with pH from 5.0 (acidic) to 7.5 (mildly alkaline).

Dig a planting hole for your Hinoki cypress that’s slightly shallower than the height of the root ball and twice the width. Loosen the soil on the sides and bottom of the planting hole using your shovel.

Remove the Hinoki cypress from the nursery container or burlap sack. Carefully loosen the roots and set the Hinoki cypress’s roots into the planting hole so that the tree is standing straight up.

Backfill the planting hole with the displaced soil, ensuring that the top of the root ball is about 1 inch above ground level. Refill the planting hole while watering the soil to eliminate any air pockets around the roots.

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of bark mulch on the ground around the Hinoki cypress to control weeds and retain soil moisture. Keep the mulch about 1 to 2 inches away from the trunk.

Water your Hinoki cypress twice each week during the first spring and summer after planting it, soaking the soil down to the root zone to keep the soil thoroughly moistened. In subsequent years, water your Hinoki cypress once each week during the growing season when rainfall is less than 3/4 inch per week.

Feed your Hinoki cypress once every two weeks from early spring to mid-autumn with a lime-free, water-soluble 30-10-10 NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium) fertilizer made for acid-loving plants. Use 1 tablespoon of the fertilizer per 1 gallon of water and follow the application directions on the label.


Prune your Hinoki cypress in late fall or early spring to remove any crowded, dead, diseased or damaged growth.

You can also feed your Hinoki cypress 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts once every three months to provide magnesium, which will keep the foliage a vibrant blue color. Add the Epsom salts to the water during a watering session.


Don’t overwater your Hinoki cypress, because it’s susceptible to root rot. Watch out for juniper scale insects and bagworms infesting your Hinoki cypress. Apply an appropriate insecticide to your cypress, following the directions on the label exactly.

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