False cypress

These hardy evergreen conifers range from tiny specimens for troughs to medium-sized and large trees. Foliage colours include blue, gold and many shades of green. The foliage is soft and made up of flat fans of branchlets.

Suitable site and soil. Their preference is for moist but well-drained soils. Drier sites or chalky soils produce tighter, slower specimens. Very dwarf kinds are best grown in gritty ‘alpine’ soils but must not be allowed to become too dry.

Cultivation and care. As they will always be sold in pots, they can be planted out at any reasonable time of year. Water weekly (give a thorough soaking) in hot or dry weather.

Propagation. Difficult to propagate as special equipment is needed to take cuttings.

Recommended varieties. C. Imvsoniana ‘Ellwoodii’ is a medium-sized tree (2.4m – 8ft after 10 years) that forms a bushy, grey-green column. ‘Ellwood’s Gold’ is more compact with golden tips. ‘Lane’ has feathery, golden foliage. ‘Minima Glauca’ is a perfect, dark green globe suitable for a rockery. ‘Pembury Blue’ is medium, conical in shape and an outstanding silver-blue colour. C. obtusa ‘Nana’ is a very small, compact, dark green ‘bun’; ‘Nana Gracilis’ is taller (90cm – 3ft after 10 years), with similar foliage. C. pisifera ‘Boulevard’ is a medium size with steely, silver-blue, soft foliage that scorches in full sun. ‘Filifera Aurea’ is small to medium and conical and its branch ends are whip-like and gold.

Pests and diseases. Trouble free.


It is worth making sure exactly what species your tree is before you attempt to move it. Chamaecyparis can be moved even when quite large, while the true cypresses (Cupressus species) are very temperamental and may die if they are moved or even clipped.

Cupressocyparis leylandii is a cross between the two and makes a fast hedge which is relatively tough. Take the tops out at the height you require and clip the hedge to create, then maintain, a good shape.

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