Cryptomeria – The Japanese Cedars

About Heronswood Cryptomerias

Choice evergreens with unique foliage of almost plastic texture, our selections of Cryptomeria offer a variety of form, from dwarf cushions to more open and tree-like. Although they might give the appearance of the needle-like juvenile foliage of, say, juniper or false cypress, Cryptomeria foliage is gentle on the hands (does not "bite"). Winter color ranges from stable green to russet to purplish, depending on the cultivar. Known for their tolerance of all but poorly drained, wet soil conditions, cryptomerias are also known to tolerate a bit of shade. Dr. Michael Dirr says the cryptomerias are "an accommodating tree, graceful, stately, and handsome…" Given their diversity of form, cleanliness of habit, and ease of culture, it is a wonder why these plants are not more common in the landscape.

Where should I plant my Cryptomeria?

Cryptomeria are somewhat shade tolerant, but grow lush in sunny locations receiving five or more hours of direct sun each day. The more shade, the thinner and rangier the plant. Soil should be of average fertility and texture, but well-drained.

How do I plant my Cryptomeria?

Keep root ball moist (but not soaking wet) until planting. If you are unable to plant soon, keep the plant outdoors in a sheltered, shaded location away from direct sun and wind. At planting, dig a hole only as deep as the root ball, but at least as wide as twice the diameter of the root ball (the wider the hole, the better!). Add humus (compost, peat moss) to the soil removed from the planting hole before backfilling. Loosen the roots of your cryptomeria. Do not be afraid to cut the outer roots to break them free before backfilling, so that the roots have good contact with the soil. Make sure to keep the plant high enough when backfilling so that the finished soil surface is even with the top of the original root ball. Remember: digging and planting too deeply is one of the most common factors contributing to the loss of newly planted trees and shrubs. Water-in well to soak the soil and encourage soil contact with the roots.

How do I maintain the beauty of my cryptomeria from year to year?

When rainfall is scarce or less than one inch per week, water weekly for the first year after planting. Watering will necessarily be more critical the first few weeks after planting, especially if dry, sunny, and hot weather follows. A one to two inch layer of coarse mulch over the root zone will help maintain soil moisture. Once established a few years, cryptomerias are generally maintenance-free and require supplemental watering only in severe, prolonged drought situations. Pruning, if necessary, should be selective; remove dead or damaged stems and foliage in early summer.