Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in part shade. Prefers moist, fertile soils. Avoid wet, poorly-drained soils. Shelter from strong winds. Pruning is rarely needed.
Chamaecyparis pisifera, commonly known as Sawara cypress, is a large, pyramidal, evergreen conifer that grows in the wild to 50-70’ (infrequently to 150') tall with a trunk diameter to 5'. In cultivation, it more typically matures to a much smaller 20-30' tall. It is naive to the Japanese islands of Honshu and Kyushu. Fine-textured medium green needles are tinted white beneath. Cones are small (1/4" across) and ornamentally insignificant, appearing glaucous green during summer before turning black-brown when ripe. Reddish brown bark peels in strips. Species plants are rarely sold in commerce, but a large number of more compact cultivars including some dwarfs are available for purchase.
Three well known forms of C. pisifera are: (1) C. pisifera f. filifera (threadbranch sawara cypress featuring drooping, whip or cord-like branches covered primarily with scale-like adult leaves), (2) C. pisifera f. plumosa (plume sawara cypress featuring feathery, airy and ferny branches covered with part adult/part juvenile leaves) and (3) C. pisifera f. squarrosa (moss sawara cypress featuring branches with soft, needle-like juvenile leaves).
Genus name comes from Greek chamai meaning dwarf or to the ground and kyparissos meaning cypress tree.
Specific epithet comes from the Latin word pissum meaing pea and ferre meaing to bear in reference to the very small rounded cones.
‘Filifera’ is noted for its drooping, medium to dark green foliage. This is a dense, semi-dwarf, evergreen shrub that typically grows as a broad cone. It is slow growing, often reaching only 6-8’ tall in 15 years, but may eventually reach 15’ tall in optimum conditions. Features weeping, thread-like foliage that provides excellent texture and color to foundation plantings. Foliage acquires yellow tones in winter. Small cones appear only on mature plants. Peeling, reddish-brown bark develops on mature branches. This cultivar, as well as other Filifera cultivars, is also often commonly called threadleaf false cypress in recognition of the thread-like foliage.
No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to juniper blight, root rot and certain insect pests such as bagworms.
Species and large growing cultivars for lawn specimen, shrub borders and screen.
Dwarf cultivars for rock gardens, foundation plantings or specimen.