A group of elegant evergreen conifers related to the redwood (Sequoia). Although the main species grows far too tall for most gardens, several smaller, slow growing variants are available.

Family: Cupressaceae
Botanical Name: Cryptomeria
Common Names: Japanese Cedar

Foliage: Evergreen. Glossy green, short needle-like leaves that turn red reddish bronze in autumn. Attractive red-brown bark.

Flowers/Cones: Green female flowers appear at the tips of new shoots in spring. Followed by small brown spherical cones on mature trees.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Grow in any aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Tall, cone shaped, columnar or bushy, depending on variety.

Type: Tall tree or small shrub.

Origin: China and Japan

Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Cryptomeria

Container grown specimens can be planted whenever soil conditions allow. Grows well in any reasonable soil and in most situations, but does best in a moist but well-drained, slightly acid, deep loam, in full sun. Tolerates chalky soils. 

Makes a good specimen tree or shrub. Ideal for a large woodland garden.

Taking Care of Cryptomeria

Protect from cold when young and shelter from strong winds.

Pruning Cryptomeria

Not usually necessary. Trim hedges in August. 

Pests and Diseases

Can be affected by phytophthora root rot and honey fungus.

Propagating Cryptomeria

Take cuttings in spring or autumn and root in propagator or cold frame. The species can be raised from seed.

Varieties of Cryptomeria

Cryptomeria japonica is the main species, producing a broad, tall, pyramidal shaped tree with red-brown, shredding bark and dark-green leaves. Height to 100ft (30m) or more. Cultivars include:

  • 'Banda-isugi' a slow growing dwarf form. Height around 6ft (2m).
  • 'Cristata' forms a medium-sized conical tree. Height to  50ft (15m).
  • 'Elegans' an elegant rounded from with soft, billowy, long leaves. Glaucous green in summer, turning bronze-red in autumn. Height to 20ft (6m). Good choice for smaller gardens. Can be grown as an informal hedge. 'Elegans Compacta' is smaller, reaching only 6ft (2m).
  • 'Globosa Nana' is a good compact dwarf form with pendulous mid-green foliage that turns slightly bluish in winter. Height to 3ft (90cm). 
  • 'Spiralis' (granny's ringlets) is a slow growing shrub that has foliage in twisted spirals around the shoots. Height around 6ft (2m).
  • 'Vilmoriniana' is a dense, slow-growing dwarf form, ideal for the rock garden. Height 32in (80cm).