COMMON NAMES: Japanese cedar
BOTANICAL NAME: Cryptomeria japonica, Family: Cupressacaeae or Taxodiaceae (Cypress family)
CHARACTERISTICS: Tall, moderate growing evergreen, pyramidal or cone-shaped with bluish-green foliage and a massive trunk with thick reddish brown bark that shreds and peels in long strips. Typically one straight trunk, finer branches droop.
SIZE: height 50 to 60’, spread 25 to 30', final spacing 25 to 30 feet. Can grow to more than 180 ft. in its native habitat. Needs full sun or light shade; rich deep, well-drained soil but will thrive in a range of soils.
BARK: Reddish brown to gray, fibrous and peeling in long shreds.
FOLIAGE: Fine awl-shaped, bright to blue-green foliage; smooth and soft to the touch; bronze tones in winter, especially if exposed to wind. Branches arranged in horizontal tiers, ascending at first, drooping near their ends. Flattened, wedge-shaped leaves are about 1/2-3/4 inch spirally arranged.
FLOWERS AND FRUIT: Monoecious, small terminal cones on the tips of new growth. Seeds are brown and triangular. Female flowers are round, light green with loose scales. Males are light brown showing from the leaf axils near branch tips. Fruit a 1” round cone with short pointed scales, with a spiny appearance and is reddish brown in color.
HABITAT: Native to Asia, grown in Japan as a landscape and lumber tree. It will grow in most of the U.S. There are several named cultivars. Zones 5 - 9.
MANAGEMENT: Easy to grow in moist well-drained soils given ample water. Besides being planted in the ground as a landscape tree, it can also be used as a container plant and works well as a bonsai plant.
POSSIBLE PROBLEMS: This beautiful tree has very few pest problems and none that seem to be serious. Propagation: Cuttings are also used. Can be difficult to grow from seed. Young, well-rooted cuttings transplant easily. Grows best in full sun to partial shade. Layering can be done in pots or in the ground. Young, well-rooted cuttings transplant easily. Needs well-drained soil but plenty of water for best growth. Don’t allow the soil to dry out and mist if the humidity is low.
NOTES: For the most part easy to grow and should be used more often; good screening tree; low growing cultivars available.