Plant Profile: Cryptomeria japonica

I realize that I have already posted about Cryptomeria japonica, but I wanted to do a quickie Plant Profile card for it because hey, I find them fun.

I recommend the use of these trees a good bit to homeowners, especially those wanting some quick screening and coverage in smaller subdivision lots. These folks are often only aware of that miserable, horrible, bane of my existence: Leyland Cypress. I hate those stupid, shallow-rooted monsters, especially for screening in tight quarters. Leyland Cypress are fast growing, I cannot deny that. However, their mature size is a good 50-60′ tall by 30′ wide. Planting that on your property line in a 55 foot wide lot just isn’t very neighborly.

Cryptomeria japonica, on the other hand, are a great choice for screening. The one in my back yard put on a good 18-24″ a year in height. They’re also not monsters, meaning they typically top out in the 30-ish foot range and will stay pretty tight (12-15 feet wide). Here are the varieties I’ve used:

  • Yoshino- this is the workhorse cryptomeria, with the 12-15′ width and 30-40′ height
  • Radicans- VERY similar to Yoshino, except that it is supposed to maintain its green color better in winter than Yoshino, which bronzes up a bit
  • Black Dragon- this is the sexy one. Looking for a cool looking evergreen for a small space? When I first specified one I did a bunch of online research and quickly came to the conclusion that these grow so slowly, no one knows just how big they’ll get. I ran across estimates of 8 to 12 feet tall, maintaining a very narrow and columnar shape. Love it!

Check one of these great trees out for yourself, and if you have a need for a tall, narrow evergreen- this could be your tree.

Dave Marciniak is a landscape designer and speaker. He lives in Culpeper, Virginia and can be found via his website and on Twitter.

2 comments

  1. MG Cross says:

    We had 10 14′ cryptomeria japonica trees, planted 2 years ago. They have had rapid growth up (approx 24″ in 2 years) and out, but are very, very sparse in the interior. They are straggly and look awful. Help!

    • David Marciniak says:

      Hi MG, that sort of problem can be caused by a few different problems, several of which will depend on where you’re located. Given the investment you made in large trees, I’d suggest you contact a local arborist to consult.

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