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Plant of the Month: Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’

Evergreens are a value-add to any landscape. They are attractive year-round, resistant to the cold, and many provide wonderful fragrance for homeowners to enjoy. They also tend to grow large and live for a long time (hundreds of years), making them an excellent choice for windscreens, borders, and groupings on large properties.

And if you’re looking for a truly lovely evergreen that only becomes more splendid as it matures, the Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’ (Japanese Cedar) is an excellent choice. They grow in an attractive pyramidal shape with many ornamental features, including eye-catching green needles and mahogany-colored bark. The only problem; you have to choose a favorite cultivar out of dozens of options.

So, what’s our favorite Japanese Cedar? If you want a fast-growing tree with gorgeous green foliage, you can’t do better than the Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino.’ And for smaller properties, we love the Cryptomeria japonica ‘Radicans.’

Cryptomeria ‘Yoshino’

If you’re looking for an upright and fast-growing evergreen tree that forms a perfect pyramid, the Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’ is a great choice.

Plant Type: Japanese Cedar

Zones: 5 - 7

Height: 60 feet

Spread: 30 feet

Colors: bright blue-green foliage

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium

Uses: Exposed sites, screening, windbreak, large ornamental specimen tree

Benefits: low maintenance, cold tolerant, no serious insect or disease problems, great fragrance

02 Cryptomeria japonica Yoshino1This non-flowering, needled evergreen offers bright blue-green foliage that is a little darker than ‘Yoshino’. Unlike many other cultivars of Cryptomeria, the Yoshino retains its gorgeous coloring without interior browning in the winter. And its needles acquire fewer bronze tones in winter. With prized timber and reddish-brown bark, it makes an excellent substitute for the Leyland Cypress.

A slender, pyramidal evergreen conifer, Cryptomeria Yoshino offers tiered horizontal branching. Its needles are sharply pointed, awl-shaped, fragrant, and soft to the touch. And spherical fruiting cones (up to 1-inch in diameter) appear at shoot ends.

In comparison to other Cryptomeria, the Yoshino grows faster and forms a perfectly symmetrical pyramid that matures up to 60 feet tall that is easily trimmed for a smaller plant. And with a spread of 30 feet, it makes the Yoshino an excellent choice for areas in a landscape where windbreak is needed or a large screen border is desired. It can also be used as a large specimen tree for ornamental purposes

Noteworthy Characteristics

Best grown in moist, rich, acidic, and well-drained soil. It prefers full sun, although it can tolerate light shade. To survive a harsh winter, the site location should be protected from drying winter winds, and the soil should not be allowed to dry out. Foliage may bronze in extra cold winters.

With no serious insect or disease problems, the Yoshino makes a hearty choice for an evergreen. It is low maintenance and lives up to 600 years, though it can acquire leaf blight or leaf spot if the soil is not kept fertile and acidic. To keep the Yoshino in tip-top shape, you can prune off any dead or broken branches—otherwise, annual pruning is not required for the health or structure of the tree.

Alternate Cultivar: Cryptomeria ‘Radicans’

And if you need a Japanese Cedar that is more compact and more cold tolerant than the Yoshino, the Cryptomeria japonica ‘Radicans’ is a brilliant option.

03 Cryptomeria japonica Radicans4Plant Type: Japanese Cedar

Zones: 5 – 6 (7)

Height: 30-40 feet

Spread:  15-20 feet

Colors: blue-green foliage year-round

Light: Full sun

Water: Medium

Uses: Exposed sites, screening, windbreak, ornamental specimen tree

Benefits: Very cold tolerant, low maintenance, no serious insect or disease problems

Cryptomeria Radicans has a pyramidal tree-like habit with beautiful blue-green foliage year-round. It is considered to be one of the better Cryptomeria for summer foliage. And as it grows smaller than the Yoshino, the Radicans is ideal for landscapes where space is at a premium, especially as it comes in many compact and dwarf cultivars.

Cryptomeria for Year-Round Evergreen Beauty 

When you need a beautiful tree to act as a windscreen or border, the Cryptomeria japonica is an excellent choice. Both the Yoshino and Radicans cultivars have handsome green needles and gorgeous mahogany bark. And they’ll thrive in almost any landscape as long as the soil is acidic and well-drained. So, if you need a low-maintenance tree ideal for dense screening, you really can’t go wrong with the Japanese Cedar.

If you'd like to find out more about our field operation and growing process at our Maryland wholesale nursery that results in outstanding plant material, download our ebook The Waverly Farm Playbook for Growing Outstanding Landscape Stock Year Over Year.

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