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Golden Threadleaf Cypress: Things to know before buying to ensure success in the landscape

Updated on January 3, 2015

Golden threadleaf cypress, commonly referred to as gold mop cypress, has become one of the most popular shrubs in today's landscape. However, due to multiple reasons, golden threadleaf cypress can be a disaster waiting to happen unless given proper care. This article will look at the preferences, growth habits, and care of golden threadleaf cypress.

There are multiple cultivars of golden threadleaf cypress, with size varying from three feet wide and high to over ten feet wide or fifteen feet high at maturity. Further complicating the problem is the different varieties of golden threadleaf cypress look very similar when young, and it is not uncommon for labels to get confused or mixed up.

Through proper planning, a disaster can be averted. To minimize chances of getting an unknown variety, read the tag and look for the name of the cultivar. If the tag has generic language such as simply "golden threadleaf cypress" or "Chamaecyparis pisifera" with no specific named variety, you are looking at a generic bush and it could be any variety. Look for tags that give a specific name, such as "gold mop" or "king's gold," and look at what the tag says for growth habit. Know what varieties to buy and what ones to avoid. If you want a small shrub, and the tag says king's gold, with five feet as the height, avoid it as king's gold can grow over ten feet.

Next, select a spot that gives margin for error. For example, plant something lower under a window and plant the cypress between the windows. If the cypress does grow to ten feet, at least you will still be able to look out the window. Plant perennials directly next to the cypress on either side, rather than shrubs. When the cypress gets larger, the perennials can be moved out. If you have a shrub, it will be more permanent and will either be smothered by the cypress, or work with the cypress on turning the foundation planting into a jungle.

Lastly, keep on top of pruning. Threadleaf cypress does not like being pruned hard and will not grow new buds on old wood, so pruning needs to be regular and consistent. Branches that shoot upwards ahead of the crown can be cut back at any time, to slow down the bush from expanding. The entire bush can be pruned back in fall, but make sure to always leave new growth and good foliage on the tree. Pruning will have to concede growth to the bush over time, lest it become knobby. However, proper pruning will slow down the growth of the threadleaf cypress, allowing it to contribute to the landscape for many years.

Golden threadleaf cypress is a valuable asset to the landscape. So between caution while purchasing, leaving room for error, and proper pruning, your golden threadleaf cypress will perform as a part of the landscape for many years.


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