The Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ (Fernspray False Cypress) Full Care Guide

The Fernspray False Cypress, otherwise known as the Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ or Sawara Cypress ‘Curly Tops’, Japanese Cypress ‘Curly Tops’, is a rather well known shrub plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

Fortunately, taking care of your Fernspray False Cypress is not too difficult – as long as you follow our guidelines in this Fernspray False Cypress Care Guide. Now let’s get started.

The fundamental caring guidelines for every Fernspray False Cypress can be summed up into the following:

  • Water: The Fernspray False Cypress prefers constant watering each week and more during the hot season.
  • Light: Keep your Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ in an environment where it can receive full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Fernspray False Cypress in soil with moist but well-draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

That’s it – sunlight, water and soil! The basic 3 fundamentals for all plant care, and with the Fernspray False Cypress this is no exception. With these three elements, your leafy friend will live healthy and happy.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Filicoides' care

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Fernspray False Cypress belongs to the Cupressaceae family, the genus Chamaecyparis and the species Pisifera, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ (kam-e-SIP-a-ris ob-tu-SA).

The Cupressaceae family also includes other plants like Western Red Cedar ‘Fluffy’, Japanese Cypress ‘Filifera Aurea’, Chamaecyparis ‘Nana Gracilis’, Grey Owl Juniper, ‘Fernspray Gold’ Hinoki Cypress, Juniperus Sabina ‘Monard’, Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium, Juniperus Sabina, Japanese Garden Juniper ‘Nana’, White Cedar ‘Danica’, Cupressus Sempervirens, Juniperus Chinensis ‘Hetzii Glauca’, Blue Chip Juniper, Juniperus Horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’, Chamaecyparis Pisifera ‘Golden Mop’ and Juniperus Squamata ‘Blue Star’.

As with other Chamaecyparis’s, the Fernspray False Cypress is an evergreen plant, which means it will be present year round in your garden.

Growing Region

The Fernspray False Cypress is a plant native to the Japan.

Knowing your plant’s native region is very useful, as it can give you tips on which environment is best for your Fernspray False Cypress. If you keep it in mind, you can try to replicate these conditions at home, and you’ll likely end with a healthier plant.

With this in mind, the Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ will be most used to the heat zones in the 1 – 8 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a and the ideal climate zone is between 2, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17, A3.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Fernspray False Cypress is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But, what size of Fernspray False Cypress are we talking about? What can you expect in terms of height, spread and spacing? Let’s dig in…

The Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ can grow up to 1′ – 5′ (30cm – 150cm) in 1′ – 5′ (30cm – 150cm) and 1′ – 5′ (30cm – 150cm) in 1′ – 5′ (30cm – 150cm). 

These dimensions make the Fernspray False Cypress a relatively large shrub compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful pyramidal shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 48″ – 60″ (120cm – 150cm) free so the Fernspray False Cypress can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Fernspray False Cypress is a fairly simple plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ prefers constant watering each week and more during the hot season.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Filicoides' leaves


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Fernspray False Cypress in soil with moist but well-draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Fernspray False Cypress then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Fernspray False Cypress needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Fernspray False Cypress prefers to have soil with good drainage properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably neutral to acid soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Fernspray False Cypress requires full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ in full and direct sun (more than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being an evergreen plant, the Fernspray False Cypress will be present year round in your garden.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


The leaves from the Fernspray False Cypress have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Filicoides' branch

Attracts, Tolerance and Resistance

The Fernspray False Cypress is well known for its tolerance to drought conditions, so don’t worry if any of these come along, your Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ will be fine.


How should you then organize your garden to include your new Fernspray False Cypress? Here are some recommendations by expert gardeners.

Most Chamaecyparis Obtusa ‘Filicoides’ owners agree that this shrub will look great in most asian/zen and contemporary gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of gravel and rock garden, prairie and meadow, city and courtyard, informal and cottage, and in traditional garden styles. 

In particular, the Fernspray False Cypress’s best location within your garden is in hedges and screens, others use it for landscaping in a hedge, border, specimen, container, privacy screen, or a woodland garden.

Companion Plants

Fernspray False Cypress’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Camellia, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Azalea will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


Even though we covered a lot of care information for your Fernspray False Cypress, remember the basics: sunlight, soil and water, as these should be enough to grow a healthy plant at home.

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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