Saturday, September 25, 2010

Substitute Dwarf Cryptomeria for Yews and Japanese Holly

For better garden performance and different textural look around a home foundation, plant the dwarf shrub forms of Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica). Dwarf cryptomeria is an excellent substitute for Japanese yews (Taxus spp.) or 'Helleri' hollies (Ilex crenata) which often struggle in heavy clay soils, particularly those poorly drained.

'Globosa Nana' (photo) has a "cookie-cutter" round, globular form, and rarely needs pruning. 'Globosa Nana' has bright green floiage and grows 3-6 feet tall and wide. The cultivar 'Black Dragon' has dark green foliage and a pyramidal growth habit (8-12 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide). Both are planted as single specimens or grouped several together They are slower growing than their taller 40-50 feet columnar counterparts.

Cryptomerias prefer well-drained, slightly acidic soil and are planted in an open sunny location. Young shrubs are remarkably shade tolerant. Their dark evergreen foliage turns a bronze to purple color during the coldest part of winter. By early spring the bright or dark green color returns to their short needles. Fertilize shrubs annually either in February or March.

Garden centers sell either balled and burlapped (b&b) or container-grown stock. Cryptomeria is best planted from February thru October. This evergreen demonstrates superior heat and drought tolerances once established in the landscape for two years.

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