beloved conifers: weeping alaska cedar

weeping-alaska-cedarAS MANY BEGINNERS DO, I CREATED MY GARDEN BACKWARDS: planting herbaceous things first and trees and shrubs later, when their different time to maturity would have made the opposite strategy smarter. Worst of all, I forgot conifers almost entirely in those first years. I’ve stayed put long enough to outgrow my early mishaps, and have some favorite evergreens to share including the weeping Alaska Cedar cedar, Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ (above, in my far borders to the west of the house). The first in a series on beloved conifers.

Two weeping Alaska cedars grow here now, the first a 40th birthday present from my garden mentor; the other (shown) a few years younger. Each one is about 20 feet; though they are said to reach 60 or even 90 feet in the wild (Alaska to Oregon), half that is the expectation in cultivation. A Zone 4-7 or 8 creature, it’s happy here because I have the moisture it craves. It has become somewhat popular (though not commonplace) in the Northeast in recent years.

weeping-alaska-cdear-detailSpeaking of moisture: What distinguishes Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ from other conifers is that it seems to drip.  Despite a vertical trunk, its pendulous branches are made even further fluid-seeming by the way the rich green foliage positively hangs from them (above).

There isn’t a time of year when I don’t love this conifer…well, perhaps just on my mowing days each week in summer, when its shaggy built-in tree skirt requires special treatment to get around and up under. Not much of it to ask, really, for such persistent, year-round grace.

141 comments
January 19, 2009

comments

  1. Fred green says

    Hello, it is late June here in southern NJ.
    I have a weeping Alaskan cedar as my focal point in the front yard. It has been planted for close to 3 years.
    I am noticing some heavy yellowing on the branches this year. Large amounts of yellow needles are in the mulch below the tree. The tips of the branches are a bright green color with new small green berries.
    Any idea why my tree is turning yellow?

    • says

      Hi, Fred. How much of the interior of the branches is browning? Conifers shed their oldest (inner) needles/foliage every one to several years, depending on the variety, but it really is a matter of how much as to whether to fret or not. Here’s what I have written about this before. If the brown is from the tips backward, that’s bad news. Inside out, can be normal — unless it’s extreme.

  2. Brentleigh Church says

    I have just moved an Alaska weeping conifer to another site, it stands about 2 meters tall and is in lovely shape we saved most of the root ball (about a meter across) but lost several long root runners, it is mid winter here in Victoria Australia so there is no immediate stress but is there anything you can suggest I could do to help it, we do love this beautiful tree! I have staked it well and it is well secured in the ground, actually for being there 2-3 weeks it look amazingly well.
    I look forward it hearing from you.
    Kind regards
    Brentleigh

  3. Gerard says

    Hello,
    My weeping Alaskan spruce has turned all brown. I live in North Jersey and did not have a very bad winter but did have very hot July in the upper 90s for two weeks strait. It is also becoming sparse. The tree is 9 years old and I never had this happen before. My local nursery told me it is spider mites and gave me a spray to use. It has been about a week since I sprayed it but no noticeable change. It is my favorite tree and I am worried the tree is going to die.
    What can I do?

  4. Lou says

    My Alaskan weeping cedar is about 12 years old. I live in New Jersey,USA. It is over 20 feet tall and was doing fine until recently. Starting from the top, it seems the branches are turning a rust color mostly on the sunny side of the tree, from the inside out. I have noticed there are brownish sacks at the end of some branches with a slimy green wormlike-shaped thing inside. I have no idea what that may be. I’m not even sure if it is an animal.

  5. Chris says

    I just saw these trees at the Niagara Falls area and fell in love. I live in Iowa and can’t seem to find any to purchase. Any ideas?

    • says

      Hi, Chris. Have you asked the best local nursery (whichever has the best selection of woody plants, I mean) to order it for you? That’s how I often get the best things — by asking that they include one on the next wholesale truck they have coming. Getting one mail order, it will be so small…

  6. yvonne conners says

    Hi! 2 yrs ago we had our yard landscaped, they asked us what we like and went with it. I LOVE my weeping cedars, but they planted 3 about 3-5 feet apart and only 3-10 ft away from the house! i was looking to see if and how to prune them but i see from other sites it shouldn’t be done. are there dwarf weeping cedars?even after the few years should I question their, planting and make them move 2 of them?

    • says

      Hi, Yvonne. I think you need to move them (2 of the three probably). No way they can grow up so closely spaced, and it will be torture to have to cut two down in a few more years. There are other cedars that are tighter configuration but not the basic weeping Alaska.

  7. pam bonovitch says

    Hi Margaret. My Alaska weeping cedar is over 10 yrs old and planted at the front corner of my house. I’m wondering if it can be limbed up and look ok?

    • says

      Oh, Pam, hard to say without seeing. You know, I have seen conifers turned into dramatic big “topiaries” that are awful and some that worked fine. This tree’s charm is its graceful habit and wider-at-the-bottom shape — so I don’t think without its skirt it will be very nice to look at. But I could be wrong.

      • pam bonovitch says

        Thanks Margaret for your input. I really appreciate your prompt reply! I think you are right about the skirt, so no limbing up for my tree!

  8. Terry says

    I have two weeping cedars that appear to have some severe damage from the harsh winter this year in Wisconsin. A lot of brown “burned” limbs. Are the trees likely doomed at this point ? I sprayed them with Wilt-Pruf in the fall as I have the last four years. What could I have done different to protect them ?

    Thanks

  9. Shawn Gabauer says

    I have an Alaskan Weeping Cedar that is about 4 years old. We love this tree. Has been doing well until this spring we noticed it was turning a golden yellow color on the outside. The inside still seems to be ok and nice and green. I was curious if putting a deer repellent spray on would have caused this discoloration or should I worry about our tree dying. If the case is due to the spray, I will change my regimen if the tree would be ok. I would submit a picture of inside and outside if I could. Any help is appreciated.
    Thank You

  10. Michael Dupont says

    I have had my Weeping Alaskan Blue Cedar planted for 3 years now. It’s about 10 – 12 feet tall. Last year, I noted the browning and falling from the inside and was assured by an arborist from the nursery from where I purchased it that this was natural and normal. This year I’m noting the same thing, only more so. As a result, it’s looking more sparse. In addition, this year I’ve noticed many little ‘green balls’ at the tips of branches. Are these the makings of seeds? Could this be where the energy and nutrients are going. Is this a natural process? If not, is there anything I should do. Naturally I want to do anything in my power to save this beauty.

    • margaret says

      Hi, Michael. Those are the green females cones, I suspect (though tiny compared to cones we think of on a pine tree, for instance). It is normal for inner needles to shed, but if the plant is too shaded that can be even more than normal, and result in a too-loose or even sparse effect. Is the plant in a spot where it gets sun?

  11. amy says

    I am getting a 6-7 foot Alaskan weeping cedar! I won it as a raffle prize and am so happy because I have wanted one for so long! I have a question about how far from my foundation should it be? How close can it bevplanted safely? I have a long yard but it is not long from the foundation to the road! Some sites have said 14 feet from the foundation. I think that will put me at the city line. Help!

    • margaret says

      Hi, Amy. Remember that a mature tree will be 15 or more feet wide at the base when full grown…so I’d say at least 10 feet from the foundation, yes.

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