Bonsai Cypress Trees: the perfect garden ornament!

bonsai cypress

Sawara Cypress

Bonsai Cypress trees are amazing in the garden. They stand proud in any collection and can add that wow factor you’ve been looking for.

So, have you have been toying with the idea of investing your time in a Bonsai Cypress?

Hopefully the answer is yes…….. If not, trust us, The Cypress is easy to care for, and there are a few to choose from for varying climates!

To keep things simple and to help you decide on a Cypress, we will only discuss the most suited and easier species………

Lets have a look!

Bonsai Cypress Varieties

Lawson Cypress (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

The Lawson Cypress is probably the most popular species used by Bonsai artists.

Japanese Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtuse)

This Japanese Cypress is easy to obtain in garden centres and is very suited to Bonsai.

Japanese Sawara Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera)

Like the Hinoki, Sawaras are easy to obtain and are well suited to Bonsai.

Now, although we’ve established that there are 3 possible species for you to work with, we would suggest the two Japanese species. Both are easy to maintain, look fantastic and are very hardy.

Before we look at care, have you read our Bonsai care guide?

Now onto Cypress care!


Hinokis are well suited to dryer climates. They are reasonably drought tolerant and demand less water than other Cypresses. However, like all Bonsai, try not to let your tree dry out. Ensure the soil remains damp and water in the evening or morning.

Hinokis generally remain disease and pest free, and perform well in cold, Winter conditions, especially in places such as colder parts of the US and UK.

In the growing season (Spring), you may see reddening of the foliage around the top of your foliage crowns. Do not be alarmed, this is quite common if sun exposure is high.

TIP- After Winter passes, do not expose your Cypress to full sun suddenly. Wean the tree off shade! Too much sun at once can kill your tree!

In regards to shaping, the Hinoki is best suited to a formal upright or multiple trunk style. Also, it must be noted that the top section of the Hinoki is very strong and can become quite heavy, which requires careful attention to pruning before the growing season.

Early in the growing season, pinch new growth along the tree branches. Remember, keep this balanced and consistent, working from the bottom to the top.

TIP - Hinokis become quite dense when left unattended and it will become hard to see the bark. Cypresses have amazing trunks and bark so you want to ensure you prune (pinch) away growth so as to enable the viewer to see each individual branch and the trunk all the way to the top!

In regards to repotting, this should be done around the end of Winter/beginning of Autumn. When you repot your Hinoki, remove excess roots, but no more than 20%. Swiftly transfer the tree into it’s new home and shade it for around 6 weeks. Repots do not have to happen often, probably aim for every 3 years if the tree is established, yearly if the tree is young.

Wire the tree at the end of winter/beginning of Autumn. If possible wire the tree when it is younger, as Cypress branches can become quite tough and hard to train. You will often find you will need a varied thickness of wire on different branches, as branches near the base are thicker than the top.

TIP - Avoid wire marks!


Sawara bonsai Cypresses naturally live in damp areas and require much more water than Hinokis. Do not allow the soil to dry out and ensure a stringent watering regime.

Sawaras are harder to work with than Hinokis and require vigilance in ensuring pests and disease do not take hold.

The care conditions are much the same as the Hinoki, except in winter, Sawaras require greenhouse protection. They do not fair well on benxhes throughout winter and can die fairly easily.

In regards to pruning, you must ensure light can penetrate through the foliage density. If any parts of the foliage cannot access light, they will die. Pinch back new growth (back to 1/3 of each tip length) and encourage the branches to assume horizontal fan-like structures, allowing light to reach all foliage.

Leave Bonsai Cypress Trees and head back to the Bonsai Trees Guide!