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Hinoki cypress bonsai

Are you looking for a bonsai that looks stunning with age and require minimal maintenance? Hinoki cypress bonsai might be precisely what you’re searching for! 

As it grows it creates cloud-like foliage pads with a straight trunk that creates a dramatic appearance no matter where you place them. Besides their hardy personality, they can adapt to multiple styles like cascade, classic upright, leaning, and bunjin to name a few. 

They are native to Japan and don’t belong to the Cupressus genus, for that reason they are also known as false cypress bonsai. 

In order to unleash its healthiest form, we will go through all its requirements and process, so you can go ahead and apply it on your Hinoki cypress.

Hinoki Cypress Bonsai Quick Facts

Scientific NameChamaecyparis obtusa
Native toSouthern and central parts of Japan
Lifespan100 years or more
Height50-75 feet tall
Width10-20 feet wide
LeavesDeep green scale-like leaves with bluish-white making beneath.
FruitsSmall eight-scaled orange-brown cones.
FlowersLight purple, brown spherical-shaped flower
BarkReddish brown, the color deepens with age.
CultivationBonsai purposes
UseMainly for bonsai practice, but hinoki essential oil is popular as a stress and anxiety reliever. 

Hinoki Cypress Bonsai Care Guide

For the Hinoki cypress bonsai tree to thrive, it needs plenty of water and sunlight. Although they are hardy in nature, they are outdoor bonsai and desire the treatment outdoor plants get. 

By fulfilling its requirements, not only it will thrive but also can produce fruits. Now, Let’s go over each requirement in detail.

Hinoki Cypress Bonsai Watering

To support the bonsai to stay in an optimal healthy condition, provide water regularly in the growing season (spring to fall). You can let the soil dry out slightly between watering, but in any case, you can not let the root ball dry out completely. 

During its early stage of growth, it demands a ton of water, but at the same time, if the soil stays soggy near the roots for too long, it will face waterlogging. So, quick-draining soil is a way to fulfill the need. 

As an all-around guideline, study the water twice per day in the soil during the growing season. The majority require water once or twice a day, proly depending on how much time it takes to dry. In winter you need to check the soil once a day and water requirements are usually once every 4 days. 

If the humidity is low and dry in your area, mist the foliage occasionally, but do it in the morning. Water droplets hanging from the needles can act like a magnifying glass and direct mid-day sun will spot-burn the tree. 

Hinoki Cypress Bonsai Temperature Tolerance

False cypress bonsai can move a lot of water and because of that, it can tolerate heat. But, when it’s very hot, the Hinoki cypress will need more shade. And by that, I’m indicating a temperature of 95°F or higher. In that case, it should have sunlight during the morning and shade during the afternoon, a 50:50 ratio. 

If your tree is quite big and placed in a big pot with soil, it will tolerate cold temperatures as low as 20-25°F. But for smaller trees, it will be too much for them to handle, and you might notice some parts of the tree struggling or dying in these colder temperatures. 

Right Placement for Hinoki Cypress Bonsai

Hinoki cypress can flourish by receiving full sun all over the year. But, during the hottest months, you have to provide shades. You can easily achieve it by providing some shade cloth that filters 50% of the sunlight or by locating them in an area that naturally receives shade in the afternoon.

To protect them from harsh winter months you can use two methods. One, use mulch to cover the trunk up to the base. It acts as a shield. This is particularly helpful when the nighttime temperatures are freezing. Secondly, place it in an unheated shed or garage. This will protect the tree while helping it to enter its dormant state. 

Repotting Hinoki Cypress Bonsai

To determine what pot goes with what tree depending on the root system of the tree itself. When you are cultivating the tree for bonsai, be it the root or the upper surface, all sizes will be controlled by you. So, take a pot that will make a good display, but don’t choose one that will choke the whole root system.

  • If your plant is currently in a plastic pot, press the sides of the pot to lose the soil and take the tree out. If it’s in a sturdy pot, hold it in sideways from the base, wiggle the tree, and take it out. If that doesn’t work, soak the soil with water for about thirty minutes and take it out. 
  • Begin by raking out the soil with a root rake from the roots. Untangle the roots, if any. Now they are ready to prune. Remove unruly roots and the roots that have extra growth. 
  • In the chosen pot, use a layer of water-draining gravel, and a layer of bonsai potting mix, and plant the tree. Cover the roots with more soil, but make sure the majority of the trunk is above the soil surface,
  • After re-potting, water the plant thoroughly.
  • Mature trees can be re-potted again after 4-5 years. 

Best Soil for Hinoki Cypress Bonsai

Hinoki cypress likes soil that is moist and not too acidic. The superior pH level is more on the acidic side (5.0-6.0). The soil must have to be quick-draining, so it won’t get waterlogged around the roots and lead to root rot.  

Add a layer of mulch near the base of the tree. About 2 to 4 inches of mulch will be enough. This mulch helps the soil retain moisture and keeps it cool.

How to Guides for Hinoki Cypress Bonsai

Now we will talk about, how to keep the hinoki cypress bonsai tree in a specific height and shape by pruning and wiring, how to feed them, and to grow one all by yourself. 

How to Prune Hinoki Cypress Bonsai

  • Pruning this particular tree can be done in three ways- by a sharp tool, by pinching, and by a combination of both. Each technique possesses unique aesthetics. 
  • Pruning with shears or some cutting tool will create a more delicate and lifelike look. Pinching the new growths with hands will give a more dramatic palm-palm-like effect. Combination well as the name suggested will make a great middle ground with its ravishing look with a naturalistic touch.  
  • Secondary branches can be pruned from early spring to late summer and pinching the new buds can be done throughout the whole growing season. 
  • If the tree is left without pruning for a long term, the underneath branches will not receive enough sunlight and will eventually die. 
  • Only focus on the new growth, as old growth will not recover from pruning.
  • When you are pruning your hinoki cypress during late spring or early summer, it’s necessary to give the tree a shady area to heal. It helps to avoid exposing the inner foliage to harsh sunlight. 

How to Wire a Hinoki Cypress Bonsai

Hinoki bonsai can be wired in the early spring before it starts growing new leaves. During this time you can do particular changes to the shape and reduce the amount of foliage, as new growth will heal the wounds faster. 

Better stick to your refinement wiring, if you want to do it in the middle of the spring or summer. Major shaping and styling during the hotter months can be risky. It may lead to branch damage and increase the chances of branches dying off.

To wire Hinoki bonsai;

  • Start by forming a mental picture of the shape that you want the finished results to be. 
  • Choose the branches you will wire and start wrapping in an upward motion with 45 degrees angle to create perfect spacing between each round. 
  • Once you are done winding, cut the wire and start bending the branches carefully. Work here and there until you are satisfied with the shape. 
  • Now, leave it as it is. But, don’t keep the wire for more than four months. Hinoki is a rapidly growing tree and wires can be an obstacle to their growth and can create nasty wounds if the wires stay for long. 

How to Fertilize Hinoki Cypress Bonsai

The Hinoki cypress bonsai tree doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer. They are delicate and it’s important to keep their natural tendencies instead of overfeeding them. But, as your Hinoki Cypress bonsai is planted in a small pot instead of the ground it requires some nutrients. 

During its refinement stage, it’s best to use the littlest amount of fertilizer. It can be elevated to a moderate level upon the arrival of the growing months. 

From spring to the beginning of summer dormancy, you can feed them moderately. In the hottest months of summer, there’s no need to fertilize. 

Using a slow-release fertilizer, especially in pellet form, is ideal for this situation. You can add a little amount of this fertilizer every 1-2 months during the growing season.

How to Grow a Hinoki Cypress Bonsai

Cultivation of the Hinoki cypress bonsai tree can be done from seeds and cuttings. But most Hinokis are cultivars, which means that growing them from seeds won’t result in a tree that looks exactly like its parent. To ensure the tree possesses the same characteristics as the mother plant, cuttings are preferred for propagation. 

How to Grow Hinoki Cypress Bonsai from Seed

Even though they are outdoor bonsai gardeners prefer to start indoors using seeds and peat pots filled with potting mix when propagating from seeds. 

  • Before planting, keep the seeds moist for at least 24 hours. 
  • Take sandpaper and lightly scar the skin of the seeds.
  • After that, add a layer of potting mix and place the seed 1/4-inch deep. Add another layer of potting mix. 
  • Keep the soil warm and moist.
  • The seeds will sprout in about a couple of weeks.
  • Transplant the newly germinated plants into their new individual pots. 

How to Grow Hinoki Cypress Bonsai from cuttings

  • Take four-inch long cuttings from the mother plant. Use a sharp knife in order to avoid scratch wounds. 
  • Trim out the foliage from the bottom half of the cutting and dip the cuttings into the rooting hormone.
  • Prepare soil that is moist, quick-draining, and rich. Plant the cuttings into the soil. 
  • The soil needs to retain moisture and to do that, cover the pot with plastic, and use sticks to create a tent so the cuttings won’t touch the plastic.
  • Keep the pot near a window where it will stay warm without direct sunlight.
  • If you tug the cuttings lightly and it doesn’t move, sign that the roots started forming. The cuttings are now ready to take direct sunlight without the plastic bag. Give it one or two weeks and plant them individually. 

Common Hinoki Cypress Bonsai Problems and Solutions / Diseases & Pests

Cytospora Canker

Cytospora canker is a fungal disease that affects Hinoki cypress trees, especially those that are stressed or weakened. The fungal pathogens enter the barks and create a cranker. They damage the tissue above them and that leads them to die. 

The primary symptoms are yellow spots on twigs and barks in the hollow spots. The tissue near the spots is usually swollen. They release spores in humidity or wet weather. 


To prevent Cytospora canker, it’s important to water the tree regularly, use fertilizer, and practice proper pruning techniques. If the disease already occurs, infected branches should be removed, and any wounds should be washed to minimize the spread of the infection.

Juniper tip blight

Juniper tip blight is a fungal disease that is mainly caused by fungi such as Phomopsis juniperovora, Sclerophoma pythiophila, or Kabatina juniperi. The disease mainly affects Hinoki cypress in their young stage. 

The early symptom of the disease is the dieback of needle tips on the lower branches. The fruiting body of the fungus creates black spots on the dead leaves and produces spores during the rainy season.  If it is left untreated, the infection can kill the whole bonsai. 


To control juniper tip blight, the first set would be to isolate the infected tree and prune out the infected parts. Air circulation around the tree will help to control the diseases. 

Scale insects

Hinoki cypress bonsai trees are most vulnerable to scale insects. Scales come in various shapes and almost all types are susceptible in the bonsai. These crafty creatures can move around from plant to plant through wind and can carry other insects with them like ants.


If you are able to detect them early, you can scrape them off from the trunk with a knife or pick them up one by one with a tweezer. After that, you can spray some prophylactic oil.

Hinoki Cypress Bonsai

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