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Growing Gold in the Winter Landscape

I’ve made it clear in this blog that Winter is my least favorite season. Therefore, I always seek winter-blooming flowers to raise my spirits. However, before the yellow-flowered daffodils bloom to give me hope that Spring is coming, I rely on the soft-textured drooping gold threadlike leaves of golden threadleaf sawara cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’).

Golden threadleaf sawara cypress draws attention in the winter landscape.

Golden threadleaf sawara cypress draws attention in the winter landscape.
Bob Polomski, ©2022, Clemson University

A close-up of some plants Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Like the golden locks of Rapunzel’s long hair, the golden threadleaf sawara cypress draws attention in the winter landscape. This plant can reach a height of 18 to 20 ft. and maintain its attractive broad, conical shape. If you prefer smaller versions, consider ‘Golden Mop’ and ‘Filifera Aurea Nana’, ‘Lemon Yellow, ‘Paul’s Gold,’ and ‘King’s Gold’, which boast equally gorgeous foliage but in smaller packages.

If you prefer smaller versions, consider ‘King’s Gold’, which reaches just 3 to 5 feet high and wide. Bob Polomski, ©2022, Clemson University

If you prefer smaller versions, consider ‘King’s Gold’, which reaches just 3 to 5 feet high and wide.Bob Polomski, ©2022, Clemson University

To maintain its golden color, site golden threadleaf sawara cypress in full sun. It is not finicky about soil: expect performances in heavy clay, sandy, and moist loamy soils. Avoid “hog wallows” or poorly drained spots in your landscape. When it receives too much shade, the golden color recedes and gives rise to green. Use it as a stand-alone focal point or accent in the landscape. It partners well with other shrubs or small trees and punctuates evergreen screens with pops of gold.

Some garden design critics consider golden threadleaf sawara cypress to be gaudy or visually offensive. I disagree. It has a brilliant, year-round eye-catching look. For me, happiness resides in the tightly woven gold threads of golden threadleaf sawara cypress.

For more information on plants for winter interest, see Winter Interest In the Landscape; Select Trees and Shrubs for Winter Interest; and HGIC 1092, Four Fragrant, Winter-Blooming Woodland Shrubs.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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