Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Surprise’ is a dense, upright, narrowly conical selection of Lawson cypress with striking, steel-blue juvenile foliage on reddish stems that assumes more of a purple cast in winter in colder climates. After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 6 feet (2 m) tall and 2 feet (60 cm) wide, an annual rate of growth of 6 to 8 inches (15 – 20 cm).
It must be emphasized that this cultivar is highly prone to Phytophthera lateralis, a water-borne fungal disease of the roots. If grown on its own roots, it absolutely must be sited in drier sites in freely draining soil. Otherwise the grower is highly advised to seek out specimens grafted onto disease-resistant (DR) understock that is becoming more prevalent in the nursery trade.
This cultivar originated as a seedling selected by Anthony P. J. de Beer, Tilburg, The Netherlands, and introduced to the nursery trade in 1976. ‘Blue Surprise’ is one of two plants selected in 2017 for inclusion in the ACS Collectors’ Conifer of the Year Program.