Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold' / Golden Fernspray Hinoki cypress

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold' is a medium-sized, upright growing selection of Hinoki cypress with a dense pyramidal growth habit and beautifully twisted golden, fern-like, flattened branches. It is similar to C. obtusa 'Tetragona Aurea' but has less orange and more lemon coloration. It also holds its branches more horizontal than 'Tetragona Aurea,' takes well to pruning, and grows much slower. After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 6 feet (2 m) tall and half as wide, an annual rate growth rate of 6 - 8 inches (15 - 20 cm). This selection always adds colorful interest and excitement in the landscape.

This cultivar was introduced to the nursery trade in 1970 by Duncan and Davies Nursery, New Plymouth, New Zealand. Its precise origin is speculative at best, resembling plants raised by Barry Blackman listed as 'Kojolcohiba' in the Duncan and Davies catalogs. In actuality, it is intermediate between 'Kojolcohiba' and 'Tetragona Aurea.'

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold' at the Jean Iseli Memoral Garden, Boring, Oregon.
Photo by Iseli Nursery, Inc.
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold' — a mature specimen photographed in 2004 at Blue Sterling Nursery, Bridgeton, New Jersey. Approximate height 10 feet.
Photo by Bill Barger
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Fernspray Gold' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger


Ann Diller

Can you get a start from a fernspray gold from a branch with root hormone on it?

A Ochla

Is it deer resistant?????

Maxwell Cohn

If you mean, "is it toxic to deer," the answer is no. While Hinokis aren't a deer's favorite thing to eat, if they're hungry enough, they're going to eat it.

Maria Price

I have two in my front yard.
Love them...
I've noticed several of the limbs are turning brown....
Is it dying....
This is my 2nd year.....
It gets shade in the mornings... then sun... then shade again....
Thank you

Maxwell Cohn

Hi Maria ... based on your words, it definitely sounds like those branches are dying.

► Have they gotten enough water? Hinokis aren't drought-resistant until they've been in the ground for 3-5 years.
► where part of the Earth are you trying to grow them? This species is native to Japan and prefers the climate there.
► in the ground or in pots?
► is the root flare buried?
► has there been synthetic chemical, road salt, or dog urine exposure?

Karin Gehrke

I just purchased two of these. One is 3-1/2" and the other is 7" tall from the soil. They are in pots 2-1/2" square/4" tall. I am in Wisconsin zone 5. I assume these are too small to go into the ground. How do I "baby" these until they can go in the ground? Do I need to put in larger pots? Can I keep them in the house? Please advise all I need to know to be successful in raising these for outside. I do have a metal washtub that faces North. Would that work? I am clueless!! Thanks a bunch.

Maxwell Cohn

yes, probably too small to plant out right now.

I would immediately up-pot them into gallon-sized pots. Use well drained, appropriate potting medium for woody plants (MiracleGro soil will quickly kill them). No fertilizer until spring.

Do not overwinter indoors!!! Conifers need a cooling period. In cold climates such as yours, an unheated garage would work best. Make sure to periodically toss them an ice cube to keep the potting medium somewhat damp.

I you want to use a metal washtub, make sure that it drains, put the pots in the tub, then pack with leaves. Make sure it isn't exposed to icy winds.

Bruce Terry

Will these grow in North Florida? (zone 9) If not, is there a similar plant that could substitute?

Maxwell Cohn

you have decent odds (~62%, maybe better). Best chance of success will be no more than a few hours of morning sun, no afternoon sun ever, and lots of water when it's hot and dry.

Elizabeth McCann

Mine is 3 years old and is doing well. The tree is loaded with these brown balls. Would you please tell me what these balls are. Thanks.

Maxwell Cohn

could be seed cones ... could be bagworms ... could be gall. Based on words only, it could be one of those.

Tony Balquin

Hello David, I just bought and planed 3 of these in my yard and was wondering if they can be trained to be more shrub like than upright. I was thinking of weighting some of branches once it gets larger. In your experience do you think it would work? BTW I love the asymmetrical growth pattern of these trees. Thanks so much!


Good question. I have 3. Wondering the same thing - can I train as shrubs?


Hi, We have a row of small shrubs/trees that had a tag called shrub hinoki cypress crippsii Chamaecyparis obtusa and we are are looking for one or two more to fill in where a couple died. I see you show a gold fernspray cypress that looks very much like the ones we have. Are they the same? If not, do you offer what we need? Thank you.

Dan and Bonita Spear

Gary, They are not the same. ‘Crippsii’ is the cultivar you have. It is quite common at garden centers and nurseries. ‘Fernspray Gold’ is a different cultivar of Hinoki cypress.

Be sure to remove/exchange the soil when planting your new ‘Crippsii’. The new plants will not be vigorous in the old soil. Avoid garden center planting mixes when planting in the ground.

Michael Summers

Crippsii is larger growing Fernspray, also the foliage is a little bit of different texture and tighter together. What size is the crippsii you have now?


Hi Michael,
Thank you very much for your reply. The crippsii we have now is about 3 feet and kept trimmed very tight and rounded at the top. If you know of anyone that may have these I would appreciate the contact. Thanks again!


Hi Daniel,
Thank you for this information. If you know anyone with crippssi around 3 feet or so please share the contact. Thanks!

George Sands

I have a Chamaecyparis Tetragona Aurea it is supposed to grow only 5-6FT. It is turning Brown. Should I plant it in shade or full sun? And is there anything I should spray on it or treat it somehow. it is in Full Sun right in the ground.