Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Spiralis' / spiral Hinoki cypress

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Spiralis' is a very slow growing, narrow, irregular upright growing selection of Hinoki cypress with distinctive and desirable twisted branches holding shell-like, dark-green sprays of foliage. After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 2.5 feet (80 cm) tall and 1 foot (30 cm) wide, an annual growth rate of 2 to 3 inches (5 - 7.5 cm).

This cultivar originated as a seedling introduced in 1930 by W. H. Rogers & Sons Nursery, Chandler Ford, United Kingdom. It was one of many distinctive dwarf Hinoki seedlings selected in the early 1900s by George Gardiner, who at the time, was nursery manager at Rogers & Sons.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Spiralis' — a perfect specimen at the Jean Iseli Memorial Garden, Boring, Oregon. Spectacular probably due to a single-leader plant.
Photo by Iseli Nursery, Inc.
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Spiralis' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Sandra McLean Cutler
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Spiralis' in the Gotelli Collection at the U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C., May 2006.
Photo by Dax Herbst



Hey there,

Wanted to see if y’all had more information on the obtusa spiralis hinoki, it’s difficult to find information on this plant. Would you have a more detailed care description and info on how to prune or trim to keep that beautiful twisting shape? I’ve got some sprigs that I’m not sure if I should let them be or snip them. Any help is appreciated, thanks!

Maxwell Cohn

Hi Mary ... those long whips of foliage are quite common to Hinokis. This is how these plants increase in height and breadth. If you snip them off, the plant will respond by tightening up the secondary foliage, becoming more dense in texture. If you let them go, the plant will become looser and less attractive in my opinion.


Thank you David! I agree I love the density of ours right now and want to make sure it doesn’t get too leggy. Is there a certain season/time to snip them? Or any specific way I’d have to snip at the nodes? Never worked with them before so wasn’t sure how finicky they are

Maxwell Cohn

I preferably do this kind of work during daylight hours. Time of year doesn't seem to matter as plants in the Cupressaceae family grow throughout the growing season as opposed to a single main push as in Pinaceae. This also makes the plants very forgiving of such treatment.

Good luck!

Mary Yancey

Hey there, I'm back and in need of some desperate help/advice, my poor plants are struggling with a couple of issues:

1. One of the plants has branches that had been dying off and I initially just snipped them, but now it's browning/dying towards the bottom and in those bald spots at an alarming rate and I don't know why. Not just normal thinning, it turns gray and is not just towards the trunk. Some background on how I've been caring for it, thought it was minimal care but apparently not:

- I have not repotted it from its 3 gallon pot and it's pretty rootbound
- Fertilized with regular run of the mill fertilizer throughout this growing season
- I do rotate it every few months, watered regularly - it has been very rainy here so it has
stayed fairly damp

ANY resources or advice would help, websites, all of it is appreciated, want to save it.

2. The new growth on the tops seems to be very leggy and wily rather than dense. They're not getting full sun, maybe 3-4 hours, but guess that's not enough? How do I remedy this before the next growing cycle to make sure the new growth isn't as leggy or growing on weak spots?

If anyone wants to email me directly I'm happy to send pictures if that helps. Thanks!
[email protected]

Maxwell Cohn

Mary, that "graying" and "legginess" you describes sounds a lot like too much shade, too much water and poorly drained soil has unleashed one of the myriad fungal problems that plaque unhappy Hinokis.

If it's your intent to keep your plants in pots forever, you're going to need to up-pot in well draining medium every 1 to 2 years. Do not ever use Miracle-gro products. That product is not for conifers.