Weeping Nootka cypress


When I purchased these trees I was concerned that they were not branched out, was told to cut off the leader. I did and now the trees aren’t getting bigger nor are they branching out? Did I damage the trees?


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

Weeping Nootka Cypress ( Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ) is a medium to large pyramidal tree with a strong central leader and drooping branchlets with dark gray-green foliage that drape from spreading and upcurved branches.

The following is from Lee Reich in The Pruning Book :

“Most coniferous trees …need little pruning beyond that necessary to maintain a single central leader. Rarely do any shoots compete with the developing leader, but if they do cut them off completely as soon as you notice them.”

These trees require little pruning. Crossing or poorly formed branches can be removed to promote a more regular weeping structure. Also, it is recommended to prune them when they are young so they get full and not completely spindly. Trim back the new growth (not the leader) of the current season on all of the lateral branches once a year to maintain a uniform pyramidal shape.

Now that the leader has been removed a new one can be established by tying a side shoot in an upright position for 18 months

According to Lee Reich, The Pruning Book “If a developing leader is damaged or broken off… one or more of the topmost branches will bend upward on their own accord to assume leadership. select one of these as the leader …temporarily tying it to the remaining portion of the leader.”

If this idea too difficult for you to attempt, my suggestion would be to contact a certified arborist and ask his advice. To find a certified professional arborist visit the Ontario branch of the International Society of Arboriculture here.

Good Luck!