Microbiota of which Russian Cypress is a popular variety is a evergreen groundcover for sun or shade. Find facts and information on growing Russian cypress.
Microbiota variety, decussata, also known as Russian arbovitae because of its sprays of down turned leaves similar to those of arborvitae. Russian cypress is an extremely hardy evergreen shrub with foliage that changes color with the seasons. It has a radiating growth habit and is best used as a woody ground cover on flat or gently sloping landscapes. It does not have a root system strong enough for steep slopes or banks, only gently sloping grounds.
The foliage starts out bright, green, turning dark green by summer, then dark brown in fall and remains so throughout the winter. Russian cypress is a good alternative in lightly shaded areas where junipers or other herbaceous evergreen ground covers will not grow.
The fern-like foliage looks good as edging plants along a walkway or growing over a retaining wall. The best performance is in partial sun in moist, well-drained soils, but it is adaptable to poor, dry, thin soils in wind-exposed sites. It can be grown in full sun if it has ample water. It likes cold climates and does not perform well in southern areas. Plants will slow to green up in spring. The brownish foliage should not be mistaken for dieback or winter burn.
Care of Microbiota Varieties
Russian cypress will grow in zones 2-7 but prefers cold climates. It will and reach 1’ h x 6'-9’ w and has a form of a radiating mat.
Plant container grown specimens in spring. Give the plants plenty of room, with a minimum spacing of 48” between plants. Keep the soil consistently moist and cool until the ground freezes in fall. Russian cypress does not tolerate drought. Apply a 1’-2” layer of shredded bark, pine needles, or wood chips around each plant as soon as the ground warms in spring, and replenish as necessary throughout the growing season.
Feed every spring with an organic plant food such as fish emulsion. Also, sprinkle plant food around the base of each plant before new growth starts and water well. Pruned only dead or broken stems. This evergreen looks best if it is allowed to spread freely.
Propagation: Take hardwood cuttings in early spring from the previous season’s growth.
Pests and Diseases: None are serious, but plants in compacted soil can get root rot. Avoid this by properly preparing the soil beforehand. Replace heavy clay soil, or plant shrubs in a raised bed.