How To Gardening Plant Portraits Top Point white cedar

Top Point white cedar

By Nancy Norris | October 25, 2022

This true dwarf conifer grows just three inches per year

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Top Point white cedar tree

Common name: Top Point white cedar

Latin name: Chamaecyparis thyoides ‘Top Point’

Plant type: dwarf conifer

Plant size: 4-5′ at maturity

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-9

Cultural needs: Moist or average, slightly acidic soil; full sun

two trees on a garden railroad
Top Point trees wear their bronze winter color. Photo by Nancy Norris

Classics among railway forest trees are the many, dwarf varieties of Chamaecyparis thyoides, the native parent that matures at over 8′. C.t. ‘Top Point’ is a true dwarf conifer, growing only 3″ a year and easily kept at 2′ with trimming. With a tightly vertical habit, this narrow, conical tree has tiny, bright green, scale-like leaves culminating in a spire-like apex (top point). Care should be taken not to break off the slightly brittle tip. Hessel’s Hairstreak butterfly larvae need its leaves for its only food source. The parent, known as Atlantic white cedar or swamp cedar, grows from Maine to Mississippi in moist meadows and sunny swamps, loving wet feet but intolerant of shade. The variety Top Point white cedar tolerates short periods of drought once established.

Also look for similar varieties: C.t. ‘Meth Dwarf’, C.t. ‘Little Jamie’, C.t. ‘Andelyensis’, and a beautiful, bluish-gray C.t. ‘Glauca Nana’.

Find more plants for your railway.

Learn more about plants at the USDA database.

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