I Love the Weeping Alaska Cedar

Mar 5, 2021 | Love This!

Name: Weeping Alaska Cedar, aka Xanthocyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’, formerly known as Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ (and oh my goodness there’s another genus name in the works. For now, I’m sticking with these while I hope the madness stops.)

Type of Plant: Evergreen tree that’s hardy in zones 4 to 7, that grows slowly to around 35 feet tall in its native haunts of the Pacific Northwest. This tree doesn’t grow so tall in the sandy soils of Cape Cod, however, but it does do well here, growing about a foot per year.

Why I Love/Hate this plant: I love this graceful evergreen tree as a specimen plant or as part of a mixed evergreen screening. It mixes well with Green Giant arborvitaes, Cryptomeria, golden arborvitaes, American holly and other upright evergreens for a multi-colored and textured background for privacy.

A Word to the Wise: Allow the space for this tree to get about eight feet wide.

This weeping Alaska cedar in Armstrong Kelley Park in Osterville is being grown as a specimen plant. Stop by the park, across from Fancy’s Market on Main Street, and say hello!

I have a Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ as part of an evergreen screening on the side of my property. On the right is an American Holly, and on the left of the cedar is a Green Giant arborvitae. Together they make a good screen and background for the flowering shrubs that will be blooming in the summer.

The weeping form of the branches of Xanthocyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ are graceful.


  1. Mike O

    I share your admiration for this tree! Unfortunately, while mine continues to grow and has abundant coverage up top, the lowest branches are getting very sparse. Your thoughts are sppreciated

    • CL Fornari

      If the lower branches are being shaded, either by the top growth or surrounding trees/shrubs, that will make them sparse. Plants don’t tend to make leaves where no photosynthesis can happen. It’s natural for larger trees to do this, and if you need lower growth for privacy, plant something like Rhododendrons in front or behind the cedar.

  2. Tom Flack

    Hi. I planted a 6-foot weeping Alaska cedar 3 years ago, bought from a local nursery. It is planted in sandy/gravelly soil in an open area along my driveway. It gets full sun whenever the sun is out. I also gets the normal amount of wind for this area, and there are several WAC on my block. I water it regularly. However, after a year of noticeable growth, the tree stopped growing. The foliage has thinned out notieably and in the past year, it has produced numerous cones. No browning, just looks like it lost half its foliage. Still green but really thin. Nursery manager hasn’t a clue.

    Any idea what’s up? I am thinking of transplanting it to my backyard where there is less wind. Thanks.

    • CL Fornari

      First of all, was this a balled and burlap tree? If so, it’s natural that it started to grow after planting but then stalled as the plant put energy into regenerating roots instead of the top growth. If not, ask yourself what was different after that initial growth. Was the weather hotter or drier? Aside from your care, if something changed, then something changed and that u dondoubtedly contributed to the tree’s response. But here’s the bottom line: sometimes we never know why a plant has responded as it has, but we nevertheless need to move forward to support it. So what I would do if this were my plant is to apply a one inch layer of compost or composted manure over the area around the plant and at least two feet BEYOND the driplane. Hopefully you’ll have regular rainfall for the rest of the fall and winter. Next spring, water it deeply once a week (not any more frequently!) if it doesn’t rain.

  3. Jessica Kelly

    Will these to well in soil with black walnut stump still in the ground?


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