Russian Cypress

Virtues: A rugged, dense evergreen shrub that makes a nice evergreen mat. Foliage turns bronze or purplish bronze in winter, for something “different.” A good alternative to mat-forming junipers.

Common name: Russian cypress, Russian arborvitae, Siberian cypress

Botanical name: Microbiota decussata

Foliage: Foliage looks soft and feathery but feels sharp. Foliage is green in warm weather and bronze in cold weather.

Habit: Low, spreading evergreen conifer to 12 inches tall and 10 feet wide. Branches arch, giving it a mounded look.

Season: Year-round.

Origin: Mountains of Siberia, above the tree line.

Cultivation: Grow in full sun to partial shade. Coloration and form are best in more sun. easy to grow and tolerant of various soils, but needs good drainage. A slow grower. Tolerates wind. Deer resistant. USDA Zones 3–7.

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Shrubs and trees with great winter interest are featured in Wonders of the Winter Landscape.

Choose the best conifers for our garden with The Timber Press Pocket Guide to Conifers.

Heat-tolerant groundcovers abound in Groundcovers for the South.

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4 thoughts on “Russian Cypress

  1. From my experiece: Microbiota needs consistent moist soils and good drainage. Full sun and hot dry locations will take this plant out. I have seen good specimens in dappled sun with moist soils and lots of organic matter.

    • Thanks for your comments. These microbiota of witch I speak are growing in dappled shade in a bed surrounding a natural bottom pond. They’ve been well taken care of and irrigated if weather requires. That’s why I’ve been so confounded. Maybe they’re like Daphne in Michigan… one day, gone the next.

  2. I’ve had a problem with microbiota developing brown branches and then dieing on me. I can’t find any obvious symptoms (fungal spores, bugs etc) and sometimes one dies right next to another that looks perfectly healthy. Anyone have any ideas what plagues russian cypress?
    thanks, Leslie

    • I am experiencing exactly the same problem. I would like to know if there is a remedy to stop the browning action. Two others in a more shady location have survived nicely for 3 years. Help!

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