I Love Gold Mop Cypress

Apr 15, 2016 | Love This!

Name:  Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop” aka gold mop cypress

Type of Plant:  A needled, thread-leaf evergreen…or shall we say ever yellow-green. Hardy in Zones 5 to 7, this kind-of-dwarf shrub ads color to the landscape in all seasons.

Why I love this: Bright yellow-green, shaggy textured foliage that thrives in full sun to part-shade. (Note: the more sun, the more brilliant yellow the foliage.) This plant grows to about five feet high and wide, and does well in most soil types.

Deer tend to leave these shrubs alone (yay!) and they are colorful for twelve months a year.

A Word to the Wise:  Many people look at this plant in the nursery and assume that it stays the cute, one foot tall mop of golden foliage that is in the pot. Not so. A “dwarf” evergreen can still grow to 6’ tall or even taller, and this one is known to grow about five feet tall and wide. And when people try to keep it smaller by shearing it annually, they take off the very tread-like foliage that makes the plant interesting to begin with.

Plant Gold Mop, and the even taller growing ‘Gold Thread’ (aka ‘Filifera Aurea’) where they can get at least six feet tall and wide. Expect it.

Plant a Golden Mop where you want color and texture, especially when it's near other shrubs that have dark green foliage.

Plant a Golden Mop where you want color and texture, especially when it’s near other shrubs that have dark green foliage.

56 Comments

  1. Janet Logan

    Great tip, CL! At your suggestion I moved mine from under the front window to my sunny side yard where it can grow freely. I plan to plant holly or some other shiny dark leaf shrub as a companion! THANK YOU!

    Reply
  2. Maureen Atsalis

    This suggestion came JUST at the perfect time for me…thank you. You just made me look good to a client I clean for who knows I worked at a garden center. They assumed I knew more about plants…I could tell you the SKU # pretty well. Thanks CL : )

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Yay!
      Miss you, BTW. Stop by my gardens sometime this summer if you’re on Cape, OK?

      Reply
  3. Gail Goldsberry

    When is the best time of year to prune it to keep it smaller

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      You’re not going to like my reply, Gail…the problem is, if you prune this plant by cutting it all over in an attempt to keep it smaller, you cut off the very thing you bought the shrub for in the first place: the golden threads! When sheared these plants turn into a sparse, yellow beach ball with no charm whatsoever…and they still grow larger. You can cut back a branch here and there anytime buy clipping inside the plant so that your cut doesn’t show – but needless to say the plant still grows. These get 6 feet tall and wide and if they’re not in a place where this can happen you’re better off moving it.

      Reply
  4. J. Shepherd

    We just moved into a house where the previous owner planted two as driveway borders and, as you predicted, both are about 6′ tall and probably and about 7′ wide at the bottom. Right now our challenge is to keep the lower and longer limbs from creeping onto the driveway and brushing the sides of vehicles. What are your thoughts about limbing the lower branches from the ground to about 2′ up? Would it do any harm to the trees? I guess it would end up looking like a mop on a stick. Many thanks!

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Since they are too large for this location, why not try making them into mops on a stick? Think of them as topiary. There’s no way to make them small again, so short of yanking them out you might as well give arborizing them a try.

      Reply
  5. Gail

    I live in Maryland . Any suggestion where I can find one to buy ? I have one that I want to get a mate for.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Gail – these are very common plants and you’ll undoubtedly be able to find one at your larger local garden centers (not box stores) in the spring. Try Potomac Garden Center or Patuxent Nursery next year in April.

      Reply
  6. Paula Beachnau

    I planted three of these on a slope that I’m landscaping. They are beautiful! Hopefully they are good at holding soil. I love the unkempt look and would like to just leave them alone. Is it okay never to prune them?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Paula,
      These are BEST when not pruned. Just expect them to grow 5 feet tall or more. There is NO keeping them short.

      Reply
  7. Todd Carter

    Howdy. I planted four gold mops last Saturday, 3/31/18.. I wonder, what yearly growth rate can I expect ?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Todd,
      In my experience after the second year these grow between 8″ and 12″ per year.

      Reply
  8. Diane Macleod

    Are they road side tolerant

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      They are not as salt or drought-tolerant as junipers…they are wind tolerant but I wouldn’t plant them near a road that is salted in the winter.

      Reply
  9. Diane Macleod

    Thank you, I ‘ll relocate the gold mop plan, I have a 10 ft roadside planting project, ,pretty much full sun, also on the inner coast on the cape, looking for easy care, maybe 3 -5 ft mature height, that could border blue hydrangeas. Thankyou

    Reply
  10. Stephanie B

    We are redoing our front landscaping and I was thinking of planting these in front of my house with some knock out roses behind them. Do you think they would eventually over grow the roses? I didn’t realize they could get so large.
    Maybe I should use blue star juniper instead?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Stephanie – the gold mop will grow higher than the roses, and pretty quickly. You could use them behind the roses, but I understand that initially they will be lower than the roses…stagger plant so that the gold mop is in between and behind the roses, perhaps. Either way your bed should be at least 8 feet deep or more since both the knockouts and the gold mops grow to be 5 to 6 feet in diameter, again pretty quickly. If you use blue star junipers be sure they aren’t getting hit with too frequent watering…roses like a moist but well-drained soil but the junipers want it to dry out in between waterings.

      Reply
  11. Nancy Herlihy

    Hello we had 4 of these planted in our yard, they were transplanted from another area and were already about 4 feet high and wide. One of them is turning brown at the tips (all over the bush) and I’m wondering if pruning off the dead stuff and maybe fertilizing would help? We’d love to be able to save it, if possible.

    Thanks!

    Nancy

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      The best thing you can do is water it deeply once a week, Nancy. Yes, you could prune off the brown but I’d wait until next spring so that the pruning can safely stimulate growth. (Don’t know where you are, but in most parts of the USA plants should be slowing down for the winter, not starting new growth.) Next spring a light application of Holly-tone and top-dressing with composted manure might help, but no fertilizer now for the same reason as waiting to prune until spring.

      Reply
  12. Tara

    I have a topiary style mop, about 2 feet across and about 3 feet tall. It’s currently in a 2.5 foot wide container- will it be ok outside in zone 6 through the winter, or will I need to bring it inside? I love it so much, I don’t want it to freeze in the container!

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Tara,
      The best situation would be to dig a hole slightly deeper than the pot and sink that pot into the ground. Do this in a sunny location, protected from wind if possible. Cover with soil on all sides and an inch on the top. Then apply an inch or two of dark mulch or dark compost – that will absorb the heat of the sun Then next spring dig the pot up. Second best would be an unheated garage with a window – water when dry. Do not bring this plant into the average heated house.

      Reply
  13. Kaylee King

    We planted 3 mop heads summer of 2016 and over the past few weeks they had a little growth spurt and looked great. Today I see they have all gotten brown in the center! What could have happened so suddenly? We’ve had some rain over the past week so do you think its too wet and they are reacting to that? Will they dry out and come back or will they die off? I don’t see any insects or signs of disease.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Kaylee – if these were planted in 2016 they should be pretty established by now. It’s possible that what you see is the normal browning of older foliage before winter that some evergreens do. Many plants shed the oldest before winter so they don’t have to carry all the foliage through the cold season. Too much water wouldn’t cause browning in the center but too little water could…if you had a dry spell in the summer and these weren’t watered deeply once a week it’s possible that you’re seeing the results of that now.

      Reply
  14. Tom Wolf

    I live in zone 7 and am looking at the Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘ Golden Mop ‘ Dwarf Sawara Cypress. Description says that 10 year average is 2′ tall, 3’ wide. Can I trust that, or do yo still think it would get larger than that?

    Reply
  15. Kathryn Foster

    My husband just completely chopped ours down, he seems to think they will come back …….. he was annoyed because they were so big and unkempt but I loved them because the chickens and ducks could hide under there. They were next to the house so yes they were huge but I told him we should just dig them up now because he ruined them. Do you think there is any hope for them to recover?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Kathryn,
      Well, one thing gardeners learn is to “never say never” so I won’t tell you that it’s impossible for them to come back, but I can say it’s really unlikely. Unlike yews, these conifers don’t put out new growth from old, bare stems. See the last paragraph about Chamaecyparis (Gold Mop Cypress are Chamaecyparis) here:https://www.finegardening.com/article/how-to-prune-conifers

      Reply
  16. Robin

    Are there any truly dwarf Gold Mops, say, 24 inches and under, or similar plants?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      No. So far I know of no plants that stay small. Even the “smaller” cultivars grow to 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide.

      Reply
  17. Alisha

    Hi,

    I had beautiful mophead in front of my covered porch…very full and tall..hired a landscaper to pull out some other dead bushes and he took it upon himself to trim my mopheads…not happy at all..I cried…my question is will they recover or I should I just cut them down and plant new ones? I personally think he butcheries them..I wish I could post pictures to show you

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Alisha,
      I feel your pain! If he cut into bare wood and stems, so there is little foliage remaining, you might have to replace. But if he just trimmed the pretty fringes off so that they look like sheared yellow meatballs, they will come back. If these were mine I’d give them some Hollytone, water them once a week if it doesn’t rain, and wait to see what they did over the summer.

      Reply
      • Bernita McGoldrick

        the same exact thing happened to me. a landscaper was supposed to just trim, but he topped them, and now my beautiful cypress mops look like they have been in a war. I am very distressed and don’t know what to do. What if we can’t get HollyTone? that is Nitrogen, correct? If that is the case, that is not allowed where I live, because our water comes from acquifers.

        Reply
        • CL Fornari

          Holly-tone is a general organic fertilizer that is good for most evergreens. Use the organic fertilizer of your choice, but don’t over do it. Hopefully your shrub will grow out of being butchered!

          Reply
  18. Terri Broyles

    I love the color of these plants. Unfortunately the people who previously owned our home planted 3 of them on very close proximity to one another and right in front of a Japanese maple. So now, you can really see the maple at all and the three are growing out of control making my side bed look crazy . Going to try moving two of them to the side of the house. I’d hate to just yank them out and let them die.

    Reply
  19. Jill Dockins

    Reading this has been so very helpful. I bought my house in Northern Virginia two years ago, and the new landscaping had five of these beautiful little shrubs a few feet apart in a row across the front of the house. They’ve grown quite a bit since then! Now I know not to trim them back and to relocate them in the Spring to more appropriate locations while they are still only a couple of feet tall. Thank you for the information and answers!

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Glad it was useful, Jill!

      Reply
  20. LES

    I understand the pruning technique but I’d like to take some height off my overgrown Golden Mop. How is this done correctly?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      I’m sorry, Les, but there is no great way to take height or width off this plant without ruining it’s look. Yes, you can clip up to 12″ off top branches, but this will result in greater growth to the sides. And the plant will replace it’s height by next fall. Better not to think of it as “overgrown” but as the size this plant’s genetics are prompting it to be.

      Reply
  21. DIANA piasecki

    We live in Zone 8 and in June 2019, our landscaper planted supposedly three golden mops. They were planted in the front yard where it gets constant sun. However, when they were planted, they were all green. We were advised by landscaper that the shrubs would eventually turn golden, and to give it time. Well. It is now April 2020, and they are not golden at all.. Why do you think they are not turning golden or do you think they these shrubs are another variety? Thanks.

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Diana,
      These should already be gold. If they were planted in March I’d give them more time. But if they’ve been in the ground for more than a couple of months and haven’t turned color it’s likely that you got a different plant.

      Reply
  22. Marlene Mourad

    Hello and thank you for such great information! The information you are providing here is, from my personal experience, more accurate than any other posts I’ve found on the golden mops.

    I currently have 3 that were small when I moved in but have grown exactly as you’ve said and are really too large for their present location. The prior owners obviously thought they would stay small but they are now about 5’ high and 4’ wide, growing into each other and obstructing the tree behind them. Can you provide guidance on relocating these (including the likelihood of success)?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Marlene,
      I wish I had a magic wand and could tell you how likely you are to be successful, but since all the wands seem to be contained in Harry Potter books, all I can say is that if these are in the wrong place you should move them anyway. Do it soon, in May, get as large a root ball as you possibly can, and place them where they’re in part to full sun and can get even larger. Water them in right away and water deeply once a week through the summer and fall. And thanks for your kind words about my blog!

      Reply
  23. Jessica McGrogan

    Hello,
    I’m pretty sure you answered this already-sorry-want to confirm and ask another question.
    Back side of 3 gold mop cypress shrubs that were against the house were cut away- all the way down to brown branches and over-planting close to the base choked off growth on the bottom-more brown branches. Will there be new growth to fill in the brown side and bottom, if replanted in an open space with light? How long could that take?
    Or, lastly, would I have better luck replanting & regrowing a 5ft Yew tree/shrub (half of which is brown with no growth on the backside due to being planted against a porch)? I’m guessing the yew-because that will regrow, but the cypress will not?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      No, these plants will not green up or grow new foliage from bare spots. Yews care better at growing from old wood, although no guarantees.

      Reply
  24. Sue Greenspan

    The previous owners of our house planted a gold mop cypress in the corner of a raised bed right next to the front walkway, It is now about six feet tall (and seems taller because of the raised bed!). It is growing out over the walk, of course. I don’t think I can move it due to its size and limited space in my yard that gets sun. Also I’m sure removing it would damage the brick retaining wall it is growing against. My husband wants to shear it back but I’m thinking of trying to hand prune it lower and narrower. What do you think? Is it worth a try? Or should I just let him shear it? It is beautiful and I hate to remove it. Thank you!

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Sue,
      I think you’ll be disappointed by the shearing and the attempt to make it smaller, but if you don’t want to move it, and it’s too large and not attractive in this location, what have you got to lose by giving it a try? The worst that will happen is that you’ll say, “Well, that didn’t work – let’s rip it out.” But it could be that you’ll think the results are okay and go forward from there. If there are two things I’ve learned in my many years of gardening, it’s that there is NEVER only one right way to do things, and often plants survive against all odds. So go for it and if you hate it, you were ready to say, “Thanks for coming, bye!” anyway.

      Reply
  25. Jean Johnson

    I have a lovely huge gold mop 7-8′ tall that got hit with the drought last summer. The top half is now all brown and only the bottom half is still golden. Will the top ever put out new growth? If not, any ideas? Thanks

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Hard to say, Jean. Clip off the brown top and see what happens!

      Reply
  26. Thomas gossard

    We have several of these bushes in my back yard lately I’ve noticed recently that the ends of the bushes are turning brown we water regularly, no weeds great sun no bugs can anyone help

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Thomas,
      Since I have no idea where you are, I can’t comment on what problems you might have in your region. That said, ask if any product has been applied around the plants recently – lawn products, for example, weed killer, fertilizer, house washing etc. Any of these can cause browning. Look at the stems to see if the bark has been damaged by voles or mice. And remember that often what we see happening to plants isn’t just one thing, but a combination of several environmental factors.

      Reply
  27. Sarah

    I’ve always wondered WHY landscapers plant these in mass plantings, way to close together & usually inappropriate location. My problem is, I’ve planned recent, gallon size, Cypresses & cannot get my free ranging chickens to leave alone. Apparently they love them & will not quite picking on them. Probably no solution (other than penning chicks) still, thought I’d ask if anyone has a solution?

    Reply
  28. Rosemarie

    I planted 3 Sawara Cypress Golden Mops in 25 inch round barrel pots. I live in Zone 6/7 Long Island NY.
    The pots sit on a Vigoro plastic plate which has knobs at the bottom so the plate is not flat at the bottom.
    These sit on pavers with a brick wall behind them. Do I have to do anything to protect them in case
    there is freezing weather or a lot of snow?

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Since Gold Mop is hardy in a Zone 4, they should be ok in that size pots, at least for a couple of years. If you want to be doubly sure, if temps are predicted below 30 for any length of time you could wrap the pots with bubble wrap to help keep the roots from freeze damage. Snow isn’t an issue unless it’s so deep and heavy that it breaks shrubs, but these aren’t prone to much breakage in general. No guarantees about ice…

      Reply
  29. MARGARET A ROULEAU

    Someone forgot to tell our deer not to browse the golden mops! Had them 3-4 yrs and no problem but this year the deer have browsed on the golden mops AND blue prince/princess hollies. Will the golden mops come back? They are not completely stripped so maybe they didn’t taste as good as the hollies. It’s also the younger, smaller mops that have been affected. I love these guys are they are perfectly suited to my landscape. Please tell me they’ll revive!

    Reply
    • CL Fornari

      Margaret,
      Yes indeed….the problem with the lists of plants that deer don’t eat is that the deer don’t read! In all likelihood they will come back but it might take a couple of years for them to fill out again. If I were you I’d spray both of those plants with Plantskydd asap – it’sa blood-based deer repellent and the longest lasting of the deer sprays.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don`t copy text!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This