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MICROBIOTA decussata

Image of Microbiota decussata

Russell Stafford

Family

Cupressaceae

Botanical Name

MICROBIOTA decussata

Plant Common Name

Microbiota

General Description

Russian arborvitae is a low, spreading, hardy evergreen with plume-like, gently drooping branches and short, smooth needles that turn from green to bronze-purple in the cold temperatures of fall and winter. Naturally found above the treeline on mountains in southeastern Siberia, this conifer grows broader with time but no higher, covering the rocky terrain. In spring its new growth is light green and gradually darkens to bright medium green as they broaden to form the flattened sprays. The branches are horizontal with weeping tips, giving the look of a soft, feathery shrub, even though the scaley needles are coarse to the touch. Both male and female flowers appear on the plant in summer, but are not showy, and small oval cones arise from the female flowers. Cold weather in fall and winter causes the foliage to turn either reddish brown or purpled.

Grow Russian arborvitae in a well-drained fertile soil in full sun for best foliage. It is reputed as being a great plant for the shade, but too much shade causes leggy and more unattractive growth and plant form. Use is as a broad groundcover for slopes or large foundation plantings. Although beautiful when fully green, this evergreen’s purple-brown color in winter may not be the perfect match for everyone's aesthetic.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 7

  • Sunset Zone

    A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Needled or Scaled Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    8"-12" / 20.3cm - 30.5cm

  • Width

    4'-6' / 1.2m - 1.8m

  • Native To

    Russia/Siberia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Spreading

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green, Copper

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Purple, Sienna, Burgundy, Bronze

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Sandy Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

    Alpine, Edging, Feature Plant, Foundation, Groundcover, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No