Japanese Cleyera Information: How To Care For A Cleyera Shrub

How To Prune Japanese Cleyera Info:

The Japanese clyerata (or Japanese crab) is one of the most common species of clyeras in Japan. They are native to the mountains around Tokyo and other areas near the city center. These plants grow up to 30 feet tall with a spread of 10 feet or so. Their leaves are very large and hairy, but not quite as hairy as those of the American clyerata.

Clyeras have been used medicinally for centuries. They were traditionally chewed to treat coughs and colds. Today they are often grown for their flowers which produce white flowers in spring and red berries in summer. Clematis species such as the Japanese clyerata are known for having long stems with many branches, making them easy to care for.

However, the Japanese clyerata does have some characteristics that make it difficult to maintain.

In general, the Japanese clyerata is hardy to zone 3 and prefers well drained soil. If kept in poor drainage conditions, however, they may die back if left too long without water. Because of their size and tendency toward overgrowth, they require regular trimming to keep them manageable. They also have a tendency to get a disease known as black knot.

This is especially true if they are grown in shady, poorly drained soil. If this disease is left unchecked, it may destroy the plant entirely and can only be treated with chemicals.

The best way to combat these problems is through pruning. The clyerata should be pruned in late winter or very early spring before it begins to leaf out. Pruning the plant will help ensure that it stays within bounds and that the black knot disease is not passed from one year to another.

If you are looking for a shrub for your yard, the clyerata is a good choice. It has attractive flowers and berries, but it may require some extra maintenance to keep it healthy.

Japanese Cleyera Information: How To Care For A Cleyera Shrub

Japanese Cleyera Information: How To Care For A Cleyera Shrub on igrowplants.net

A Japanese clyerata has long been grown for its large leaves and attractive berries. It is a very popular ornamental plant that can be used in many different ways in the garden. It is easily grown and quite hardy. The only potential problem with it is its size.

It will grow to be between 10 and 20 feet tall, but it can easily be kept smaller with pruning.

Growing Conditions

Japanese clyerata is hardy to zone 3 and will grow in most types of soil as long as they are well-drained. This plant prefers partial shade and will not tolerate hot, sunny locations. It also has a strong tendency to get rot or fungus disease if the soil is too wet. For this reason, it should be grown in raised beds and mulched well.

In addition, it should be pruned a couple of times each year to prevent it from getting too big. It is pruned in early spring and then again in late summer after it has finished bearing fruit.


Japanese clyerata can be grown from seed but the seedlings take several years to bear fruit. It is best to grow them from root cuttings for a quicker start. Take root cuttings in late winter and plant them in pots filled with damp, organic-rich soil (such as peat moss). Keep the soil barely moist and the cuttings will usually take root in 2 to 3 weeks.


The Japanese clyerata requires very little care. It can withstand quite a bit of abuse and neglect. It only requires two things: pruning and an annual feeding of a general-purpose fertilizer.

Pruning: The best way to keep this plant from growing out of bounds is to prune it back severely every year or so. After the plant has produced fruit, prune it right back to the ground. This will promote a low, bushy growth habit that is much more manageable.

Fertilizing: The clyerata should be fertilized in early spring just as it begins to grow. Feed it with a high phosphorus fertilizer (higher numbers mean more phosphorus). A good choice is a 10-10-10 mix. This promotes lots of blooming and branching.

Japanese Cleyera Care Questions

Japanese Cleyera Information: How To Care For A Cleyera Shrub - Picture

Question: I have a large clyerata shrub in my yard. It was very small when I moved in seven years ago. It has grown to be about 15 feet high and 15 feet wide, but it hasn’t flowered or fruited at all. I have a smaller one that is about 3 feet high and 6 feet wide and it flowered for the first time last year.

What shall I do to get the big one to flower?

(e-mail reference)

Answer: Congratulations on your shrub’s first blooms! I’m sure it made you very happy when you saw the flowers.

Now, about your big shrub. I think the problem is that it needs to be pruned severely every year or two in order to promote a bushy habit and lots of blooms and berries. If you’re willing to do this (it is admittedly a lot of work), then I’d say you have two choices. You can either prune it hard right now (while it’s got flowers on it) and hope that it will bloom next year.

Or, you can wait until next year to see if it blooms on its own and then if it doesn’t, prune it back severely in the spring.

If you would rather not go to the trouble of yearly pruning, I would suggest that you dig up your shrub and divide the roots. This will multiply it into several smaller shrubs that can be planted elsewhere in your yard. The original large shrub can then be tossed in the trash.

Question: I recently acquired a Japanese clyerata shrub. It was neglected and has several brown tips on the branches. I have trimmed all of the dead branches off and now it has small green ends on some of the center stems, but they don’t appear to be growing.

Sources & references used in this article:

Morphology and taxonomy of five Cephaleuros species (Trentepohliaceae, Chlorophyta) from Japan, including three new species by Y Suto, S Ohtani – Phycologia, 2009 – Taylor & Francis

Community dynamics of evergreen broadleaf forests in southwestern Japan. II. Species composition and density of seeds buried in the soil of a climax evergreen oak … by K Naka, K Yoda – The botanical magazine= Shokubutsu-gaku-zasshi, 1984 – Springer

Species-specific growth patterns of trees neighboring dead oak trees caused by Japanese oak wilt disease by K Hata, N Iwai, T Sato, H Sawada – Journal of Forest Research, 2017 – Taylor & Francis

The foraging behavior of Japanese macaques Macaca fuscata in a forested enclosure: Effects of nutrient composition, energy and its seasonal variation on the … by MF Jaman, MA Huffman, H Takemoto – Current Zoology, 2010 – academic.oup.com

Oviposition site selection by Japanese gypsy moth (Lymatria dispar japonica) in a warm-temperate secondary forest in western Japan by T Sasaki, S Jikumaru, W Azuma… – Forest science and …, 2016 – Taylor & Francis

Age class differences in the feeding behavior of captive Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscataia) in the forested and nonvegetated enclosure groups by MF Jaman, MA Huffman – Zoo biology, 2011 – Wiley Online Library

A novel HIF inhibitor halofuginone prevents neurodegeneration in a murine model of retinal ischemia-reperfusion by H Kunimi, Y Miwa, H Inoue, K Tsubota… – International journal of …, 2019 – mdpi.com

Age‐dependent patterns of intensive observation on elders by free‐ranging juvenile Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata yakui) within foraging context on … by L Tarnaud, J Yamagiwa – … of Primatology: Official Journal of the …, 2008 – Wiley Online Library

Soil seed bank composition of three forest stands at different developmental stages in a warm-temperate forest in western Japan by K Hirayama, S Yamada, A Inui… – Journal of Forest …, 2019 – Taylor & Francis



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