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Growing Italian Cypress – How To Care For Italian Cypress Trees

Growing Italian Cypress – How To Care For Italian Cypress Trees


By: Teo Spengler

Tall and stately, slender Italian cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens) stand like columns in formal gardens or front of estates. For more Italian cypress information including tips on how to grow an Italian cypress, read on.

Italian Cypress Information

These cypress trees grow in a very upright columnar shape. In fact, Italian cypress can get to 70 feet (21 m.) tall or even taller. On the other hand, they only grow between 10 and 20 feet (3-6 m.) wide. Anyone growing Italian cypress knows that these trees shoot up rapidly in the right location, often growing up to 3 feet (.9 m.) per year.

How to Grow an Italian Cypress

If you want to grow an Italian cypress, first determine if your climate will allow these trees to thrive. Italian cypress grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10.

Fall is a good time to plant Italian cypress trees. To start growing Italian cypress, dig holes that are three and five times the width of the plant containers or root balls. The holes, however, shouldn’t be deeper than the root ball depth.

These wide holes allow Italian cypress trees to expand their roots as they grow. If you try to start growing them in smaller holes, it may cause the roots to circle around the holes, girdling the root balls.

Care for Italian Cypress

Once you have the trees properly sited and planted, it’s time to think about proper care for Italian cypress. The first part of care involves irrigation. You’ll need to water the plants well just after planting. Then make irrigation a part of your regular care routine.

These trees are generally healthy but you should keep an eye out for spider mites. If you ignore the presence of these tiny bugs, your elegant trees will soon look in disarray. Inspecting and shaking the tree branches while holding a white sheet of paper will help detect these pests. If tiny red bugs fall onto the paper, spray water on full blast over the tree’s foliage to dislodge them.

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Italian Cypress Information: Learn How To Grow An Italian Cypress Tree - garden

Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) is an evergreen tree known for its column shape that can reach heights of 60 feet tall and about 10 feet wide. This tall and narrow shape is distinctive. These trees, which grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7b through 11, are mostly utilized as an accent plant and can create a wall used for privacy around a home or busniess. Commercially available Italian cypress plants are relatively expensive, so growers may elect to grow this plant from seed. Fortunately, Italian cypress seeds germinate readily, especially if stratified

[caption align="aligncenter"] Plant hardiness Zones 7-11
(https://www.thetreecenter.com/italian-cypress/)

The Italian Cypress is originated from countries located in the Western Mediterranean like Greece, Turkey, Israel, Italy and Lebanon. It has also been cultivated in other countries, but mainly Italy, for centuries, hence the name Italian Cypress. This beautiful tree grows tall and narrow on its own so not too much pruning is necessary to keep this tree’s shape.

The preferred method of propagation for the Italian Cypress is by seeds or cuttings. Grafting and tissue culture is typically not used because they are time consuming, expensive and have a lower success rate than the other two methods. Although seed propagation is preferred, this method still has its downsides. Seed propagation requires much time and patience. If the grower wants to propagate at a faster pace they may want to use a different method such as grafting. When starting the process with a seed it can take up to a year or even longer for it to go from a germinated seed to a seedling ready to be planted.

These are the supplies you will need:

  • Cypress Seeds
  • Pots
  • Propagation media
  • Peat moss or sawdust
  • Plastic bag

Gathering seeds for Propagation:

The first step you will want to take is collecting the Italian Cypress seeds. This can be done one of two ways, either from a commercial seed producer or by collecting the seeds from the tree itself. The seeds may be collected from the tree’s cones once they are mature in Fall. The cheapest way to obtain the seeds is by locating a mature tree outside and collecting the cones. The cones contain a decent amount of seeds. If you do not have access to an Italian Cypress you can easily order a packet of seeds from an online seed producer. For this situation we will collect them from a cone.

  1. Collect ripe cones from the Italian cypress in fall before the cones are on the ground. Break the cone open to collect seeds. Either store the seeds in a cool, dry place or begin the stratification or scarification process. Seeds in storage remain viable for several years.
[caption align="alignnone"] Seeds from cone. (http://www.plant-rhizome.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Italian-Cypress-Trees.jpg)

Scarification-The seeds of many plant species are often impervious to water and gases, thus preventing or delaying germination. Any process designed to make the seed coat more permeable to water and gases is known as scarification.

Stratification– the process of treating stored or collected seed prior to sowing to simulate natural winter conditions that a seed must endure before germination. Some seed species undergo an embryonic dormancy phase, and generally will not sprout until this dormancy is broken.

  1. We will stratifythe seeds for at least 3 weeks before sowing them. The seeds should be placed in a container or plastic bag that contains peat moss or sawdust that is slightly damp. The container should then be placed in an area that has a temperature between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit for the greatest success rate. A refrigerator would be a good place to store them to accomplish this.
  2. Next we will want to prepare the germination container with the propagation medium. Soil that is heavy in peat or compost is preferred for ideal growth. Use disinfected flats or pots with several drain holes and a sterile, well-drained medium.
  3. After the stratification process is complete you may sow the seeds in the germination container you put together in the last step.
  4. Cover the seeds in about ⅕ inch of your preferred soil and wet the soil.
  5. The germination container should be in indirect, but bright light. The temperature should be kept between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit for the greatest chance of growth.
  6. The medium should be in an area where it can be regularly misted, like a greenhouse. The soil should never dry out.
  7. The seedlings should sprout in about one to two months.
  8. Transplant seedlings into pots with well-drained, rich propagation medium once the seedlings are large enough to handle with ease. Keep the seedlings in these containers for close to a year. Overwinter them indoors or in a protected site their first winter before planting them in their permanent locations the following spring.

The young Italian Cypress will sprout up to 3 feet a year, slowing down in growth progress as it matures. Your young trees should establish themselves in a relatively short amount of time to create the screen you want. For the best plant possible, the Italian Cypress should be treated with the appropriate fertilizer. This tree can survive droughts fairly well, but still make sure it is watered regularly to promote the growth of a sturdy and healthy plant. As for managing stressors, this tree is resistant to deer, and can withstand fires. However, monitor your tree for mites and cypress canker.

The Italian Cypress is a tall, columnar tree, growing to about 60 feet tall and 10 feet wide. It is an evergreen with soft foliage and beautiful round cones that will grow in any sunny, dry area in all kinds of soil. It functions as a unique accent plant. You can create columns on each side of a door or driveway and it is an is also the ideal choice for a screen in a confined space as it will naturally grow tall but narrow. It grows quickly, can survive drought and resistant to many stressors. This unique plant makes a gorgeous tall column of green to add a dash of sophistication to any part of your garden or home.

Hartmann, Hudson T., Dale E. Kester, Fred T. Davies, and Rovert L. Geneve. Hartmann & Kester’s Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices. 7th Ed. Prentice Hall, 2002. 820. Print


How to Germinate Italian Cypress Seeds

The Italian Cypress tree is a tall-growing, cylinder evergreen that reaches a height of 40 to 60 feet. The tree grows quickly and produces a small cone that can be collected for seed propagation. Plant established one-year-old Italian Cypress seedlings in an outdoor location that has well-draining soil and full sunlight conditions. The trees are drought tolerant, when the condition exists, but require regular watering to become established after planting.

Collect Italian Cypress seed cones before they fall from the tree in fall. Cones that have fallen have a reduced chance of germinating. Break the cones apart and separate the seeds from the cone debris.

  • The Italian Cypress tree is a tall-growing, cylinder evergreen that reaches a height of 40 to 60 feet.
  • The trees are drought tolerant, when the condition exists, but require regular watering to become established after planting.

Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours as part of the scarification process. Remove the seeds from the water and place them on a damp paper towel. Place the seeds and towel in a sealed plastic bag.

Stratify the seeds by placing the plastic bag in a refrigerator or cold location for 30 days. This will mimic a cold winter dormant season so the seed begins the germination process.

Prepare a seed starting tray by filling it with an even mixture of sterile peat moss and perlite. Dampen the soil with water prior to sowing the seeds. Sow each seed by placing it on the soil and lightly covering it with the soil mixture at a depth of one-quarter inch.

  • Soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours as part of the scarification process.
  • Sow each seed by placing it on the soil and lightly covering it with the soil mixture at a depth of one-quarter inch.

Cover the seed starting tray with a clear plastic cover and place it in a cool location and well-ventilated area with indirect sunlight. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, until the seeds have germinated and sprouts have appeared. Remove the cover daily to refresh the air in the tray.

Transplant the seedlings once the roots are established and the seedlings are strong enough to be handled. Plant each seedling in an individual three-inch plastic planting container filled with sterile potting soil.

Grow the seedlings in a pot for the first year. Transplant the seedlings to an outdoor growing location in the spring after they are one year in age or older.

  • Cover the seed starting tray with a clear plastic cover and place it in a cool location and well-ventilated area with indirect sunlight.
  • Transplant the seedlings to an outdoor growing location in the spring after they are one year in age or older.

Italian Cypress seeds can be sown outdoors in the fall or winter. Stratify the seeds and sow at a depth of 1/16 inch in a location that receives full sunlight. Cover the seeds with a light layer of mulch and water to moisten the soil.


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Gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

Look for the cultivar of Cupressus sempervirens called Tiny Tower ('Monshel'). Although not exactly what I'd consider "tiny", this selection only grows about 1/3 the height of standard Italian cypresses. And it takes a long time to get there :-)

Other choice you could consider are narrow, upright conifers that have been trained into a topiary form - arborvitae, junipers, dwarf Alberta spruce, etc. And there are other, broadleaved evergreen shrubs available trained in the same form. As long as you are willing to provide the attention to maintain their topiary form, these tend to stay quite small and in scale.


How to Water Italian Cypress

Italian Cypress prefer to grow in dry conditions. During its first growing season, water regularly to help establish a healthy and robust root system. To water, deep soak around the root ball. Install emitters about one and a half feet from the trunk. If using a water hose, set the hose on a slow trickle so that it can thoroughly saturate the root ball. To help retain moisture, add a two to three-inch layer of mulch. Mulching is also a great way to prevent weeds. Be sure to keep mulch at least two inches away from the trunk. They do not like "wet feet."


Watch the video: How to Fertilize Italian Cypress