Cypress Trees: Expert Tips on Planting & Caring for Cypresses

Cypress Trees: Expert Tips on Planting & Caring for Cypresses

Cypress trees provide an atmosphere reminiscent of summer holidays. If you long for a little Mediterranean flair in your garden, then cypresses are the perfect choice. In this article, we will explore the origin and characteristics of cypress trees, the different species and varieties available, how to properly plant them, and the essential care and maintenance they require.

Cypress Trees: Origin and Characteristics

Cypress trees belong to the conifer family known as Cupressaceae and are native to warm areas of the northern hemisphere, including Italy, Asia, northern Africa, and warm regions of North America. These evergreen conifers can reach impressive heights, making them excellent choices for hedges that provide privacy. Cypress tree leaves are needle-like and can vary in color from dark green to silver-blue. When you rub the leaves between your fingers, they emit an interesting scent. Cypress trees also produce small, spherical seed cones with a woody outer shell to protect the seeds within.

Cypress Plant Species and Varieties

There are at least 16 known cypress species worldwide, but only a few are commonly cultivated as ornamental plants in the UK. Some of the most popular varieties include:

  • Mediterranean Cypress Trees: Also known as Italian cypress trees, these are the ones that adorn the landscapes of the Mediterranean and Tuscany. They are columnar trees that can reach up to 45m in height. However, they are not particularly frost-resistant.
  • Leyland Cypress Trees: Ideal for beautiful and dense hedges, these hardy cypress plants are a hybrid of the Nootka false cypress and Monterey cypress. They grow extremely quickly, up to 1m per year, and can withstand cold temperatures.
  • Kashmir Cypress Trees: Native to Bhutan, these trees have blue-green, scaly leaves that hang down from the branches, giving them a beautiful overall look. However, they are not hardy in the UK.
  • Yunnan Cypress Trees: Found in the mountain forests of China, these ornamental trees are only conditionally hardy in the UK.
  • Monterey Cypress Trees: Popular worldwide, these trees can be seen in gardens around the world. They are often contorted into bizarre shapes by violent winds in harsh climates. The ‘Goldcrest’ variety is commonly grown as a houseplant.
  • False Cypress Trees: These cold-tolerant alternatives to true cypresses are suitable for regions with colder climates.

Planting Cypresses

Cypress Trees: Expert Tips on Planting & Caring for Cypresses

When planting cypresses, it’s important to space out individual plants to allow them to grow into magnificent specimens. Keep a planting distance of at least 1m between each cypress tree. The same goes for planting cypress hedges, with a minimum distance of 50cm.

Choose a sunny to partially shaded location for your cypress trees and provide wind protection. Cypress plants prefer sandy, humus-rich, well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH value between 5 and 6. Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost is an excellent choice for providing your cypress trees with the necessary nutrients and promoting healthy soil.

For planting, dig a large hole and backfill it with loose excavated material. If necessary, add some sand or gravel to improve drainage. Take the root ball out of the pot, loosen it up a little, and place it in the hole. Cover the root ball with excavated soil, lightly press down the soil, and water well. Adding a layer of bark mulch around the plant will help prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.

Caring for Cypresses

Cypress Trees: Expert Tips on Planting & Caring for Cypresses

Cypresses are relatively low-maintenance plants that reward us with year-round green foliage. They only require occasional watering and protection from the cold in winter if necessary. Annual pruning is essential to promote compact growth and prevent them from becoming sparse or falling victim to snow breakage.

Watering cypress trees is species-dependent, with some requiring more moisture than others. Using a layer of bark mulch helps preserve soil moisture. Pruning cypress trees should be done in October to maintain their shape and promote healthy growth. Fertilizing in spring with compost, manure, or Plantura All Purpose Plant Food will keep your cypress trees happy and healthy.

Overwintering Cypresses

While some cypress species are hardy and can withstand the winter outdoors, others require extra protection. For sensitive species, wrapping the trees with a bright fleece can help against strong sub-zero temperatures. Potted cypresses should be covered with bamboo fencing or something similar to prevent freezing. If you have a Monterey cypress houseplant, it should be relocated to a cool place with sufficient light during the winter months.

Propagating Cypresses

Propagating cypress trees can be a lengthy process, but it is possible. You can propagate them by seed or cuttings. Seeds need to be matured on the plant for at least 2 years before they can be germinated. Cuttings should be taken in the spring and placed in damp potting soil.

Are Cypress Trees Poisonous?

Cypress Trees: Expert Tips on Planting & Caring for Cypresses

Cypress trees have a pungent, spicy scent caused by toxins in the plant. While these toxins have a healing effect in small doses, they are toxic to humans and animals if ingested. Therefore, it’s important to keep grazing animals, rodents, and young children away from cypress trees.

In conclusion, cypress trees are a beautiful addition to any garden, providing a touch of Mediterranean flair. With the right care and maintenance, they can thrive and bring year-round greenery to your outdoor space. For more expert tips on planting and caring for cypresses, visit Tips Tree Planting.