A native of the Mediterranean basin, cypress is a tree with dark green foliage that is grown in many countries of southern Europe. Famous for its broad conical crown, small fragrant branches and the quality of its wood, this conifer, possessing a noble and elegant bearing, is usually planted as a hedge. Not very demanding, it just needs to be trimmed to preserve its beauty. 

Many species of cypress, all of which have varying bearings, heights and colours, are competing in the Mediterranean basin. Among these many varieties, we can find the Leyland cypress, the Italian cypress and the Monterey cypress.

The characteristics of cypress 

Characterized by a deep green foliage and conical bearing, the cypress generally measures 16 to 60 feet. Whether green, blue-green or golden, cypress leaves always emit a subtle and delicate scent.

Ideal for hedges, the varying species of cypress are very effective as windbreaks to protect gardens from impetuous drafts and strong winds. Very hardy, these sturdy species perfectly adapt to temperate climates. Undemanding in regard to soil type, they can also adapt to harsher climate conditions.

Tips for planting cypress 

Cypress should generally be planted in autumn, before the start of winter. For the cypress to go through the cold season, it is necessary to protect the young tree with a thick enough layer of mulch.

The substrate in which it will be planted must be neutral, rich, airy or dry. It must always be well-drained. On the other hand, even if it likes heat and light, the cypress does not like direct sunlight. For that reason, choose semi-shady areas when you plant.

Pruning cypress 

If you chose the cypress for its ornamental side, you can avoid regular pruning, provided of course that it does not unbalance your garden’s harmony. If you have a more or less confined area, you may as well opt for dwarf species. However, if you want to create a hedge, regular pruning will become necessary, considering that some species sometimes reach a height of 100 feet.

For a faster growth, prune your cypress in early spring. Of course, when you top off your tree, you must do so knowing precisely the height of the hedge you would like to obtain. Do not worry about possibly hindering your tree’s development, as the cypress, even after being subjected to pruning, is one of the fastest growing conifers. As a matter of fact, when topped, it acquires additional vigour and vitality, thus leading to a better growth.

Maintenance of cypress trees 

Besides pruning, the cypress is a tree that requires very little care. Even if planted in relatively arid land, it is not advisable to water it frequently. The cypress particularly fears humidity and, if the soil is too damp, parasitic fungi can affect its development. Water drainage is thus a crucial factor to ensure its proper growth.

If it grows in a wetland, the cypress can be attacked by many parasites that will eventually cause its death. In times of severe drought, water your tree more often, taking care to avoid any accumulation of water.

Finally, know that if one of your cypresses undergoes a pest attack, the entire hedge can be destroyed fairly quickly. Therefore, always choose the most resistant species. There are also many varieties designed to fight off pathogenic fungi responsible for the destruction of cypress.

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Published in Conifers by Alexander on 04 Jul 2011