How to Care for Italian Cypress Trees


The Italian cypress tree, or Cupressus sempervirens, is a kind of evergreen conifer that has been a staple in traditional Italian gardens since the time of the Renaissance. It is also often referred to as the Mediterranean cypress tree. The maintenance of a Mediterranean cypress tree is not too difficult due to the fact that it thrives in dry circumstances. The hardiness zones for the Italian cypress are 7 to 10 according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Italian Cypress Tree Identification

The natural habitat of Italian cypress trees extends over most of the Middle East, including Turkey and Iran, as well as the Greek islands of Crete and Rhodes in the Mediterranean. The most distinguishing characteristic of the kind of Italian cypress that is used for commercial purposes is its columnar, elongated shape. Because of this, it is an excellent choice for constructing a screen by planting a number of specimens in a row. Per the Missouri Botanical Garden, it may reach heights between 40 to 60 feet and spread between 10 and 20 feet. The ‘Glauca’ cultivar of Cupressus sempervirens, which may be grown in zones 7 through 10, is a more compact variety that can extend up to 10 feet in width. It is also known as the pencil pine cypress.

When the tree is young, the bark is paper-thin and grey in colour; as the tree becomes older, the bark thickens and takes on a brownish hue. Fruiting cones on Italian cypresses have a rounded appearance and are around one centimetre in length. This particular tree is monoecious, which indicates that it produces both male and female cones at the same time. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the typical Italian cypress has leaves that are a bluish-gray colour, but the ‘Glauca’ cultivar has leaves that are a bluish-green colour.

Mediterranean Cypress Tree Care

It should come as no surprise that a tree that is native to the Mediterranean region would thrive in hot and dry circumstances, and Italian cypresses are no exception. It is recommended by Moon Valley Nurseries that throughout the first year of an Italian cypress’s existence, the tree should get consistent watering in order to promote healthy root development. After becoming established, they are able to tolerate moderate drought and can even endure forest fires. According to research conducted by the University of Redlands, the Italian cypress is able to thrive in a wide variety of soil types, including sandy soils and clay soils. Regarding the pH of the soil, it is able to thrive in both alkaline and acidic environments.

Full sun, which is defined as receiving at least six hours of sunshine every day, is ideal for these plants. According to research conducted by the University of Redlands, the Italian cypress requires very minimal trimming due to the natural form of the tree. They need minimal fertiliser and very little upkeep on your part. It is recommended by Moon Valley Nurseries that mulch be used around the base of an Italian cypress in order to prevent the growth of weeds. However, the mulch should be kept at least two inches away from the trunk at all times.

Italian Cypress Tree Diseases

According to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Italian cypresses may be susceptible to lethal cankers generated by fungus in some areas. These cankers include seiridium canker and botryosphaeria canker, both of which are named after fungi. These diseases infiltrate Italian cypress trees via wounds in the bark. These wounds may be formed by pruning and mower cuts, damage caused by wind or insects, or other sorts of injury. This illness, which may be fatal to an Italian cypress in as little as five years, manifests itself early on as dead branches on the tree. The progression of the canker can be stopped by removing infected branches.

Inadequate drainage may lead to the development of phytophthora rot in an Italian cypress, which damages the plant’s feeder roots. Because of this, it is more challenging for water and nutrients to reach the canopy of the tree where they are needed. As a direct consequence of this, the leaves will become yellow and brittle. There are commercially available fungicides that can be used to treat phytophthora. According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension, Italian cypress trees are prone to spider mites in some localities, and bagworms may also become a problem in certain areas.