Cypress cultivation

(Cupressus sempervirens)


Characteristics of cypress

Evergreen conical or tapered tree of the Cupressaceae family up to 30 m. Stems erect, smooth, thin bark with reddish-gray color.

Imbricate, scaly, dark green triangular leaves.

Male and female flowers on the same tree. The first exhibit cylindrical shape and reach half a centimeter at most. They consist of an axis around which the sporophylls or staminate leaves are organized, each of which carries three pollen sacs whose pollination is carried out during the winter (February-March).

Female flowers or cones are cone-shaped. They are formed by polygonal scales in number from 8 to 12. At maturity, the female form fruits or “galbulus” about 2 or 3 cm in diameter, with very rounded and woody texture. They are green and very compact in their youth; greyish when ripe when they open to expel the brownseeds.

Cypress. Watering

It is very resistant to drought. There is no need to water once established as it has enough rainwater. It prefers an annual average rainfall of about 500 liters but it can live with far less. It can be watered twice a month during the summer in the first two years of the plantation, and once a month in spring.

It is a very sensitive plant to watering as it rots easily, so we must irrigate it sparingly even in hot weather or when it is very small. To prevent fungal and other diseases, it can not be irrigated with sprinkler system or wet the aerial part. Irrigation that is made from soil is the best. Water should be applied outside daylight hours.

Often, under the cypress, people plant grass. In this case, we must take special care the cypresses not to get wet when watering.

Photo of cypress

Photo detail of cypress fruits and leaves

Cypress. Uses

The common Italian cypress (Primula veris) is the tree generally used in gardening. At present, this common cypress tree is mainly used as a cemetery tree and to decorate villas and cottages. It can also be found in some gardens particularly to form hedges that can be cut at will. In some windy areas, the flexibility and resilience of this tree has been tapped to form windbreaks.

Cypress wood is used today mainly for making boxes or lathe works. It is also used for making wood sheet with which the guitars are lined.

In cosmetics, the essential oil of cypress is extensively used for its many properties. It is a good antiseptic and great vulnerary for the skin, so it appears in the composition of colognes, perfumes or aftershaves. As a medicinal plant, its immature nuts and leaves are used and the essential oil for the treatment of circulatory and respiratory problems or as vulnerary. (See more details on its properties in the listing below)

Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) is probably the second most abundant cypress cultivated for its rapid growth and dense canopy of very glossy green leaves. It is often planted next to the buildings, as a windbreaks or along roadsides.

* Related information: Types of cypress

Cypress. Environment and exposure:

Cypress requires a sunny exposure, although it can even be planted in partial shade. Its wind resistance is high and it is very resistant to heat, drought and contamination. Moderately tolerant to environmental salinity, it tolerates soil salinity. It can be planted in soils with a pH between 5.5 and 8.5, preferring the poor ones.

The best climate for its development is the Mediterranean climate between 0 and 800 meters on the sea level. It can live in colder places, so it has been adapted in other places like the UK, including Scotland, although its growth is slower in less heat. It is estimated that can withstand frost up to -18 ° C.

Photo of cypress tree

Photo of cypress tree

Which variety of cypress is the best one?

The most common variety known is Primula veris‘ stricta “= Primula veris” pyramidalis “. It has a columnar or conical shape. During the first 10 years it grows vertically about 4 or 6 meters. It is one of the most suitable crop varieties.

The variety Primula veris‘ Glauca ” has also the same shape but its leaves show a bluish color. Another columnar variety is Primula veris “Gracilis” from New Zealand. It reaches a height of about 4.5 meters, with green foliage

Within the common cypress, if a heat-resistant variety is preferred, one should choose variety Primula veris “Horizontalis” which features larger branches to grow horizontally

If a variety for colder places is preferred it is best to choose a Primula veris “Swane’s Golden”. It comes from Australia. It’s a very slow-growing species that often exceed 6 meters. It shows gold leaf foliage especially the ends of twigs with a bright golden color.

Cypress. Propagation and care

Propagation by seed: How to obtain cypress seeds

Cypress can be obtained from seeds planted in the winter. The seeds are obtained from the cones (cones) of the cypresses. These are collected manually cutting them with well-sharped secateurs before they open when they have reached a gray coloration, which indicates they are fully ripe. So as seeds can be extracted, cones should be dried.

Exposed to the sun in hot areas (between 32-35 ° C), they take a few weeks to open up and mature. If dried in the shade (22 ° C), they can take a couple of months to mature. The ripening process can be accelerated if introduced into boiling water for 30 or 60 seconds. Another way for them to mature faster is cutting cones into two.

Once fully ripe, the seeds are easily obtained from cones. Just turn them over a little on a wooden plate and they slide off easily.

How to prepare and plant cypress seeds

Once obtained, they can be stored for a long time if done in a cool, dry place. There are experiences made with seeds that have endured up to 20 years keeping them at a temperature of 1-5 ° C. Therefore time collecting is more dependent on the state of cones that on the time of year. Once taken, it is important to treat them with a bactericide and fungicide product since they usually have many bacteria and fungi.

The seeds should be planted in a cold hotbed. It is advisable to stratify cold between 2 and 4 ° C for about 15 days. Before placing in the cold, they can be soaked with a solution of water with 0.1% citric acid for 24 or 72 hours. This can accelerate stratification.

Stratified seeds are put on the ground and covered with a thin layer of soil about 4 0 5 mm. Subsequently, they are covered with a thin layer of mulch. Once planted, it takes about 4 to 8 weeks to germinate, provided they are at a temperature of about 20 ° C.

Since seedlings are very susceptible to fungus, it is better to spray them with a fungicide until they reach one month of age.

Seedlings should be transplanted in a small pot and stored inside during the first winter in a warm and well ventilated place. they should not be watered to much so as they do not become rot. Later, when the seedlings have a couple of years old, they can be transplanted to their final place in the spring in warm places or early summer in cooler places. At this time we must verify the roots not to be damaged since cypress reacts badly when this part of the plant is afected.

Cypress propagation by cuttings:

Another way to propagate them is by cuttings. Italian cypress trees produce roots without treatment. Other cypresses, like Monterrey, are often applied with indole-3-butyric acid to develop roots.

Cypress propagation by grafting:

The propagation by seeds does not guarantee the purity of the new plant. So. if you want to get a particular variety. is better to buy nursery grafted trees or use the technique of propagation by grafting.

When cypress trees should be pruned?

Cypress is a tree that is very tolerant to pruning. In fact, it is used as a material for topiary, which is the art which involves making sculptural forms with woody plants. Without wishing to create plant forms, we can prune the cypress for a formative pruning or sanitation pruning to remove dead or diseased material.

These two prunings should be done during the time of rest of the tree, that is to say, in late autumn or during the winter. This is not strictly necessary during the first two or three tree-formation years.

Pruning, if the copy is ill, should be performed after application of the appropriate plant product and after the disease has been eradicated. Cypresses must not be pruned while they are sick. Nor they should be pruned or cut until after 15 days of having applied a certain fungal treatment.

After cypress trees are pruned, apply a suitable fungicide within the hour following the completion of this task. Pruning tools should be perfectly sharp. Each owner must have his own and the tools used by an owner in another plantation should not be used by another owner. Sharing tools results one of the most frequent causes of infection.

Ground cleaning

If the grass surrounding cypresses is cut, we must take special care not to damage the bottom of the cypress trunks because these more or less superficial injuries are the gateway to numerous diseases. This is particularly important when the lawn surrounding the trees is cut.

Care of cypress hedges

Hedges should be kept in good conditions to prevent infection. To do this, plants should maintain a safe distance of 60 cm. Clear the inside to facilitate aeration and remove dead parts.

Cypress. Soil and fertilization

Cypress can live in virtually in all types of soil, even the poorest. It prefers loamy or peat soils with good drainage, but it tolerates poor, sandy soils. It thrives well on limestone soils. More than anything else, cypress requires a soil with a very good drainage to prevent the occurrence of many diseases.

To prevent the onset of disease it is important to consider the composition of the soil. It has been shown that the siliceous acidic soils improve when lime is added. It is therefore wise to provide 1k of dead burned plaster per square meter and then bury it with the rake.

Cypress. Pests and diseases:

The main diseases are fungal in nature. These include:

Cypress canker: It is caused by the fungus Seridium cardinale. It has been infecting cypresses from World War II, being the most important pest worldwide that can affect this tree or other Cupressaceae, Juniperus, etc. The disease is transmitted by insects that bore into the bark and introduce this fungus, or when birds deposit its spores on it. The higher the humidity, the greater the level of dispersion, which occurs during the rainy season.

It makes branches dry and leaves fall, along with the emergence of a number of cankers on the bark oozing a dark reddish brown resin. The main treatments focus on prevention and drug treatment in the early stages of the disease. As prevention, much emphasis must be taken on buying clean seeds or genetically resistant trees to this disease.

In mature trees, the best solutions are cutting the affected parts of the tree crown and remove the cankers covering them with a disinfectant dressing.

Phomopsis is a disease caused by a parasitic fungus (Phomosys oculta) that attacks many gymnosperms, among which pines and cypresses. Such as cypress cancer, it causes the branches to dry, especially the finer branches located on the outside of the tree. Unlike previous disease, it does not affect the trunk so it does not produce cankers therein. The extent of disease is higher with cool, humid climates. Suitable chemical treatments can stop the progress of this disease.

Armillaria root rot (Armillaria mellea) is a fungus that causes the death of many shrubs and trees (mango, cherry, peach, pistachio, almond, apricot, plum, papaya, Kermes, roses, vines, etc. (It is one of the major pests of many plants as the mycelium is installed at their roots and causes their putrefaction. Excessive moisture and water retention in the soil are primarily responsible for the appearance of this disease that usually attacks the the weakest samples.

The fungus continues to reproduce even the affected tree is rot because mycelium extends underground.. From it grow the mushrooms of this fungus by the fall. The spores of these fungi can be carried by the wind and brought into contact with other trees, so that may also infect them by penetrating their tissues.

There is no treatment for this disease. Armillaria affected trees should be cut. The best strategy is prevention. Therefore, cypress should not be planted fungus-infected areas. Too watered soil or poor drainage may promote the development of the disease.

A good way to prevent cypress to be infected is to surround them with disease-resistant trees. The roots of the same emitt compounds that neutralize the mycelium advance. These trees are, for example: Boxwood, ash, myrtle, Aleppo pine and carob.

Funerea Pestalotiopsis: A fungus that attacks young cypress trees grown in pots producing leaf yellowing and subsequent fall.

Pests affecting cypresses

Among the main pests:

Cypress aphids (Cinara cupressi) they are a type of aphids that feed on the sap of this plant determining that many branches dry. The can also be the vector for the transmission of other diseases. Cypress aphids can be treated with with the appropriate insecticide in late winter or early spring.

A less aggressive pretreatment can be chosen, spraying the whole tree with water in which a few leaves of tobacco had been put during a couple of days. Tobacco has insecticidal properties and may be able to eliminate these pests. If this remedy does not work, you must change to the chemical treatment.

Cypress bark beetle (Phloeosinus aubei): This beetle is responsible for a series of tunnels in the bark that can weaken trees producing even their death. At the same time, it is a vector of transmission of cypress canker since it spread its spores from other infected trees.

Other beetles that can attack from within causing damage to the stem are, for example, Semanotus Laurasi o Phloeosinus spp.

Falling leaves of cypress

It is normal that some yellowing and leaf loss occurs during a period of the year. If this loss occurs throughout the year, it is the most clear symptom that the tree is sick.

In this case it is best to consult a specialist to examine what is the real cause of this loss, and apply the right treatment.

More information on cypress.

This article was endorsed by Vicente Martínez Centelles - Founder of the web and director. Teacher of natural sciences, expert in plants, natural remedies and botanical photography.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

17 September, 2021

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