Tall and slender, Italian cypress trees, also known as Mediterranean cypress, are often planted to stand as sentinels before a country home or estate. But you can also ornament your garden with Italian cypress in containers. An Italian cypress in a pot won’t reach the sky-scraping height of a specimen planted in the ground, but potted Italian cypress can be very easy to take care of. Read on for information about these elegant plants and tips on Italian cypress container care.
Italian Cypress in Containers
In the landscape, Italian cypress (Cypressus sempervirens) grow into soaring columns of evergreen foliage. They can shoot up to 60 feet (18 meters) tall with a spread of 3 to 6 feet (1-2 meters) and make impressive foundation plantings or windscreens.
Italian cypress really does “shoot up,” since they can add up to 3 feet (1 meter) a year of fragrant foliage. And these trees are a long-term investment since they can live for 150 years.
If you like the look of soaring cypress soldiers but don’t have adequate space, you can still add these slender evergreens to your garden. Growing Italian cypress in containers outside is quite easy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10.
Italian Cypress Container Care
If you want to plant an Italian cypress in a pot, pick a container several inches (7.5-12.5 cm.) larger than the pot the young tree came in from the nursery. You’ll need to keep increasing the pot size as the tree grows until it attains the ideal height for your garden location. After that, root prune every few years to maintain the size.
Use well-draining, high-quality potting soil and check the drain holes on a container before you repot. The larger the container, the more drain holes it needs. Potted Italian cypress won’t tolerate “wet feet,” so drainage is essential.
Any plant growing in a container needs more irrigation than the same plant grown in the ground. That means that an important part of Italian cypress container care is checking for dry soil and watering when needed. An Italian cypress in a pot needs water when the soil is dry a few inches (7.5 cm.) down. You should check it every week if there is no rain and, when you water, water thoroughly until water comes out of the drainage holes.
Provide nutrients to your potted Italian cypress trees both in early spring and again in early summer. Select a fertilizer with a higher percentage of nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium, such as 19-6-9 fertilizer. Apply according to label directions.
When it is time to root prune, you need to remove the tree from its container and slice off a few inches (7.5 cm.) from the outside of the root ball all the way around. Prune out any hanging roots when you are finished. Place the tree in the pot and fill in the sides with new potting soil.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.
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