The evergreen Italian cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens) grows to heights of up to 80 feet. It forms a narrow column that rarely exceeds 8 feet in width, according to Floridata. The tree's growth pattern gives it the popular pencil shape used in formal landscapes or to accentuate buildings. Cultivars of the species offer various height sizes, and some measure less than 3 feet in width. Once established, the Italian cypress is low maintenance with no pruning or shaping required.
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Benefits and Hardiness
A native of Europe and western Asia, the Italian cypress tree grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 10, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. The tree can form a dense hedge if planted 3 feet apart. It offers a moderate to rapid growth rate. Throughout the year, the tree maintains its dark green, fine-textured foliage appearance.
Plant the Italian cypress tree in full sunlight for the best growth results. The tree prefers well-draining soil. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types and will even survive in infertile conditions. When first establishing, the Italian cypress tree requires moist soil, but once established it tolerates drought well. The University of Arizona states that an adult tree rarely requires watering more than once or twice per month to maintain its health.
Spider mites can cause extensive damage to the Italian cypress tree. Left untreated, they can even cause the tree's eventual death, according to the University of Arizona. The small insects cluster along the tree's stems and foliage. They use their piercing mouth to suck the sap from the tree. The foliage of the tree begins to brown and die under a heavy infestation. Consider hosing the mites off using a strong burst of water every few days or apply pesticide sprays to gain control.
A relatively hardy tree, the Italian cypress can suffer from root rot if planted in a location with poorly draining soil. Canker has caused widespread destruction of Italian cypress trees in California. The fungus is believed to be composed of three distinct fungi species, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture. The disease causes the branches of the tree to die and oozing fissures in the bark to occur. Control entails removing infected branches and surgical removal of the cankers.
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- Missouri Botanical Garden: Cupressus Sempervirens
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Cupressus sempervirens 'Glauca': 'Glauca' Italian Cypress
- Florida Department of Agriculture: Cypress Canker of Leyland Cypress in Florida1
- University of Arizona: Cupressus Sempervirens
- Floridata: Cupressus Sempervirens
- U.S. Forest Service: Cupressus sempervirens