False cypresses are a resistant variety of plant that can add unique colors and textures to your garden. Here are some tips for choosing and growing a variety that’s right for you.
1. Choose between small or large cypresses
Large trees, which can eventually grow to 30 meters (100 feet), are ideal for screens, boundary markers and as a backdrop for shrubs and small trees.
The slow growing dwarves, up to 1.8 meters (six feet), are suitable for foundation plantings, terrace edgings, shrubs and rock gardens.
2. Choose a species that you like
There are many varieties of false cypresses. Here are some facts about the most popular kinds:
The cypress of Nootka has a very long life, up to 1000 years. This species is resistant to Zone 5, prefers a humid climate and is resistant to occasional ice, wind and flood damage.
While most fake cypress trees form a steep pyramid, the “Compacta” dwarf forms a globe. The “Lutea” and the “Aurea Densa” have a unique cone shape.
The most elegant is the “Pendula” nine meters (30 feet). This variety has crying foliage hanging in long streamers.
Lawson’s cypress (C. lawsoniana), native to western North America, is widely distributed in mild to moderate climates.
“Ellwoodii”, a slow-growing Lawson variety, matures to a nine-meter (30-foot) gray-green column that turns blue in cold weather.
Most Lawson’s cypresses are resistant to Zone 6. They may need protection against the winter wind.
The Hinoki cypress, resistant to zone 5, is a conical tree with horizontal branches bearing thick layers of dark green foliage.
“Nana Gracilis” is a slow-growing variety with dark green, slightly curved leaves.
The Sawara cypress tree forms a narrow pyramid but is a softer, more open plant than other types.
Two gold leaf varieties that have a strong presence in the landscape are “Gold Spangle” and the feathery “Plumosa Aurea”. Both are resistant to Zone 4.
3. Plant them with care
Plant small specimens keeping the soil ball intact to avoid injuring the roots.
Keep the soil around the damp roots in the first year. Plants must withstand drought thereafter.
Apply an eight centimeter (three inch) layer of organic mulch to delay soil evaporation.
In warm climates, place demanding plants north or in partial shade.
4. Keep them pest-free
False cypresses are virtually free of pests and diseases.
Sap-spider mites occasionally infest them in hot, dry weather, causing destruction of the interior foliage.
Dislodge damaged leaves and mites with strong water jet from a pipe.
No matter where you live, it is likely that a false cypress is well suited to your garden. The trick is regular care and the right choice of variety. Once you have done this, your fake cypress can grow and prosper.