Cypress Trees: Types and Care

Find out how to grow and care for cypress trees and discover the varieties available in this handy HGTV guide.

March 25, 2020

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Colorful flowers growing in the landscaped garden with formal flower beds and evergreen  near neat green lawn, the glare and flare.

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Colorful flowers growing in the landscaped garden with formal flower beds and evergreen near neat green lawn, the glare and flare.

Photo by: GettyImages/Claire Lucia

GettyImages/Claire Lucia

Botanically speaking, the common name cypress can be a bit overwhelming. The cypress family, Cupressaceae, includes a diverse array of more than 140 species of cone-bearing trees throughout the world's temperate regions. Some of the members' common names do not include the name "cypress," while other trees called cypress are unrelated to this group. Read on to learn about a few of the most popular cypress trees in American gardens.

Types of Cypress Tree

If you are searching for an attractive, versatile conifer for your landscape, look no further than the cypress family. Bald cypress, hinoki cypress and arborvitae are just a few of the many great cypress trees you will easily find at your local nursery.

Bald Cypress

Taxodium distichum Bald Cypress

Taxodium distichum, commonly called bald cypress, is a long-lived, pyramidal conifer.

Photo by: Shutterstock/zzz555zzz

Shutterstock/zzz555zzz

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum):

  • Zone: 4-9
  • Height: 50' to 70'
  • Spread: 20' to 45'
  • Bloom Time: Non-flowering
  • Sun: Full sun
  • Water: Medium to wet
Hinoki false cypress

Slender Hinoki False Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Gracilis’)

Meet the evergreen tree that’s suitable for any size yard. This slender beauty grows to 15 feet with a spread of only 5 feet. The arching branches offer an elegant appearance, especially with the drooping tips. Why we love it: It brings grace and beauty to the landscape in a plant that fits most front yards.

Photo by: DoreenWynja.com photographer for Monrovia

DoreenWynja.com photographer for Monrovia

Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa):

  • Zone: 4-8
  • Height: 50' to 75'
  • Spread: 15' to 25'
  • Bloom Time: Non-flowering
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Water: Medium
Thujas in a row background.

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Thujas in a row background.

Photo by: GettyImages/Mariusz Blach

GettyImages/Mariusz Blach

Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis):

  • Zone: 2-7
  • Height: 20' to 40'
  • Spread: 10' to 15'
  • Bloom Time: Non-flowering
  • Sun: Full sun to part shade
  • Water: Medium

How to Use Cypress Trees in the Landscape

With the sheer variety of colors, shapes and sizes of cypress trees that are available, the possibilities are plentiful. Bald cypress is a gorgeous shade tree for larger landscapes, with the added benefit of beautiful golden bronze fall color and handsome branch structure that shows off its red-brown exfoliating bark in winter. Hinoki cypress is available in a multitude of cultivars that truly showcase the variation among colors, sizes and textures of the cypress family. It makes a fine formal or informal specimen tree. Arborvitae provides a vertical accent for foundation plantings or a tall hedge for formal gardens.

How to Grow Cypress Trees

Cypress trees grow best in full sun, at least eight hours per day. They do not require nutrient-rich soils. They perform best on moist, well-drained soils. The notable exception within this list is the famous swamp dweller, bald cypress, which survives flooded conditions for extended periods of time.

Propagating Cypress Trees

Homeowners achieve the best results by simply purchasing a new tree from the local nursery. Professional growers use grafting techniques to quickly and efficiently propagate slow-growing cypress trees for the nursery industry. Grafting is the practice of cutting a young branch from the desired parent plant and joining it to a root cutting. When the graft union heals, it results in a clone of the parent. The new plant needs to grow in containers for at least a season before planting in the ground.

How to Care for Cypress Trees

Proper siting and planting are the keys to success for a young cypress tree. The location must offer plenty of sunshine, now and in the future. Avoid sites where well-established trees may later shade out the young cypress. Provide young cypress trees a boost by fertilizing at the beginning of each growing season. Maintain consistent soil moisture by watering during dry spells. Although plenty of sun and good air circulation are great pest preventatives, watch for pests like aphids, bagworms and scale and treat with an appropriate insecticide or miticide if the need arises.

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