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Tecate cypress is an upright tree growing 20-30 ft. tall, 12-15 ft. wide. Foliage is comprised of tiny scale-like leaves that are pale green; surface bark on trunks is reddish to mahogany in color and flakes off each year.

This tree is native to a few isolated locations within the coastal and inland foothills of Southern California where it grows on dry slopes within the chaparral plant community from 1,500-5,000 ft. in elevation. It is found in rocky well-drained soils and can tolerate many months of moisture stress. When grown in Inland Empire landscapes and gardens it can be combined with other drought-tolerant natives and is used for screening, on slopes and in background areas.

Water Needs

The Tecate cypress is well adapted to all parts of the Inland Empire where it can be sustained with normal winter rainfall and low amounts of summer water. Periodic deep water in summer is recommended. The chart below provides a baseline irrigation schedule for this species. It should be noted there are several winter months marked by an asterisk (*) when rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water depending upon exposure conditions and size.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Tree, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen, Coniferous
Habit: Upright, Low-branching
Growth Rate: Slow
Height: 20 ft. - 30 ft.
Width: 12 ft. - 15 ft.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Insignificant
Flower Season: Summer
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Rocky soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Wildlife value, Specimen, Slopes, Screening, Restoration, Residential spaces, Parks and open space, Grouped, Foliage accent plant, Banks, Background plant, Fragrant foliage


Very low maintenance plant. Inorganic mulch or organic mulch of 1-2 inches under canopy, but held away from trunk and root crown are ideal. Very little pruning is needed, except to remove drooping branches as they occur (rarely). Be sure to plant in a space that can accommodate the plant's mature width and height as they will be a pain to continuously cut back otherwise. They are often planted too close to walls or buildings. Best planted fall through spring (5, D).



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