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The Italian cypress is one of the best known tress around the world. Its distinctive columnar shape and pointed top make it stand out in virtually all landscapes and gardens. Mature tree often grow 40-60 ft. tall. Scale-like foliage is deep green; persistent bark is rough and medium to dark brown. Hard brown fruit grow to 1 in. dia. and persist in clusters for many months.

Italian cypress is the quintessential signature plant of Mediterranean gardens and widely planted in the Inland Empire. Its vertical habit and cylindrical shape, in combination with its tall height, makes it a natural accent and feature element in any landscape. It is commonly used in formal plantings, as a sentry element nearby entries, a punctuation feature next to towers and in rows along driveways where it creates tall walls and screens.

Italian cypress grows well in a variety of soil types, including clayey and calcareous. It grows faster with moderate amounts of moisture, but can withstand drier conditions as it matures. Several cultivated selections exist in the trade including: C. s. Stricta grows with a very narrow circumference; C. s. Glauca has rich blue-green foliage; and C. s. Swanes Golden is a cultivar with bright yellow new growth and can reach 20-22 ft. tall.

Water Needs

The Italian cypress is well adapted to all parts of the Inland Empire where it grows with normal winter rainfall and low amounts of summer water. Periodic deep water in summer is recommended to help maintain good foliage character. The chart below provides a baseline irrigation schedule for this species. As shown in the chart below, 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 2

  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 to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 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" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"-14"
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
Foliage Character: Evergreen, Coniferous
Habit: Upright, Symmetrical, Open, Narrow, Mounding, Low-branching, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 40 ft. - 60 ft.
Width: 3 ft. - 15 ft.
Water Needs: Low 2
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: Insignificant, Brown
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Rocky soil, Loam, Clay, Calcareous soil
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Frost, Drought, All day sun
Function: Specimen, Slopes, Screening, Residential spaces, Parks and open space, Mass planting, Grouped, Foundations, Foliage accent plant, Commercial spaces, Civic spaces, Background plant, Fragrant foliage


Organic mulch of 1-2 inches under canopy, but held away from trunk and root crown are ideal. Little pruning is needed if allowed to grow to natural form and size, 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. Italian Cypress can also be grown as a hedge or topiary, but be prepared to prune consistently to maintain desired form. Best planted fall through spring (5, D).



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