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Italian Cypress

Hi all!

I was just wondering how to look after my beautiful new Italian Cypress trees! 

Also... I’ve read contrasting articles on whether they will grow fast or slow.  Any views here?

I understand they can be up to 30ft 

is it fine to “top” them and prune from the sides? 

Many thanks in advance! 




  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    Welcome to the forum Vicky. There has been a few discussion on these beautiful plants over the years, perhaps a good idea to use the search function and look them up.

    The growth rate is very much dependent on the environment and how they are looked after but I guess you could expect 2ft/yr give or take a few inches.

    I don't think planting them in a raised bed is a good idea though as these tall trees depend on their side roots for stability and deep roots for water, come to think of it I don't think a raised bed is suitable for any tree. Furthermore they can grow over 2 m wide at maturity whereas the spacing between each plant seems to be only around a meter. They also need staking for the first few years to avoid wind damage.
  • Thank you so much for taking the time to reply!! 

    Bit late now that I’ve planted them to worry about the raised bed I guess 😭😂 It’s sink or swim for these fellas now! 🙏🏻🤞🏼

    Just wondering about the pruning now. I’ll definitely stake them and that growth was what I was imagining. I’ve used John innes no3 plus miracle grow pellets with an all purpose compost as I planted and loosened the root balls. Garden is south west facing so plenty of sun. 

    Fingers crossed I guess. Will be an interesting experiment! 

    See photo for how they arrived from Italy bless them! Lots of TLC after being so squished!!! 

    Once again.... thank you for your reply Elfer! 
  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    How tall do you want them to grow?
  • @Elfer as you can see, pretty over looked where we live but large gardens so 10/12ft? 
  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    Just be careful not to kill them with Love, a bit too much compost and fertiliser for my liking. 100% compost is usually reserved for pots and planters as it retains moisture better than soil, also roots have nowhere to go and there is a lot of evaporation.

    I would have planted them with at least 50% soil which would have provided a firmer base and better drainage. Don't forget that they are Mediterranean and therefore don't like too much water (weather here is not ideal) otherwise they might flop. Having said that as young plants they require more water so probably ok for now when young.

    TBH I would remove them now as well as the planter and plant Thuja Occidentalis Smaragd instead. They will grow to 10/12 ft with a growth rate of 1 to 1.5 ft/yr, you can buy 2m ones and probably only need 4 maybe 5, £65 each.

    If you want to keep them then your biggest issue will be stability against wind when they reach 10/12ft as there is a risk of flopping. 

  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,316
    Well, sink or swim as you say! I have two mature ones nearing full height and the girth is around a metre, nevertheless I wouldn’t have planted more than 5 there.

    I agree wirh Elfer re the compost. If you have only just planted them, would it be possible to lift and mix in a good proportion of top soil for longer-term nutrient supply and grit for drainage, then replant them? You will need to water regularly and deeply during the summer and dry periods throughout the rest of the year, for the first two years until they are established, after which they will be drought-tolerant. 

    As to pruning, you can top them, but it does spoil their columnar shape. Only prune the sides to remove any dead or really wayward branches, the growth of the branches is upright so you can’t really prune or trim as for normal hedging. The traditional method of shaping is to wind sturdy twine or thin wire around in a spiral shape, to stop the branches flopping outwards and encourage their natural upright growth form. They aren’t normally staked, a certain amount of movement helps them to strengthen, but in a raised bed it might help.
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    edited May 2021
    They look pretty close to the fence too, what is the distance between the fence and centre of the plant?

    @Nollie are yours 1m at the base ie the widest part? How tall are they now? How old are yours?
  • @Elfer they have 1m room around them. I did want them to eventually be quite tight around the bases. 

    @Nollie thank you for your input also. Yours sound lovely! Do you have a photo? 

    LUCKILY when building the planter we also had some patio built and ordered a huge bag of topsoil so that’s actually mixed in too! 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼 

    @Elfer after all the effort that planter was and cost no way am I taking it down. I’d rather fail with the trees and start again with something else. Thank you for your suggestion. 
  • ElferElfer Posts: 329
    It's a beautiful planter and I love Italian Cypress, if I was in your shoes I'd probably give it a good go too. Life is always a battle between the heart and the head. Good luck.
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,316
    That’s good news re the topsoil in there, I think you will be fine so long as you water well - it’s easy to underestimate how much young, growing trees need in the first couple of years, even drought-tolerant ones. They shouldn’t need any further feeding though. At least you have a good-sized garden - the worst is when folks plant them in tiny urban gardens and expect to keep them at 2 metres!

    @Elfer, yes, around a metre at the widest point near the base, and I estimate a height somewhere between 12-15 metres high (they are planted behind mature trees so look shorter than they are). I don’t know how old they are as I inherited them, but judging from old landscaping licences, they were probably planted somewhere from between 1999 - 2004, but how mature the specimens were then I have no idea. 

    I don’t think you need worry about them getting this tall and outgrowing their space for another 20 years!

    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
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