Tips on Planting Leyland Cypress Trees

Leyland cypress trees, hybrids of the Monterey cypress and the Alaskan cedar, are popular as Christmas trees. Plant them outdoors to enjoy their beauty all year round. This conifer can grow as rapidly as 3 feet per year or more. It tolerates drought conditions, thrives in a wide range of soils, and requires very little maintenance.

Timing

If a decorated Christmas tree is part of your household's annual festivities, buy your Leyland cypress in time to give it that holiday role. While the tree remains indoors, ensure the root ball never dries out. Transplant the tree outdoors as soon after the Christmas holidays as possible in order to allow the tree to establish a healthy root system before spring growth begins.

Location

Plant your Leyland cypress where it will receive full sun. Give it adequate room on all sides to allow for symmetrical, pyramidal growth to its full potential size of 25 to 30 feet wide. It will tolerate a wide range of soils, but it will thrive best in well-drained soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Depth

Before transplanting, note the depth to which the sapling sits in its pot. Mark the ground level on the stem with chalk or crayon. Plant your sapling no deeper in the ground than this mark. Planting deeper can cause the stem to rot, which can kill the tree.

Structural Support

Aucker's Nursery recommends staking young Leyland cypresses, as heavy rains and winds can otherwise knock them down or injure them. A tree that's been damaged this way becomes vulnerable to potentially fatal bacterial and fungal infections. When staking your sapling, tie the tree loosely with several twist ties to better allow for continued growth. If you tie it too tightly, the twist tie will injure the tree as it grows. Older trees that have been bent over by strong storms should also be staked if they can be stood upright again. Stake four metal fence posts, 6 1/2 feet to 8 feet in height, around the tree, and from each stake run a loop of metal wire around the tree. Run the wire through a hose to cushion its contact point against the tree's bark. Give the tree between six months and a year to reestablish its upright position.

Watering

Though the Leyland cypress is drought-tolerant, it will nevertheless grow slowly if it doesn't receive enough water. So if you live in a dry area, set up a drip irrigation system to speed the tree's development. Water your new tree twice weekly. If conditions are hot, water more often, but be careful not to overwater.

Keywords: living christmas tree, cypress sapling, transplanting saplings

About this Author

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little is a freelance writer, blogger, and Web designer from New Orleans. She is a graduate of the professional SF/F workshop Viable Paradise (2006). Recent published work appears at Ideomancer.com (as Nicole J. LeBoeuf), StyleCareer.com and Pangaia.com.