Italian cypress is a popular plant for Tuscan-style landscaping as well as topiary. The plant’s tall, narrow growth habit makes a striking silhouette when planted up against the wall of a home and lends itself well to sculpting in a spiral shape. According to the University of Florida, the plant grows well from USDA hardiness zones 7 through 11 and adapts well to the clay soils found throughout the southeastern U.S. and the sandy soils of the southwestern U.S. One of the simplest methods of propagating Italian cypress is through stem cuttings, a process known as cloning.
Select a young Italian cypress that is hearty and disease-free.
Choose a young branch from the lowest part of the tree that shows vigorous growth.
Sharpen your pruning shears before taking a cutting to ensure that you do not bruise the cutting.
Position your pruning shears at a point 6 inches from the end of the branch. There should be at least three points where cypress needle clusters emerge from the branch between the cutting point and the branch tip. These points are called nodes.
Make a clean cut across the branch.
Strip the cypress needles from the lower 2/3 of the branch. Dip the cut end of the branch in rooting hormone.
Fill a clean 12-inch clay container with sterile peat moss. Water the peat moss so that it is as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
Insert the branch into the moss so that it is buried halfway into the growing medium.
Cover the container with a dry cleaning bag and place it in indirect sunlight in a sunny windowsill.
Check the cutting daily. Water the container whenever the peat moss becomes dry. Keep the peat moss as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Mist the cutting daily and replace the dry cleaning bag when you have finished tending to the cutting.
Tug gently on the cutting to determine if it has rooted. You will feel resistance when pulling on a rooted cutting. Remove the dry cleaning bag when the cutting has rooted.
Move the container outdoors into the shade for two or three hours daily to harden off the tree once its roots develop. This will help get the tree ready for transplant.
Transplant the tree into a sunny location in the soil once it has hardened off.