Cypress are evergreen conifers that often grow very quickly. One variety, the Leyland cypress, can grow as much as 3 feet per year. Although many cypress will do well as topiary, several varieties excel as a base stock for topiary styling. Although very hardy, cypress tend to not do well in sub-freezing temperatures.
Leyland cypress grows incredibly fast. As such, it can be a good candidate for topiary-style planting. Whether you want a stylized topiary hedge, or a spiral- or ball-style topiary, this variety will require frequent pruning to keep its desired shape. When planting several small cypress to create a stylized topiary, such as a dragon or animal, the Leyland cypress works well in a hedge form, but pruning and styling will be needed.
Mediterranean cypress, sometimes called Italian cypress, is native to Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Turkey and Syria. Italian cypress can grow to be very old. Some trees in Italy are estimated to be 1,800 years old. Mediterranean cypress grows quickly with very dense foliage, making it ideal for spiral- or ball-style topiary. Left to their own natural growth pattern, these trees can easily reach 40 feet tall.
Lemon cypress, sometimes called Monterrey cypress, will grow in dense, straight lines suitable for spiral or ball topiary. Lemon cypress gets its name from its color if allowed to grow in full sun. These trees can easily grow to 40 feet if left untrimmed. Their dense, straight growth make them ideal candidates for ball or spiral topiaries.