Available in several varieties and hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness zones 7 to 11, Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) are tall, narrow evergreen trees that may be used to landscape around a large building. Because these trees can grow to 60 feet but are, on average, about 3 feet wide, they are not recommended for home landscapes. In general, Italian cypress require full sun and moderate water.
The "glauca" cultivar has blue-green leaves and is a dense, narrow, fast-growing tree that may reach 40 feet. Leaves, which are narrow and grow to 2 inches long, are scale-like and tightly packed, making it a good screen plant. This cultivar, which can reach 10 feet wide, produces small brown inedible fruit (up to 1 inch). Trees should be planted in well-draining soil, as they are susceptible to root rot and cankers.
The "stricta" cultivar, also known as "fastigata" and "pencil cypress" is a columnar Italian cypress with gray-green foliage. This cultivar is best suited for zones 8 to 10, but if planted in zone 7, should be in a protected area near a building. This cultivar produces small black inedible fruit and is drought resistant. The "stricta" is rarely more than 3 feet wide. In ancient Greece, wood from this tree was used to carve statues of gods.
The "Swane's golden" cultivar is a tall, columnar tree, but new growth is golden yellow. This slow-growing cultivar grows 2 to 3 feet wide and only 20 feet tall, making it the best choice for a home landscape. Named for the Australian nursery that put it into production in 1956, wood from "Swane's golden" Italian cypress was used to build Vatican City. This cultivar may be used as a screen or in a landscape with brightly colored flowers.
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