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How to Prune an Italian Cypress

allee de cypres image by Beatrice Preve from

The Italian cypress is a column-shaped evergreen that has the ability to grow to a height of 80 feet with a spread of 8 feet when allowed to grow naturally. Pruning the Italian cypress will keep the branches to a manageable length and prevent damage from wind and elements that are hard on the limbs. Italian cypress trees grow quickly, with the ability to add 3 feet in height each year without pruning. Prune the tree branches in late winter to early spring while the tree is still dormant.

Shape the tree by clipping off terminal buds during the first growing season to prevent heavy growth. Terminal buds are new, soft buds that appear on the end of the branches.

Prune to remove or shorten long branches in early spring that show signs of winter damage or are drooping from weakness. Remove the branch at a joint on one of the main stems where a strong, healthy branch is growing.

Prune to remove a portion of the top of the Italian cypress tree to limit the height of the tree while it is still in the dormant stage. Use a hedge clipper to shape the foliage on the top of the tree after pruning the branches. Repeat this process each year to maintain a desired height.


Use caution while pruning the Italian cypress so you prune and remove no more than 25 percent of the tree each year. Excess pruning stresses the tree, which makes it susceptible to disease.

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