Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Plant Italian Cypress

Italian cypress trees have a fragrant-smelling wood and blue-green evergreen foliage. Their narrow columnar size that can get up to 30 to 70 feet tall works well in a formal landscape, on large pieces of property or around buildings. When planted close together, these trees create a beautiful privacy screen. Italian cypress trees are fast-growing at about 3 feet per year, and tolerant of many climates and various soils, which makes them a good choice for almost any location.

Select a location to plant your tree that gets at least six hours of full sun daily, although Italian cypress trees can handle some partial shade. When choosing the location, consider the size of a mature tree, which can get up to 70 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide.

Prepare the soil in springtime when the last frost has passed and the ground is workable. Italian cypress trees will generally grow in any type of soil, but do best in well-draining soils. To determine how well your soil drains, dig a hole about 1 foot deep and fill with water. If the water drains in less than four hours it is well-draining, but if it takes longer than four hours to drain you will need to amend it with organic compost, well-rotted manure or peat moss.

Dig a hole slightly more shallow than the depth of the root ball and about two times wider in diameter. Remove the tree from the container it came in and gently shake out the root ball to loosen. Place the tree in the hole, spreading out the roots, and have the top of the root ball about 1 inch above ground level. Fill in the hole about halfway with soil, making sure your tree is standing straight. Water well to eliminate any air pockets and finish filling with soil. Tamp the top of the soil down with your shovel.

Water well after planting, using a slow drip system or a soaker hose. Your tree should get approximately 1 inch of water per week. It is crucial in the first two years to make sure your tree receives frequent and deep watering. Avoid overhead watering, which will not allow adequate water supply to get down to the roots.

Fertilize young trees in the first year with a high phosphorus fertilizer such as 10-20-10, which is important for strong root development. Apply a liquid fertilizer at the time of planting and once a month after that until early fall. Do not fertilize after October or through the winter months. After the first year, use a balanced liquid fertilizer once in the spring.

Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the tree to help retain moisture in the soil and control the temperature of the soil, keeping it cool. Do not let the mulch touch the tree trunk. Use shredded bark, pine needles or straw if desired.

Garden Guides