How to Grow Italian Cypress Trees in Containers

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Tall with a columnar shape, Italian cypress trees (​Cupressus sempervirens​, USDA plant hardiness zones 7 through 9) are a type of evergreen conifer. Often lining entryways and driveways and used as a living fence, Italian cypress trees can reach heights ranging from 30 to 60 feet and are typically around 3 feet or more in width. They thrive in hot, arid climates, such as the Mediterranean, and they can manage periods of drought. Italian cypress trees are easy to care for, and they can grow well in containers as long as they have well-drained, high-quality potting mix and receive plenty of sunlight.

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How to Grow Italian Cypress Trees in Containers

Step 1: Choose a Pot

Pick a deep, spacious container in which to grow your Italian cypress. Consider one that is big enough for the tree to grow into over the next two to three years to avoid repotting. A good rule of thumb is a container that's 6 to 10 inches wider in rim diameter than the tree's root ball. Make sure the pot has drainage holes at the bottom to ensure that water can drain properly.

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Step 2: Use Landscape Fabric

Line the bottom of the container with landscape fabric to ensure drainage holes aren't covered or plugged by the potting medium or roots.

Step 3: Check the Roots

Gently remove the tree from its nursery pot and check the roots. If there are lots of roots tangled together, gently loosen the roots with your fingers. Use clean, sharp pruning shears to cut back any damaged, wilted, or dead roots.

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Step 4: Add Potting Mix

Add nutrient-rich, well-drained potting mix over the fabric and fill to around the one-quarter marker of the pot. Set your plant in the container and add or remove potting medium until the top of the root ball is about 1 inch below the rim of the container.

Step 5: Plant the Tree

Finish filling the container with potting mix, occasionally tamping it down gently. Place plenty of potting mix around the root ball; it should end up at the same level as the top of the root ball.

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Step 6: Water the Tree

Water near the base of the stem and/or at the top of the root ball of the Italian cypress until water begins to drain from the bottom of the pot. When the tree is getting established, it's best to keep the potting mix moist but never soggy, as this can cause root rot. Once the tree is established, let the potting mix dry out somewhat between waterings and avoid overwatering.

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Step 7: Put the Tree in Direct Sunlight

Place the Italian cypress tree in an area that has abundant airflow and receives direct sunlight for at least six hours per day. Make sure to protect the tree from cold or dry winds.

Step 8: Fertilize the Tree

Italian cypress trees benefit from a slow-release or water-soluble fertilizer that's formulated for container plants. Fertilizer helps with new growth, color, and the overall well-being of the plant. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's directions and be aware of the typical first-frost date in your hardiness zone to prevent new growth on the tree from being damaged by cold weather.

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