Caring For Leyland Cypress

For large, bushy evergreens which make excellent screen plantings, not many trees make better choices than Leyland cypress (X Cupressocyparis leylandii). The most popular Christmas tree in the South East, the Leyland Cypress tree is dark green-gray in color and produces very little aroma. This sterile hybrid is classified as an evergreen tree and as conifers and results from a cross between the Alaskan cedar and Monterey cypress. Noted for their rapid growth and slender form, the Leyland cypress tree has found wide popularity over a wide range of the United States and is produced in large numbers for various uses. Flat stems of feathery, blue green foliage as well as the ornamental bark combine to make this hybrid an alluring choice for medium to large landscapes. Many homeowners use this emerald evergreen in Christmas tree plantations, for privacy hedges along boundary lines and in wind breaks. It also beautifies the landscape in parks, around homes and across campuses. Because it’s not in the Fir or Pine family, it doesn’t produce sap, so that people with an allergy to sap get to still enjoy a Leyland cypress as their Christmas Tree. Information about the Leyland cypress will help with raising healthy trees.



Leyland cypress trees grow well in a wide variety of climate conditions and soils and are usually available at choose-and-cut tree farms only. This tree enjoys both part sun/part shade and full sun and has very forgiving light requirements. A fast growing evergreen tree when young that is able to attain a height of 50-feet at maturity, it can grow 3 feet or more per year, even on poor soils. The tree will quickly outgrow its space in small landscapes and can be too large for most residential landscapes unless trimmed on a regular basis. Unusually, shallow roots of this tree species can give in wet soil and topple large trees. Caring for Leyland cypress correctly will eventually pays off, especially since these trees can live 150 years.


When planting Leyland cypress, bear in mind the tree’s fast growth rate and mature size as you determine spacing. Roots should be spread out evenly in all directions, which will mean that the planting rate is less than with some other tree species. The spacing will depend on the age to which the tree is to be grown and usually ranges from 4-feet to 8-feet between trees. Weed control is also important in Christmas tree plantings, though care must be exercised because Leyland cypress is especially sensitive to glyphosate (such as Round Up-reg.) as well as other herbicides designed to control broadleaf plants. Leyland cypress needs fertile soil in order to perform well. Regular fertilization, watering and pruning will help keep trees healthier and better able to tolerate stress as well as insect and disease conditions. Newly planted trees benefit from ArborKelp®, an exclusive seaweed biostimulant which helps in tree establishment, heightens stress tolerance and promotes root growth. Mature and established Leyland Cypress benefits from fertilizer feedings of organic-based micro and macronutrients for the nutrition essential to sustain their health.

Although Leyland cypress can be grown free-form, it does well trimmed and pruned into a more formal shape. Being a fast-grower it could get out of hand as a hedge that can outgrow a small surrounding and form if not pruned early on. Pruning is recommended so as to preserve or improve tree structure, lifespan and vigor. Prune your Leyland Cypress when young in order to encourage stronger growth and also to minimize snow and ice damage. If left unpruned, Leyland cypress takes on a tall, broad based, pyramidal shape. Topping and regular trimming of the tree sides should prevent it from becoming increasingly large. Pruning can also reduce certain defects or structural issues in a tree and greatly lessen the risk of failure.


More Care

Broken, diseased, or dead branches are usually removed so as to prevent decay-producing fungi from contaminating the wood in other parts of the tree. Removal of live branches is sometimes necessary to allow increased sunlight exposure and circulation of air within the canopy thereby helping in reduction of certain diseases. It is advisable to remove branch stubs so as to promote proper and successful healing over of wounds.There are several damaging pests and diseases that affect these Leyland Cypress. Some of the most common include Seiridium Canker, Cercospora Needle Blight and Botryosphaeria Canker. Also watch for bagworms and, if possible, take away the bags before the larvae contained in them have a chance to emerge. Infestations of cypress aphid can be rather damaging, leading to widespread areas of brown. Don’t allow these pests or diseases destroy your precious Leyland trees. Sanitize pruning tools between every cut by dipping in a solution of chlorine bleach or in rubbing alcohol and water. Chemical control proves to be difficult. To avoid brown patches, hedge trimming needs to be done during the growing season and hedges shouldn’t be cut into older, leafless growth.