How to Take Care of an Italian Blue Cypress

by Bridget Kelly

To give the landscape a Mediterranean flair, consider planting an Italian blue cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens “Glauca”). Its tall, columnar form evokes visions of the Tuscan countryside and provides homeowners with a striking windbreak, a natural division in the garden or even a focal point. Wherever you choose to grow this conifer, keep in mind that it requires unimpeded overhead growing room -- at least 70 feet. Best of all, taking care of the Italian blue cypress tree is a snap when it's grown within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7b through 11.

1 Plant the Italian blue cypress in an area that receives full sun. The tree is more susceptible to pest infestations when grown in the shade.

2 Avoid spreading mulch or soil over the tree’s root collar -- the flared area at the bottom of the trunk where it joins the roots. The root collar requires oxygen to prevent the roots from circling around the trunk and causing girdling.

3 Water the Italian blue cypress only during periods of extreme drought; even then, water it slowly, until water puddles at the base. Excessive irrigation attracts fungal pathogens that may cause root rot.

4 Fertilize the Italian blue cypress tree only if it loses its blue coloring, if branches turn yellow or if the tree wilts. In spring, measure the diameter of the tree’s trunk and use 1 pound of 10-8-6 granular fertilizer per inch of diameter. Sprinkle the granules in a 3-foot radius around the tree and rake it into the top 1/2 inch of soil. Water the fertilized area to a depth of 3 inches after the application.

5 Check the tree occasionally for signs of spruce spider mites (Oligonychus ununguis), common Italian blue cypress pests. Spider mite infestations can be managed and prevented by using the hose to wash the tree from top to bottom several times throughout the season. Because these mites are most active in the cooler parts of spring and fall, hose off the tree twice a week during these periods.

6 Inspect the Italian blue cypress regularly for signs of bagworms (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis). A large bagworm infestation can kill the tree. Look closely at anything hanging from the branches that resemble cones. These are typically the bags -- constructed from twigs and needles from the tree -- that encase the worm. Hand-pick the bags and crush them under your foot.

Items you will need

  • 10-8-6 granular fertilizer
  • Rake

Tip

  • Horticulturists with the University of Florida IFAS Extension say these trees do not require pruning.