The Italian Cypress Tree

The Italian Cypress tree

Last updated on April 5th, 2024 at 10:23 am

The Italian Cypress tree (Cupressus sempervirens) care and information.  This tree is a conifer meaning evergreen foliage it will grow up to 80 ft. tall and about 3-4 ft. wide.  I’ve seen this tree in many landscaping scenes from new homes to state and city landscapes.  But oftentimes newly planted ones will die due to improper care.  Most homeowners and landscapers think “plant it and forget it”.

Yes, it is true this tree is a fast-growing, drought-tolerant conifer that will liven up almost any type of landscape.  But there are some things to consider and do before deciding if this is the right tree for your landscaping needs.

Italian Cypress Tree Drought Tolerant?

Yes, the Italian Cypress tree is drought tolerant but it takes them about 3-4 years after initial planting before the roots become well established.  They are susceptible to spider mites and other types of insects.  More about this further down this post.

They can tolerate temperatures down to about 10 ° Fahrenheit but best to cover them during the mid-winter seasons.  Consistent temperatures below this and the tree will not survive.

These trees produce seed cones that are about 1 inch wide and long.  They are considered monoecious which means both the male and female will produce seeds. Yes, these seeds can be used to grow seedlings.  Here is a good article on how to get Italian Cypress trees to germinate from seeds.

Plant them in full sun for the best results

They can tolerate some shade but they need over 6 hrs. of sunlight anything less than that and they will look scraggly.  Italian Cypress requires very little pruning thus less maintenance or cleaning up.  After about 50 years of growth, the tree will get much wider up to 8 maybe 10 ft. wide.  Once they get established you can trim them at the desired height.  If you cut them at 8 ft. they will stay at that height for 3-4 years.  They will tend to grow wider when trimmed at that length.

Problems with the Italian Cypress tree

It is susceptible to spider mites and Bagworm.  These insects love conifer trees, especially cypress trees.  One organic way to keep these insects from chewing it up is to water the tree from the top down.  This will wash away the spider mites and their nests.  Neem oil is an organic insect and fungus control insecticide that works well on all types of Cypress trees.  Check your tree often during its first years of growth.


The Italian Cypress tree
Spider mite webbing on the Italian Cypress tree

Best Way to Kill Spider Mites on Italian Cypress Trees

Italian Cypress tree spraying with water
Spray Your Italian tree with a strong stream of water.  This will help keep spider mites from destroying your trees. 


Temperatures below 10 ° F. will start to stress-causing the needles to dry out and fall. Once all the tree foliage turns brittle it will not regenerate new growth it is a goner.  Sometimes, only the top portion of the tree will turn brown and the foliage will fall off giving it a bare-spot effect.  See the image below.


Italian Cypress trees
Tips of the Italian Cypress were damaged due to consistent temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Too much water is another problem.  It will develop root rot if the soil stays wet for too long.  Your soil must drain well.  If your soil is caliche or hard it is best to amend the area with well-composted soil.  Most Cypress trees can develop needle blight if watering is not properly done.  It is best to use a good drip system on Cypress trees to adjust the watering according to the weather.

Where to plant Italian Cypress trees

The tree will go great in a Mediterranean or desert-style landscape.  Plant several in a row for a great border landscaping wall.  Or plant two in front of an entrance to a home.  Remember to give them room to grow the first 30 years of their life the width will be about 3-4 wide.  But too close to a wall and the tree will become bare on the side facing the wall.  It needs lots of sunshine all the way around!

It also will look great in a Xeriscape design as it can tolerate the dry heat in the southwest.  Learn more about types of landscape design here.

Italian Cypress trees
Italian Cypress trees in the courtyard and below are purple Verbena plants for color.


Nice Italian Cypress trees alongside a pool. Perfect for a border screen.

There is also the Blue Italian Cypress Glauca.  It is basically the same growth and height as the normal green variety. However, the foliage does have a bluish color thus its botanical name. You can see a photo of this tree on

The USDA hardiness zone for these trees is 7-11.

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