Cypress - Leyland

Cupressocyparis leylandii    
koo-PRESS-oh-sy-pear-us lay-LAND-dee-ee

Ht. 30’-40’ Spread 20’-30’     
Spacing 10’-15’   Evergreen – Sun

HABIT: Evergreen with pyramidal overall shape, moderate to fast growth. Looks the same year round. Soft foliage. 

CULTURE:   Adapts to most well drained soils.

USES:  Background plants, evergreen screen, specimen.

PROBLEMS:   Root rot in poorly drained soils. Not a foolproof plant in Texas.

NOTES:   Makes a decent living Christmas tree.

There are several damaging diseases and pests that affect Leyland Cypress trees. Some of the most common are:

Seiridium CankerThis destructive disease forms cankers on the stems, branches and branch axils causing dieback. Signs of Seiridium canker include scattered reddish-brown branches. Immediate pruning of diseased areas can help stop the spread of the disease.

Cercospora Needle BlightThis fungus starts in the lower crown causing needle browning and then spreads upward and outward. Look for interior needles that turn yellow and then fall off, usually during October and November.

Botryosphaeria Canker – (also Bot Canker) Leyland Cypress trees are at risk for this disease characterized by dead reddish-brown branches and twigs occurring in otherwise healthy foliage. Long, narrow cankers covered with tiny bumps may also appear on the trunk. This disease tends to attack trees that are already stressed by wounds, other diseases or insect infestations.

Currently there area no chemical control measures recommended for the disease in the landscape or nursery.

Q: I have lost about 20 of 50 leyland cypress. They have not been overwatered, i read your book. I understand there is a blight affecting them. I am willing to re-plant something else for a good visual break.

A: I'd plant a mixture of yaupon holly, eastern red cedar, agarita, cherry laurel and magnolia. Introduced hollies that would work include Nellie r. Stevens, Wirt l. Wynn, and lusterleaf. The coppertone loquat might also be a good choice.

Q: My Leyland cypress trees seem to be dying. They are turning brown could it be too much water or not enough? A.K., Prosper

A: Probably too much. When in stress from overwatering, a fungus called Bot Canker attacks and kills entire limbs. Those limbs that have turned brown should be removed since they come back. Then apply the entire Sick Tree Treatment to the soil and plants. Make sure the trunk flares are visible and cut back on the watering. I would not recommend planting any more of these plants. This problem is becoming wide spread.



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There are lots of trees in trouble from the heat and drought this summer, but some of the problems are exaggerated by poor landscape design, installation and management. These are bald cypress that have burned up along Central expressway (75) in Dallas. Plastic fabrics were used at planting, for weed control I suppose. Of course the fabrics failed and herbicides were sprayed. Both techniques hurt the trees. Drip irrigation was used and you can see why I don't recommend it for landscaping work. The solution to this mess is to remove all the plastic, fabric, fix the irrigation system and mulch the trees with shredded native tree trimmings and fertilize with organic fertilizers, all of which will reduce the stress on the trees and minimize the damage that could be done in the future.


Another tip related to bald cypress use is to switch to other similar plants. Even properly planted bald cypress trees will often have brown interior foliage in late summer. Part of this issue is mites attacking weaken trees and chlorosis due to poor seed sourcing. Many nurseries sell bald cypress that are more adapted to sandy acid soils that alkaline calcareous soils. The trees that are much better choices and rarely have the problems discussed here are Montezuma cypress and dawn redwood. Details about the trees and where they will grow are on the web site. Simply used the highlighted links.

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Naturally yours,

Howard Garrett

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