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Lemon Cypress - Organic Answers Column - May 29, 2024

Lemon Cypress


This strange little plant has become popular lately so I thought we should do a column and add it to the Library of our website.


COMMON NAME:   Lemon cypress, Goldcrest Monterey cypress
BOTANICAL NAME:   Cupressus macrocarpa
SYNONYMS:    Hesperocyparis macrocarpa
FAMILY:   Cupressaceae
MATURE SIZE:   10 ft. tall, 2-3 ft. wide
SUN EXPOSURE:   Full, partial
SOIL TYPE:   Sandy, well-drained
SOIL pH:   Neutral
NATIVE AREA:   North America


Culture: Easy plant to care for in full sun to partial shade. Not very picky about the soil. Planting this tree in soil that is too rich is not recommended. It grows in poor, sandy, well-draining soils that are low in organics and not very fertile. This infertile soil allows the slow-growing tree to pace its development to match its height with its roots.

Water new plants weekly until established. Some pruning needed if you want to keep its size down, or yearly trimming if using it as a hedge. Little fertilizing is needed.

Best used in its natural, untrimmed, slow-growing upright shape. The only regular pruning maintenance required is when it is used as a hedge or as a bonsai or topiary. This shrub, like most conifers, does not take well to hard pruning.

Temperatures above 80 degrees F in dry areas will tax the plant, while temperatures lower than 20 degrees F may cause tree damage or death. Even when grown in a temperature range where it can be grown outdoors, cold winter winds burn the needles so the tree needs some protection. Below USDA zone 7, lemon cypress is best grown in a container and brought indoors during the winter.


Uses: Use as a specimen, as a screening plant or a hedge. As a houseplant, give it a thorough deep watering weekly, ensuring the soil is never too dry. Needles exude a light citrus fragrance when touched or crushed.


Pests & Plant Diseases: Sometimes prone to attacks by aphids, mealybugs, caterpillars, and scale insects. These usually don't affect the overall health of the tree and can be controlled with garlic pepper tea or insecticidal soap.

A more serious problem is coryneum canker, a fungus that can kill the tree. To keep it under control, remove infected branches and apply the Sick Tree Treatment.

After pruning a potted lemon cypress, you might notice that the tips of the pruned branches turn brown. That is natural and the brown spots should be disguised in due time by new bushy growth.


Lemon cypress 'Goldcrest Wilma' - photos Oregon State University Extension 


Types of Lemon Cypress: In addition to the straight species, Cupressus macrocarpa, a few cultivars of Monterey cypress are available.

C. macrocarpa 'Goldcrest Wilma' is a slow-growing dwarf cultivar, 6 to 8 ft. tall, and 1 to 2 ft. wide, with fragrant, golden yellow needles

C. macrocarpa 'Golden Pillar' has golden yellow needles when grown a sunny location, and a mature size of 20 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide

C. macrocarpa 'Citriodora' is a slow-growing cultivar that can reach 15 to 30 ft. in height. New growth is bright yellow and turns deep green in the first year.


For more information about the many names of this New World cypress, see the Synonyms list at Wikipedia






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