Growing Standing Cypress: Information About Standing Cypress Plants

By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Native to the southeastern United States, standing cypress wildflower (Ipomopsis rubra) is a tall, impressive plant that produces masses of bright red, tube-shaped flowers in late summer and early autumn. Do you want to invite butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden? Are you looking for plants that are drought-tolerant? Standing cypress plants are just the ticket. Read on to learn how to plant standing cypress.

How to Plant Standing Cypress

Growing standing cypress is suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. This hardy plant prefers dry, gritty, rocky, or sandy soil and is susceptible to rot where the ground is moist, soggy, or too rich. Be sure to locate standing cypress plants in the back of a bed or wildflower garden; the plants can reach heights of 2 to 5 feet (0.5 to 1.5 m.).

Don’t expect standing cypress wildflowers to bloom immediately. Standing cypress is a biennial that produces a rosette of leaves the first year, then reaches for the sky with towering, blooming spikes the second season. However, the plant is often grown as a perennial because it self-seeds readily. You can also harvest seeds from dried seed heads.

Plant standing cypress seeds in autumn, when soil temperatures are between 65 and 70 F. (18 to 21 C.). Cover the seeds with a very thin layer of fine soil or sand, as the seeds require sunlight in order to germinate. Watch for the seeds to sprout in two to four weeks. You can also plant seeds in spring, about six weeks before the last frost. Move them outdoors when you’re sure all danger of frost has passed.

Standing Cypress Plant Care

Once standing cypress plants are established, they require very little water. However, the plants benefit from occasional irrigation during hot, dry weather. Water deeply, then let the soil dry before watering again.

The tall stems may require a stake or other form of support to keep them upright. Cut stalks after blooming to produce another flush of blooms.

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How to Plant Italian Cypress

Italian cypress trees have a fragrant-smelling wood and blue-green evergreen foliage. Their narrow columnar size that can get up to 30 to 70 feet tall works well in a formal landscape, on large pieces of property or around buildings. When planted close together, these trees create a beautiful privacy screen. Italian cypress trees are fast-growing at about 3 feet per year, and tolerant of many climates and various soils, which makes them a good choice for almost any location.

Select a location to plant your tree that gets at least six hours of full sun daily, although Italian cypress trees can handle some partial shade. When choosing the location, consider the size of a mature tree, which can get up to 70 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide.

Prepare the soil in springtime when the last frost has passed and the ground is workable. Italian cypress trees will generally grow in any type of soil, but do best in well-draining soils. To determine how well your soil drains, dig a hole about 1 foot deep and fill with water. If the water drains in less than four hours it is well-draining, but if it takes longer than four hours to drain you will need to amend it with organic compost, well-rotted manure or peat moss.

  • Italian cypress trees have a fragrant-smelling wood and blue-green evergreen foliage.
  • Italian cypress trees are fast-growing at about 3 feet per year, and tolerant of many climates and various soils, which makes them a good choice for almost any location.

Dig a hole slightly more shallow than the depth of the root ball and about two times wider in diameter. Remove the tree from the container it came in and gently shake out the root ball to loosen. Place the tree in the hole, spreading out the roots, and have the top of the root ball about 1 inch above ground level. Fill in the hole about halfway with soil, making sure your tree is standing straight. Water well to eliminate any air pockets and finish filling with soil. Tamp the top of the soil down with your shovel.

Water well after planting, using a slow drip system or a soaker hose. Your tree should get approximately 1 inch of water per week. It is crucial in the first two years to make sure your tree receives frequent and deep watering. Avoid overhead watering, which will not allow adequate water supply to get down to the roots.

  • Dig a hole slightly more shallow than the depth of the root ball and about two times wider in diameter.
  • Fill in the hole about halfway with soil, making sure your tree is standing straight.

Fertilize young trees in the first year with a high phosphorus fertilizer such as 10-20-10, which is important for strong root development. Apply a liquid fertilizer at the time of planting and once a month after that until early fall. Do not fertilize after October or through the winter months. After the first year, use a balanced liquid fertilizer once in the spring.

Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the tree to help retain moisture in the soil and control the temperature of the soil, keeping it cool. Do not let the mulch touch the tree trunk. Use shredded bark, pine needles or straw if desired.

Important Sunlight Requirements

Dwarf cypress trees typically thrive when planted in locations that receive plenty of direct sunlight. Without adequate light, the innermost branches of false cypress trees often die back. Unfortunately, these trees will not create new buds on old wood, so any brown or bare patches created by a lack of light may be impossible to fix. Cultivars with yellow foliage are especially sensitive to light and will produce green foliage rather than yellow if they are too shaded.

There are, however, some varieties of dwarf cypress that need a bit of shade if planted in extremely hot and dry microclimates. Always talk with your local nursery before planting to make sure you fully understand the light needs of the specific cultivar you are purchasing.

Photo of Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra)→Grown from seed

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So beautiful!! When did you plant the seeds and did you do anything special? It's been a few years since I tried and failed grow this beauty from seed. Would love to try again.

May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day --Native American Proverb

Newest Interest: Rock Gardens

Last Chance to Plant Spring Wildflowers

Never mind that the wildflower seed packet says to sow in early fall. Here in South Texas — where temperatures often stay mild through December — it’s not too late to get those wildflowers planted.

Not surprisingly, we’ve had unusually warm temperatures in San Antonio. That means there’s still time to stop by your local plant nursery and purchase a few packets of native wildflowers.

Never mind that the wildflower seed packet says to sow in early fall. Here in South Texas — where temperatures often stay mild through December — it’s not too late to get those wildflowers planted.

Not only will you beautify your property, you’ll also provide nectar sources for our native and imperiled pollinators such as hummingbirds, bumblebees and butterflies. And the seeds that form later will provide food for songbirds.

You can choose single wildflower packets or plant a mix for variety. Either way, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a few color options and some plant examples for each one.

Pink/purple: Purple coneflower, lemon mint, winecups, American basketflower, pink evening primrose, purple prairie clover, prairie agalinis, Texas thistle, verbena species, eryngo.

Blue: Bluebonnets, mealy blue salvia, blue curls, spiderwort, blue flax, purple skullcap.

Yellow: various coreopsis species, cowpen daisy, Engelmann daisy, bush sunflower, clasping coneflower, fluttermills, golden dalea, greenthread, huisache daisy, Mexican hat, partridge pea, corydalis, Lindheimer’s senna.

White: prickly poppy, white prairie clover, native milkweed species, Illinois bundleflower.

Orange/Red: butterfly weed, standing cypress, Indian blanket, prairie flax, Indian paintbrush, tropical sage, cedar sage.

The key to a successful wildflower planting is good “seed to soil contact.” That means applying seed to bare soil and following up with a very light raking. Some seeds will be visible while others will be barely covered, this is normal. If possible, water the planted area taking care not to over-water and wash the seed away. To uniformly spread the seed, mix the seed with sand and then spread over the soil surface. It’s ideal to keep the area moist for about 2-3 weeks after planting.

While this may seem like a lot of work, the display of color in the coming months is more than worth it. The pollinators will thank you and so will the songbirds!

How Often to Water Succulents

Watering is usually the top question we receive when it comes to succulent care. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect watering schedule. Watering requirements for all plants, not just succulents, will change by the season, and even by the week. Plants won’t need to be watered as frequently in the winter as they will need in the summer because most plants go dormant during winter likewise, your plants will need less water during a string of cloudy, overcast days.

Plants should only be watered when the soil or planting medium is completely dry. A good, reliable way to water your succulents is to place your planter on a saucer full of shallow water and wait until the water is absorbed into the soil, then remove the planter from the saucer. Another option, especially if your planter doesn’t have a drainage hole, is to water your succulents is by using a spray bottle. Mist the leaves, and then get in close to the base of the plant and spray the top layer of the soil so the roots can take in some water, too.

How to Grow Cypress Trees from Seed

Forget what you thought you know about Cypress trees, and pay attention!

Cypress trees are fast-growing trees that can get fairly large. They are native to America and are commonly used for reforestation in swampy areas. They are deciduous conifers, meaning they have needle like leaves and cones that change colors and fall off. While these can cause a huge mess, they also make for excellent compost and mulch. (And the cones work wonders in a number of different craft projects!)

Until recently, these trees were rarely considered when planning a landscape—not just because of the mess they can cause, but because they tend to grow the best in swampy and constantly moist areas. Well, the truth is… they do grow the best in those areas, but that doesn't mean they won't grow in drier climates.

In fact, these trees can actually survive pretty well in USDA zones 5 through 10. They may need a little help to get going, but the end result is a gorgeous tree that will give you lots of shade and create its own mulch.

Cypress trees can grow up to 150 feet tall in the right conditions. While it is rare for them to grow that tall anywhere other than the swamp, they can still get achieve impressive heights. Their straight trunks can grow to a girth of 12 feet in diameter.

Now, these numbers are usually reached after a couple of hundred years of growing, but they still get pretty large in the first several years. Growing at a rate of 1 1/2 to 2 feet a year, they will grow fairly tall within a few years. This means you will have loads of shade in a few short years with just one tree.

Another great feature about Cypress trees are their knees. Though the reason is unknown, cypress trees pull some of their larger roots out of the ground. These roots will keep their ends still buried, but the raised section gives the effect is of a bent leg with the highest point resembling a knee. These knees will grow in weird and gnarled looking shapes. They are more common on trees grown in water with the knees growing larger in deeper water, but they can be trained to grow in drier areas by creating a small 'pool' area around the section you want to raise.

So, want to know how to grow one? Follow these steps!

Step 1—Planting Cypress Seeds in a Started Pot

While it is possible to directly seed Cypress trees in the ground, it is not recommended. This is typically true of most trees, regardless of how fast or slow they grow, as it can be difficult to get them going.

The best method is to start seeds in a pot or terrarium of loamy or watery soil. Using a disposable container that can be cut, such as a plastic bottle or disposable starter pot, is the best option, especially if the trees may need to be transplanted to a larger pot before ground planting.

Do not pack the seeds into the soil just lay them on the top and cover with wet newspaper. Set the container by a window where they receive light but won't dry out.

Step 2—Germinating the Seeds and/or Seedlings

Seeds and seedlings cannot withstand dry conditions or too-wet conditions. So, the soil should stay moist, but not flooded. Once the seed has become a seedling, you can keep more water in the container just make sure the top half of the plant sits above the water line.

It can take as little as 30 days or as long as 90 days for the seeds to germinate. If they are kept well-watered and are growing steadily, the seedlings should be ready for ground planting within one growing cycle (about one year).

Step 3—Transplanting Your Cypress Tree to Another Container

If your tree becomes too large for the starter container, you can transplant it to a larger one, but it is advisable to use the exact same type of soil to avoid shocking the plants.

Make a hole in the soil slightly larger than the size of the old container. Cut the bottom out of the old container and set it in the new pot. Push the new dirt around the old pot before lifting it out. This helps 'trick' the plant into thinking it is in the same pot and prevents shock, which can kill the tree.

Step 4—Transplanting Your Cypress Tree Outside

When your Cypress tree is ready to transplant outside, choosing the best location is a must. When preparing the area, make sure that the hole for the seedling is not too shallow or too deep. The hole should be deep enough to cover the roots up to the collar (where the trunk meets the roots). The soil should be packed firmly over the hole and well-watered.

If you are planting the tree in direct sunlight, make sure it will have access to plenty of water, even if this means you have to go outside every day and water it yourself. Keeping it moist for the first couple of weeks to a month is important to allow it to become established. After that, you can sparse watering out a little at a time to let it become used to the drier conditions.

Images courtesy of PlantFiles

About Shannon Bass

About Shannon Bass

I have been an avid gardener for a majority of my life. I love the feel of the dirt on my hands and under my nails. As for writing about gardening, I am fairly new to it, but enjoy sharing what I know. I have written for 3 companies about gardening, from how to make trellis to container gardening. My specialty is making the most of a small space.

Watch the video: Growing Bald Cypress in Canada

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