How to Grow and Care for Leyland Cypress

Leyland cypress (Cuprocyparis leylandii) is the result of the hybrid cross between the Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa ) and false nootka cypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ).

This evergreen conifer is considered a fast-growing species (60-120 cm per year in the early stages of growth), generating dense foliage, a pyramidal shape and reddish-brown scaly bark.

It usually grows as a tree up to 20 to 30 meters tall unless line pruned or grown in containers.

Although it is a very attractive ornamental tree, one of its biggest problems is its susceptibility to certain conifer diseases, and there are attractive, hardier alternatives.

The ideal planting time for this cypress, it’s in the fall, before the freezing winter temperatures arrive.


Ornamental use and useful life

Leyland cypress grows into an ornamental pyramid-shaped conifer, forming dense, heavy branches and feathery, scale-like foliage.

It is an excellent alternative as an isolated species in the garden, reaching great heights, and also combines perfectly with evergreen and broadleaf shrubs.

Its rapid growth and the density of its branches make it an attractive option when looking for a windbreak, accepting pruning well to control its size.

Lifetime: 20 to 25 years is a typical lifespan for Leyland cypress, although some specimens can live up to 50 years.

Leyland cypress growth

Main varieties of Leyland cypress

The official classification of Leyland cypress has varied on some occasions as there are differences of opinion regarding its species and origin. In fact, it is sometimes listed as Cuprocyparis leylandii, Callitropsis × leylandii, × Cupressocyparis leylandii or Cuprocyparis x leylandii.

It was in 2019 that it was classified with the official name in the SITI (Integrated Taxonomic Information System) of Cuprocyparis leylandii.

Within this species, some subtypes and hybrids have appeared, with differences in their appearance, leaf color and growth pattern. Some of the most important are:

  • ‘Naylor’s Blue’: It is recognized for its beautiful blue foliage with a grayish appearance. It grows up to 20 meters high and also has great horizontal development. In winter, its leaves generally take on more grayish tones.
  • ‘Leighton Green’: Its dark green foliage makes it ideal for Christmas decoration. It has a rougher and heavier appearance compared to other cultivars.
  • “Robinson’s Gold”: noted for its yellow foliage and is considered one of the best golden-looking options.
  • “Silver Dust”: Has a leaf structure similar to that of ‘Leighton Green’ but with white spots on the foliage.
  • ‘Castlewellan’: It shows a tendency to conical growth. Its delicate lacy foliage is a favorite element. In winter, the exterior of the tree turns golden while the interior remains green.
  • Emerald Isle: It forms bright green foliage and grows lower than other cultivars (up to about 10 meters), making it perfect for growing in containers.

Leyland Cypress Care Guide

For optimal development, we recommend planting the Leyland cypress in a environment located in full sun and in fertile soil conditions, with continuous irrigation.

It is usually planted as a solitary tree, with plenty of room around, unless it is grown as a hedge.

Here are the best Leyland cypress growing tips.

light needs

Although Leyland cypress adapts to most light conditions, it does not tolerate heavy shade. It grows best in well-lit areas with direct sun versus partially shaded areas.

temperature and humidity

Leyland cypresses grow best in slightly warm areas, with winters where temperatures do not fall below 0 ºC. However, it can withstand temperatures down to -8 ºC.

However, during the first years of life, it must be kept warm enough that it never reaches these temperatures. Especially since it is one of the fastest growing conifers and therefore somewhat more sensitive to sudden changes in the environment.

Irrigation recommendations

To promote the good development of its roots in the first years of its life, we advise you to water your Leyland cypress regularly. In this first stage, generous irrigations and a little more spaced out are recommended. As the harvest progresses and the tree grows, we can water more frequently.

During the warmer months, an adult species may need around 40-50 liters of water per week during the warmer months. Instead, in the winter you can reduce watering to just 1 or 2 times per month.

The tree tolerates occasional drought much better than excess water, as this type of conifer is sensitive to high humidity conditions for long periods of time. Remember that the conifer disease It is caused by a fungus adapted to humid conditions.

Development of Leyland Cypress

Use of fertilizer

If you notice that your Leyland cypress has lost its original appearance and is decaying, you can stimulate its development with the application of fertilizer. The granular type such as NPK 12-8-16 are most recommended due to their ease of application and nutrient ratio.

We recommend that you apply between 0.5 and 1 kg of fertilizer around the trunk in early spring and reapply in mid-summer. If you mix this fertilizer with organic matter (about 4 or 5 kg), the result will be better.

Leyland Cypress Propagation

Since this conifer is considered a hybrid, the seeds produced by Leyland cypress will be sterile. Therefore, the Leyland cypress propagates best from cuttings.

Some tips with this way of propagating trees are:

  • In late winter or early spring, use clean pruning shears to take 10-15 cm cuttings of new wood.
  • Apply rooting hormones to the lower part of the stem, then plant the cutting in a pot with a universal substrate and earthworm humus.
  • Keep the substrate slightly moist, moist, watering little but very frequently (about every 2 days).
  • The emergence of new roots will take about 1.5-2 months, but it is recommended to keep it in the same pot or in a larger pot until the following spring, when it is ready to be transplanted to the place. final.

size recommendations

Leyland cypress tends to grow better with a single central trunkl, it is therefore advisable to remove any regrowth which forms several main stems.

However, if you want to use this conifer as a hedge, for alignment, you will want it to grow with multiple stems, to form more foliage density at the bottom.

If you want to limit its height, it is possible, but it will have to be controlled from the first years of life, when the cypress is still young. training size This is usually done during the summer months.mainly in June and July.

Pests, diseases and other problems

The frequency with which Leyland cypress can be attacked by pests and diseases is what makes many growers recommend using other similar types of evergreens.

This plant is affected by leaf insects such as worm and borer, which affect the aerial part. Likewise, during the hot and dry summer months, it can also be affected by different types of mites, such as the red spider mite.

However, its sensitivity to root rotmainly caused by fungi Phytophthora Yes Amillary This is the worst thing for this crop, especially in humid areas and heavy clay soils.

Root rot and canker disease are very difficult to cure, and it is recommended to use Fosetil-Al or potassium phosphite.

When you see whole, brown, partially dried branches, it is most likely a Phytopthora fungus. Act as quickly as possible with the application of fungicides such as those mentioned in the previous paragraph.

In case your Leyland cypress suffers from these characteristics (browning or coniferous disease), you can apply the following fungicide.


Aliette WG systemic fungicide, ideal for lawns, conifers and citrus trees

Aliette WG systemic fungicide, ideal for lawns, conifers and citrus trees

  • Systemic fungicide for lawns and evergreens
  • Fungicide for preventive and curative treatments
  • Specific to combat fungi responsible for grass wilt (phytophthora and pitium)
  • Its special formulation gives it a unique character to combat foliar diseases of the crown, trunk and roots of plants.
  • Prevents and cures browning of conifers

Growing Leyland cypress in pots

The Leyland cypress is such a fast growing tree that its culture in pot is not very commonalthough you can see different sites.

If you prefer to plant it in a pot, use a container quite tall and wideand with good drainage holes it is common to use plastic as it is easy to puncture the base.

Fill the container with a universal substrate basecan improve the mixture with the incorporation of equal parts coconut fiber (improves drainage and water flow) and earthworm humus (improves fertility).

Depending on its size, it is likely it must be transplanted every year or every 2 years, depending on the size of the pot. For this reason, it is preferable to start from a pot with sufficient volume to reduce this operation to a minimum.

Keep in mind that the more free space your roots have, the higher the growth of the aerial part will be.

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