Cupressus glabra blue ice - can I prune to manage size?

chrisWVApril 11, 2011

I have a gorgeous blue ice cyprus that the tag said would grow to 15-20 feet tall, 4-6 feet wide. The tree has grown rapidly and is now at the upper end of those dimensions - it's just 10 years old. The tree is in a courtyard area where it can't get too much taller or broader. How can I prune it to keep it a manageable size? Should I snip the central leader or will I just get a forked tree? Should I shorten the branches? Should I snip back some of the branches all the way to the trunk to thin it up?

I love this tree and need advice. Thanks!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

and in 10 more years .. it will be twice as big.. darn things never stop growing ....

frankly chris .... go buy another babe ... plant it a few feet away ...

and then get rid of this monster ...

it breaks my heart to think of your pruning up a gorgeous tree to enforce your preconception of its size ...

how's that for looking outside your box .. lol ...

get a year or two more from it.. while the babe gets going.. and then sacrifice it to the green man ...

in the alternative .... plant the babe.. while you give this thing repeated hair cuts ... so that in a few years.. when your are thoroughly disappointed with the result.. you will be ahead on the replacement ...

welcome to GW ....


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 4:33PM
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There is a book out called Niwaki that gets into the details of pruning and shaping conifers.

Basically, it is possible to keep your tree at a manageable size. People do it all the time, it's no big deal. ;)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 11:48PM
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I've also read descriptions that Blue Ice didn't get too tall. I wondered about that as in the wild, Arizona Cypress hit 70'+ if there's any moisture around. There are old Arizona Cypress in Waco that are at the 50-60' height, and a fair amount of others in the 30'-40' range.
If you are watering this tree at all, stop. If your roof drains into courtyard can you put in gutters and direct rain away from tree/courtyard? Have you considered beginning to remove the lower limbs and living under it?
Carolina Sapphire Arizona Cypress lends itself more to pruning than does Blue Ice, which has a strong tendency for a dominant single leader. Don't know about Carolina's cold resistance however. Once you start pruning, you will need to do it periodically. Good luck whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:51AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

except, sluice.. training a tree .. like a child.. should start early ...

once its too big.. its going to be real hard getting it back..

dont get me wrong.. it would be an interesting experiment.. but have the babe growing.. while you fool around ....


    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 2:10PM
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Ken, I didn't say it requires training, as if to make a lollipop on a wavy stick! The tree has already grown to size, and the goal now is to keep it from getting broader or taller. Maintenance pruning should do the trick.

That said, I appreciate that some folks are against pruning to keep a tree size to scale.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 11:10AM
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Thanks for the feedback. I will check out the Niwaki book and mull over the option of trying my hand at pruning the overgrown child. At the worst, it will look bad, I'll yank it out and hopefully will have learned something about pruning in the meantime.
My courtyard will yearn for a replacement, albeit smaller in size. Any suggestions as to a conifer that won't get bigger than 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide? I'm in zone 6 and the courtyard faces south - it's a protected, warm location. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 12:38PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

he said: The tree is in a courtyard area where it can't get too much taller

so sluice.. i read that to mean he cant just slow it down.. he has to reduce it back ...

if it grows 2 to 3 feet per year.. and he has 2 feet of room remaining .. its a non starter.. he has to go back .. and then.. truncate this years growth ... and i am suggesting.. though it might be a fun experiment to see if he or me.. or you .. can do it ... in the long run.. IT DOESNT FIT ...

at the link.. mature height of 30 feet [yeah right] ... but at 2 to 3 feet per year.. i have no idea why it would stop growing ...

chris.. plant tags ... size estimates are usually at 10 years .... unfortunately .... they continue at the annual growth rate .. usually for the rest of your life .. and sometimes for a century thereafter ... some do slow down.. but being trees.. they just keep on truckin ...

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: The Arizona Cypress

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 12:39PM
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