Leyland Cypress in the Arizona desert watering

walt55(9b)September 7, 2009

Hello. I have 15 Leyland (Italian) cypress in ground 3 yeras this coming March, planted right along the driveway, on the east side of my neighbors carport. I think the little guys appreciated that afternoon shade! It gets blistering hot June and July (but thank God for monsoon season).

When the trees were first planted, I added quite a bunch of gypsum, as that is what I heard to do from many sources -- local garden club members and the nursery, but I didn't add and mix that much composted mulch with the native soil (pretty good soil, according to a local University of AZ Master Gardener).

Now, to my question..These 15 trees are in a 20 inch wide bed I made, bordered on one side, by the neighbors concrete carport slab and on the other by a ribbon of small, decorative border block I constructed (mortared to a small strip of concrete to keep the stones straight). Upon planting, we immediately installed automatic irrigation. In the summer, each tree gets 4 gallons by fan nozzle drip, twice a week (8 gallons total). In winter, just once a week.

When first planted, I had these fan nozzles right over the root ball, but then the next year, I moved them in between the trees, which are planted 28 inch apart. Did I mess up by doing this? My logic was to make sure I got that surrounding soil watered, instead of the water only going straight down through the potting mix that the trees came in.

Thanks for reading all of that!

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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

Sounds good.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 8:13AM
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Leyland Cypress isn't Italian!

If it is Leyland Cypress that you have, don't expect them to last long in the desert, however much you water them. The summer heat leaves them highly prone to Seiridium canker infection; lifespan in the general area typically less than 10 years.

Far better to go for local native Arizona Cypress, which is resistant to Seiridium canker.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 4:14PM
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Italian cypress is Cupressus sempervirens.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 2:16AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

According to 'Sunset Western Garden Book', Cupressus sempervirens grows in zones 4-24 of their rating system with best being in their zones 8-15. Looking at their map of Arizona it appears that it may be grown North of Kingman very well along highway 40; The Northern tip of Lake Mead; Then the success rate for these is going to be all mostly south of Wickenburg in low altitudes.

Obviously if they were purchased locally from a respectible garden center then they are zone ok.

Best Regards,


    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 8:52AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

link below to pix ....

you said your bed is 28 inches wide.. on the driveway ...

the pix at the link.. seem to indicate that you might be covering your driveway in the future.. should the trees succeed .... FEAR SUCCESS ... lol ...

or maybe i read it all wrong.. a pic would sure help

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 8:59AM
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I had the impression that is bed is 20" wide and the trees were planted 28" apart, which seems too close together and the bed too narrow.
The idea of planting Leylands in Arizona sparked my interest. While they are somewhat drought resistant, the ones here in central Tx. suffer during summers without extra water (at least when planted 6' apart), was curious what Ariz. would do to them.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 4:52PM
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Good luck on these. We have lots of dead ones here in NM. I wish the big box would stop selling these; not a good tree for the SW. I think it is a cross with an Alsakan parent which ought to be a dead give away to no-no status in the desert SW.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 9:54PM
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leylands do very well for me, at least for 3-4 years now. They put anywhere from 4-6'/year. nootkatensis does poorly for me............


    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 10:43PM
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I think we need some clarification on whether these trees are Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) or Leyland cypress (xCupressocyparis leylandii). I think that would make a huge difference on both the spacing (appropriate for Italian; not for Leyland) and their long term success. I can see Italians in the desert no problem but it just does not paint the same picture with the Leylands and I too would be concerned about their long term viability.

Obviously if they were purchased locally from a respectible garden center then they are zone ok.

Boy, is that statement putting a lot of faith in local garden centers! Retailers sell what folks will buy regardless of how appropriate they may be. And having worked in the retail nursery industry for many years, I can say that with a fair amount of confidence :-)

    Bookmark   September 10, 2009 at 9:31AM
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Someone had asked for clarification about whether these 15 cypress trees were Leyland or Italian Cypress. They are Italian Cypress--the narrow, pointy ones.

And I also sure do appreciate all of the feedback and insights I received so far.

I also, this summer, found many grubs in the mulch I put down this last spring (worrisome, for I hear they eat roots). The nurseryman recommended I keep an abundant layer of composted mulch to retain moisture through the long, dry, hot summer, which I did, by putting down 1-2 inches thick, under some heavy bark, to keep it from blowing away. Also, the trees became somewhat loose and rather than tying them, I found I was able to make the trees much more stable by compressing (actually punching) down the nursery pot soil medium around each tree. 2 months after doing this, the trees look fine. The ribbon of concrete & border blocks also has now made it possible for me to flood irrigate the trees deeply--and less frequently and I think this is good for it is training the roots to go down and spread. I mentioned these grubs to the same nursery people and they then sold me some Hi-Yield Kill-a-Grub, which I haven't yet applied because a recent inspection didn't turn any up grubs now (early October in the Sonoran Desert).

I am planning the next deep watering late in October, at which time I will fertilize with a granular 13-7-7 tree and shrub fertilizer. What are anyone's thoughts? Should I hold of on applying the Hi-Yield Kill-a-grub until next spring/ summer? I have a good handle on the spider mites, washing the trees off once in a while with a medium-strong spray of water and an occaisional systemic Rose Food which contains a systemic pesticide. I don't like using this, for the mulch is now producing mushrooms ;-/ that the Cactus Wrens seem to enjoy.

Thanks, everyone!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 6:39PM
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Rose food with systemic insecticide no longer contains the right chemical to control mites. It used to contain Di-Syston (disulfoton) but now it contains Merit (imidacloprid), which has little or no effect on mites. If they escape the washing control and need chemical control, some of the pyrethroids--such as resmethrin or permethrin-- often work, as does spinosad, which is more organic. All of these need to be sprayed on, which can be fun on a really big spire!
If the branches start to pull away from the columnar outline, don't tie them up or wrap them in wire like some of the ignorant will recommend. Sooner or later the tie will break, and that branch and five of its friends will fall down even more! Instead, cut the errant branch off a few inches inside the outline--new growth will soon fill the gap. If drooping is a perennial problem, it may mean that the tree is getting too much water and/or fertilizer.
Revel in your Roman villa look! : ])

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 6:38PM
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