Turn Your Cypress Into Christmas

Compact, lush and evergreen, a potted cypress makes a beautiful, decorated tree for the festive season.

Cupressus macrocarpa Goldcrest’ has all the features of a good conifer – good shape, bright golden-yellow foliage which when crushed smells like lemon, and with enough of a pinelike appearance to step in as a Christmas tree when needed. On top of that it has award-winning status (RHS), so it’s a good investment in a tree.

Outdoors, ‘Goldcrest’ can grow over 5m tall, but there are also dwarf varieties that are perfect for indoor containers and will grow to around a metre in height. Some cypress conifers can grow up to 40m in height, so these are quite small for conifers. What has to be remembered is that they are trees and require as much light as you can give them indoors – at least 6 – 8 hours a day.

How to care for a potted cypress

  • Turn pots regularly so that all the plant receives good light and the plant doesn’t become lopsided with its growth.
  • Keep the soil moderately moist at all times but avoid overwatering and especially underwatering. Make sure to drain the water through the drainage holes to avoid the soil becoming waterlogged which in turn will damage the roots.
  • These plants thrive in humidity. Spritz with water occasionally or place on pebble water trays, as long as the bottom of the pots don’t touch the water.
  • In spring feed cypress once a month with a fertiliser specifically formulated for the task, or use a general fertiliser at half strength.
  • Trim and shape in spring before the new growth appears. Pruning stimulates growth and adds density. Shaping can be repeated every couple of weeks.

Buy a cypress for your health

Cypress trees have the ability to make us healthier. The plants emit airborne chemicals called phytoncides that help protect the plants from insects. These phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal properties that we can breathe in, helping our bodies fight against a multitude of things including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and improving mood. After all, we all know the calming benefits of spending time in a forest.

More to choose

Araucaria heterophylla, the Norfolk pine tree, is also often used as a Christmas tree. They also make excellent houseplants when not in use for the festive season. Having the common name of a pine tree is a bit misleading because these trees are not true pines, and in terms of caring for them, this needs to be considered. They are tropical plants and do not do well in the cold. They like high humidity with weekly misting and plenty of bright light, even direct sunlight of several hours a day. Water when the soil feels dry and feed monthly in spring and summer with a liquid plant food.

Fun Fact

The wood from cypress trees is fairly homogenous and does not have many layers, which means that along with the high resin content, anything built from it doesn’t crack over time and will last for centuries.

These plants are grown by LVG Plants and are available from retail outlets and garden centres.

The Gardener