How to Grow & Care for an Arizona Cypress

Elizabeth Durham — Jul 15, 2022

The Arizona Cypress is a popular evergreen in the southern states. This tree boasts impressive drought-tolerance while also giving year-round color and shape to your landscape. With its many benefits, this low-maintenance tree is a favorite for people who don’t necessarily have a green thumb.

Let’s see if this drought-tolerant cypress is the right fit for your space!

What is an Arizona Cypress tree?

What exactly is an Arizona Cypress? This evergreen tree is known as Cupressus arizonica, and it’s a conifer native to the southern region of North America and Northern Mexico. Many use it as a living or cut Christmas tree, due to its shape, size, and evergreen qualities. 

What do Arizona Cypress trees look like?

Though an evergreen, the leaves of an Arizona Cypress have a blue ice, silvery-green color that makes it an impressive addition to any yard. It can reach heights of 40 to 50 feet, growing nearly 2 feet per year until maturity. 

It has a classic “Christmas-tree” pyramid shape, with soft needles and reddish-brown cones. This cypress tree billows with its layered branches that can be described as “lacy.” An added bonus of this tree is that it requires no pruning to keep its lovely shape.

How do Arizona Cypress trees reproduce?

This cypress tree does not need another plant to reproduce, since it blooms with cones and sets seeds all on its own. It can be cultivated using seeds or tree cuttings. While Arizona Cypress trees can be planted together, it’s not necessary in order to pollinate. Keep in mind that it takes 2 years for one reproductive cycle.

Varieties of the Arizona Cypress

While the Arizona Cypress is a variety of the cypress tree itself, there are around 30 cultivars or different varieties of this tree. Some of these are:

  • Blue Ice
  • Blue Pyramid
  • Carolina Sapphire
  • Glabra
  • Glabra Limelight
  • Glauca
  • Golden Pyramid
  • Sapphire Skies
  • Silver Smoke
  • Sulfurea

Of these varieties, the Carolina Sapphire Arizona Cypress is the most drought-resistant.

Arizona Cypress Planting Guidance

Now that you know more about the Arizona Cypress tree, let’s find out what you can do for planting and caring for this evergreen.

Arizona Cypress Water and Sunlight Needs

When planting, place in an area where it can receive full sunlight, or between 6 to 8 hours per day. You also want to ensure it’s in a well-draining area that doesn’t get soggy. After you’ve chosen a spot for this tree, dig a hole as deep as and approximately twice the width of the root ball. Hold the tree and carefully place it into the hole, making sure that the roots do not curl upwards or in a circle. You want the roots to spread out!

This cypress variety thrives on very little water and dry conditions. However, it will need plenty of water until it’s well established. Once you plant your Arizona Cypress, plan to water it regularly for the first two years. 

Once established, it will require 10 to 12 inches of water per year. We recommend inspecting the tree periodically for extreme dryness, especially during prolonged drought.

Soil Requirements for the Arizona Cypress

The Arizona Cypress is not particular about its soil requirements, but when planting, it is important to prepare your soil. Add organic materials including

  • Sphagnum peat moss - to make the soil more acidic
  • Manure - as a fertilizer
  • Compost - to help with drainage

After you’ve placed the tree in its hole, backfill the hole with your prepared soil mix, making sure the tree is upright, and cover the entire planting area with an organic mulch. Though this tree can tolerate acidic soils, clay, loamy, or sandy soils, the soil should be well-draining.

Placement and Spacing for the Arizona Cypress

If planting more than one Arizona Cypress, allow for enough room for growth between trees. Space your Arizona Cypresses at least 15 feet apart (measured from one trunk to another). 

For use as a hedge or privacy shield, you can prune this tree to reduce its size and growth. Just ensure each tree can receive full sunlight and proper drainage of moisture.

Growing Your Arizona Cypress

Watching your evergreen tree thrive and grow is an exciting venture! You want the planting and caring process to go well, since this is a tree you plan on enjoying for many years to come. Here’s what you should know about growing this Arizona Cypress Tree.

Where do Arizona Cypress trees grow?

Typically grown in zones 6-9, this tree can withstand extreme heat and cold temperatures down to 0° F. Since areas further north reach lower temperatures and fewer daylight hours in certain seasons, this grows best in the southern portion of North America where dry, hot conditions and longer days allow this tree to thrive.

What are some common issues of the Arizona cypress tree?

Though this is a hardy plant, the Arizona Cypress can be exposed to certain pests and diseases that are harmful if not addressed. Be mindful of the following:

  • Webbing that covers and suffocates the tree’s foliage. If you see this, it’s likely that a bagworm is involved. Bagworms will chew their way through leaves and cause defoliation.
  • Sawdust and tiny holes in the trunk. This could be a sign of cypress bark beetles, which bore holes into the trunk and can kill the tree.
  • Bright orange coloring, misshapen branches, and leaves with strange orange growths. Called “rust,” this occurs when fungi invade, and it can lead to problems such as galls and witches' brooms, specifically in rainy years. Cut out the infected area, treat the tree with fungicide, and keep the area dry.
  • Bush-like plant growing high up in the canopy of the tree. This could be mistletoe! Despite its romantic reputation, mistletoe is actually damaging to trees. It sends its roots out into the tree’s branches and steals nutrients. Cut out mistletoe as soon as you see it begin to form.
  • An injury on the tree that oozes. There’s a chance this is caused by stem cankers. Cankers yellow the foliage and kill branches. To help maintain the tree’s health, they should be pruned out as soon as you notice them.
  • New growth turns yellow, then brown, as it dies. Known as “blight,” you can prevent this issue with well-draining soil.

Is the Arizona Cypress right for me?

If you live in the southern United States and are searching for a drought-tolerant evergreen with impressive growth, the Arizona Cypress may be the tree for you. This tree is excellent for:

  • Windbreaks
  • Erosion control
  • Living or cut Christmas trees
  • Landscape design

Take into consideration all of the planting and care instructions we’ve listed above, and be certain you have the right amount of space and sunlight for this tree to thrive in your yard.

For tips on caring for other evergreen trees, check out this guide. If your heart’s set your very own Arizona Cypress, you can also order through our website now!

download block image
Register for our Fruit Trees 101 course!
Dreaming of home-grown harvests? We're here to help! In this 6-part course, our plant experts will cover everything you need to know, from choosing and selecting fruit trees to harvesting, maintenance and more. Subscribe below to get this course!