Question from Gabriele:
Is it possible to keep a sappahire cypress thin and narrow by prunning? I like the soft featherly look but do not have the wide space to plant this tree around my townhouse. I was not sure if this is considered an aggressive type evergreen that cannot be trained.
Answer from Pat:
Blue sapphire cypress tree a blue selection of Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica ‘Carolina Sapphire’) needs little pruning. However, most of the cypress trees can be sheared if desired. If you want to do this C. arizonica ‘Pyramidalis’ would be a better choice since it is compact, but might not have the color you like best. ‘Blue Pyramid’ ‘ is another dense foliaged cultivar you might want to look at, since it does have the blue color and is more compact and cylindrical in shape. If you prune these trees, which actually need little pruning, you will lose the feathery look you like.
As a general rule it is always best to choose a tree that is the size of the space one wishes to fill. Nonetheless, these trees make good screens and can be planted closely for that purpose. Also I have seen many cypress trees, including Italian cypress (C. sempervirens) that have been sheared and the result is a compact, smooth, look—not “feathery”,which you mentioned you like. So yes you can prune it narrower if you wish but one must start young and then diligently keep up the job.
Let me give you an example. In the town where I live there is a hedge of mixed cypress species that has been pruned and maintained for over 50 years by the same gardener who works for me. The hedge is about 20 or 25 feet tall and looks like a row of pointed Christmas trees all touching each other half way up their height. They are as smooth as if a giant cake decorator had squeezed their pointed forms out of a giant pastry tube. I find them rather fascinatingly bizarre but not unpleasant to see. Raymundo who is now 70 years old is still climbing ladders and shearing these trees at least twice a year. But I wonder what the owners of those trees will do when he can no longer climb that ladder and do the job?
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