Leyland cypress

With its rapid, dense growth, the Leyland cypress is the perfect hedge plant. Here’s the correct way to plant and care for this conifer.

Mar 03, 2021 11:01 am
readtime icon 7 Minutes
Growth type
  • Main Tree
Growth height (from)
from 1500 cm to 3000 cm
Growth width (from)
from 300 cm to 550 cm
Growth characteristics
  • columnar
  • conical
  • bushy
Flower shape
  • Cones
Flower characteristics
  • monoecious
Leaf color
  • green
page format
  • needle-shaped
  • scaly
Sheet properties
  • evergreen
Fruit shape
  • Cone
  • sunny to semi-shade
Soil type
  • gravelly to loamy
Soil Moisture
  • fresh to humid
ph value
  • neutral to weakly acidic
Lime compatibility
  • lime-tolerant
Nutrient requirements
  • nutrient-rich
  • rich in humus
Decorative or utility value
  • picturesque growth
  • non-toxic
Winter Hardness
  • hardy
Climate zones according to USDA
  • 7
areas of life
  • G2
  • G3
  • GR2
  • GR3
  • Single position
  • pruned hedges
  • Group planting
  • privacy screen
Garden style
  • Formal garden
  • Japanese Garden
  • Park area
  • Pot garden

The Leyland cypress (actual botanical name x Cuprocyparis leylandii, but more widely know as x Cupressocyparis leylandii) is also know as Cupressocyparis hybrid cypress, as it is a cross of the Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and the Nootka cypress (Xanthocyparis nootkatensis). It came about at the end of the 19th century and belongs to the largest and most widely spread family of cypresses (Cupressaceae). Today, it is particularly popular in England as a hedge plant.


The Leyland cypress is an extremely rapid growing, evergreen tree, which can reach heights of up to 98 feet; this conifer achieves a height of 33 feet in the first ten years, with a growth rate of up to 3.3 feet per year. It has column-shaped growth with a dense crown; the tips hang over a little. Its branches are densely covered with needles, which gives them their bushy appearance. The Leyland cypress has a flat root system and is fully winter-hardy.


The needles of the Leyland cypress have a squamous arrangement, are soft and rough, rounded at the front and shimmer in dark green, gray green or yellow green, depending on the variety, although the shoots in spring are somewhat lighter. A word of caution: The foliage triggers an allergic reaction upon contact with skin.

Flowers and Fruit
Leyland cypress cones
Leyland cypress cones

Cupressocyparis forms male and female cones on the same tree (monoecious). The female cones are spherical and take about two years to mature. They require a strong heat stimulus to open, such as a forest fire. The cones sit on winged seeds.


The conifer thrives equally well in semi-shade as in the sun. It is wind and rain resistant, however it tends to dry out in unprotected locations..


Leyland cypresses aren’t choosy where soil is concerned. The soil should be nutrient-rich and fresh to moist for this rapid-growing tree. A permeable soil to prevent waterlogging with a slightly acidic pH value of up to 6 is ideal.


The Leyland cypress can be planted in the spring or fall, container plants can be planted all year round (provided there is no frost). Choose specimens which are at least 3.3 feet tall for hedge planting. Plan two to tree plants per 3 feet for a dense screen protection. The planting hole (or trench for hedge plants) should be twice the size of the pot ball. Heavy soils should be improved with sand or gravel. Possibly, a drainage can be piled into the planting hole. Insert the plant to the same depth as it stood in the pot. After planting, tread the soil down well and slurry. It is also recommended to spread a mulch layer around the plant. A correspondingly large container should be chosen when planting in a tub, to ensure the flat roots have enough space. These roots are given regular support when repotting.


Cupressocyparis does not tolerate dryness, so particularly young trees should be watered with non-calciferous water during dry periods. The tree should be fertilized with compost and horn shavings or a long-term conifer fertilizer in the spring and summer (June).


If you intend to use the Leyland cypress as a hedge plant you will need to reach for the shears to keep it in shape. A good time to prune the Leyland cypress is after the bird breeding season from the end of June. You can cut your hedge back once again in August. As the hybrid cypress grows extremely rapidly, a third pruning is recommended in late winter. As it tolerates pruning, the tree can also be cut into shapes, however, it needs to be cut back relatively frequently to retain the shape. Note: The Leyland cypress does grow shoots well again after heavy pruning, however you should avoid cutting into old wood, as no conifers tolerate that particularly well.


Cupressocyparis is resistant to city climates and has no problems with exhaust fumes or smoke, making it the perfect city garden plant. Thanks to its fast growth, the Leyland cypress rapidly closes together into an evergreen wall, which is why the fast growing conifer is popular as a visual and wind screen hedge. However, the Leyland cypress is also a good choice as a solitary background specimen, as if allowed to grow freely, it develops a pretty, spherical shape and with very attractive colors. Leyland cypresses can also be grown in containers on sunny terraces or on a balcony.

Leyland cypress hedge
Leyland cypresses form dense hedges

There are different decorative varieties of Leyland cypresses, for example ‘Castlewellan Gold’, ‘Robinson’s Gold’ or ‘Gold Rider’. The very old, gray-green variety x Cupressocyparis leylandii ‘Haggerston Grey’ is also very popular as hedge planting. ‘Silver Dust’ has creme-white variegation.


Cupressocyparis is propagated through cuttings. Approximately 3.94 inch long twigs are pulled from the tree for cuttings, the top end is capped and the needles removed from the lower end. The cuttings root rapidly in a bowl with propagating substrate and a film hood. Only plant the subsequent specimens outdoors when they have reached over about 3.3 feet tall, as before this, the conifer is not winter hardy.

Diseases and Pests

Fungal diseases are rarely found on the Leyland cypress. Stress from dehydration leads to the Leyland cypress dropping leaves. The bare spots do not usually regenerate, which is why it is important to ensure a good water supply. Pests do not affect Cupressocyparis.