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Propagation and Care of Leyland Cypress as Christmas Trees

Pruning and Shearing

Leyland cypress may develop into acceptable Christmas trees with very little pruning. However, some pruning is necessary to produce consistently uniform trees. Leyland cypress has a natural upright branching habit. Lower branches can grow as tall or taller as the central stem, developing trees with two or more "trunks." Initial pruning, to remove double stems and excess leaders, should be done while transplants are still in the greenhouse. This initial pruning greatly reduces subsequent field pruning.

At the end of the first field session, basal prune the seedlings to develop a 6 to 8 inch handle at the base of the seedling. The upswept branching habit may preclude basal pruning in later years, as removal of upswept branches from the base of the tree may leave large gaps in the crown. Each spring, remove or prune back any double leaders to favor a single main stem. Use these cuttings to root next year's transplants. During the year of marketing, more precise shearing of the body of the tree may be required to achieve a uniform shape. Most growers find that it takes only minor shearing to produce a marketable tree.

Diseases and Pests

Leyland cypress has few diseases and pest problems. However, there are several organisms that have been reported to injure or kill Leyland cypress. Several cases of Bot canker (Botryosphaeria dothidea) have been recently reported in Georgia. The fungus causing this disease is present at low levels on many native trees in Georgia forests. Although this organism does not significantly affect native trees, it can injure Leyland cypress. The symptom of this disease is an oozing of yellowish sap-like substance on the trunk or branches. Branches and stem are generally girdled and killed above the canker, with foliage characteristically fading to a gray color and then turning reddish brown.

The disease is apparently stress related, invading the tree following wounding, cold, heat, or drought stress. Higher than usual incidence of Bot canker in the past year may be due to drought stresses experienced over the last few years. If this proves to be true, Leyland cypress culture may benefit from irrigation.

Bot canker can be controlled, but not eradicated, using the fungicide benomyl. This treatment requires application at two week intervals throughout the growing season and is quite expensive. If the disease is not widespread in the plantation, removal and disposal of infected trees by burning should be considered. Other foliage diseases can also be controlled with benomyl applications.

Bag worms have been observed on Leyland cypress. Control involves removal of cases and application of an appropriate insecticide. Spider mites may also infest trees causing mottled off-colored foliage. Infestations can be controlled with insecticides. Consult your County Extension Agent for pest identification and treatment recommendations.


Pesticide Precautions

  1. Observe all directions, restrictions and precautions on pesticide labels. It is dangerous, wasteful and illegal to do otherwise.
  2. Store all pesticides in original containers with labels intact and behind locked doors. "Keep Pesticides Out of the Reach of Children."
  3. Use pesticides at correct label dosage and intervals to avoid illegal residues or injury to plants and animals.
  4. Apply pesticides carefully to avoid drift or contamination of non-target areas.
  5. Surplus pesticides and containers should be disposed on in accordance with label instructions so that contamination of water and other hazards will not result.
  6. Follow directions on the pesticide label regarding restrictions as required by State or Federal Laws and Regulations.

Trade and brand names are used only for information. The Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia College of Agriculture does not guarantee or warrant published standards on any product mentioned; neither does the use of a trade or brand name imply approval of any product to the exclusion of others which may also be suitable.

The Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences offers educational programs, assistance and materials to all people without regard to race, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap status.

An Equal Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action Organization

MP 350 – Revised Dec 1997

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, The University of Georgia College of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.

Wayne C. Jordan, Director

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