Growing a Mop Cypress

By Susan Landis-Steward , last updated April 7, 2011

The mop cypress, actually a member of the false cypress species, is a slow growing evergreen shrub noted for its dense crown, symmetrical shape, and weeping branches. It grows three to four feet high and three to four feet wide. The texture of its leaves resembles a mop, hence the name. This plant grows well in the southeastern part of the US and is a great plant for USDA zones 5 through 8.

Mop cypress has golden foliage all year round making it an excellent choice for winter interest. If the winters are cold, the foliage may become brighter or may turn bronze. If planted in too much shade, the mop cypress may become greener. These plants are easy to grow and require little maintenance besides a bit of shaping if it starts to look too shaggy.

Dig a hole for your mop cypress that is twice as wide as the root ball but not too deep. Planting too deep is the major cause of problems with this plant. When planted, the top layer of roots should be just above the soil surface. If it isn't, scrape the soil away to expose it. Then mulch heavily with about three inches of mulch to keep weeds down. Make sure the mulch is kept at least 10 inches away from the trunk of the shrub. If it touches the trunk, the plant can die. Water regularly throughout the first growing season to help the plant become well established.

Mop cypress likes loamy, sandy, or clay soil in full or partial sunlight. Ideal soil pH ranges from 6.8 to 7.2. Soil should be average to dry, but well-draining. Amend clay soil with organic matter and coarse sand before planting. Mop cypress likes moist but not wet soil.

Prune mop cypress in late winter or very early spring and only if necessary. Cut out any dead or diseased wood and remove branches that cross each other to make sure enough light gets to the center of the plant. Be careful when pruning to maintain the natural shape of the plant. Feed your mop cypress with a general purpose fertilizer in the spring before new growth begins.

The mop cypress is drought tolerant and resists rabbits and deer. Oddly enough, this plant is highly flammable so it is not a good choice near a fire pit or other source of sparks.

To propagate your mop cypress, take cuttings about 8 to 10 inches from the tip of a branch during the growing season. Wound the cutting by scraping a bit of bark from the cut end. Dip the cutting in root hormone and plant in potting mix. Keep the cutting moist by misting until the roots are formed. Transplant into a larger pot at this time. If you took the cutting during the fall, the plant needs to winter over. Put it in a cool garage and make sure it is not allowed to dry out. Plant it into the yard in the spring.

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