The Lemon Cypress is a familiar little evergreen that people might recognize as the chartreuse Christmas trees that seem to show up in every big box retail store during the holidays. However, this citrusy-looking tree should be considered as more than just a one-season-a-year plant.
Of course, the lemon cypress gets its name from the light citrus fragrance the needles express when touched or crushed. This sensory trifecta of sight, smell, and touch makes the tree a perfect candidate to include in a sensory garden.
Lemon Cypress Care
One of the great things about C. macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest’ is that it is an easy plant to care for in the outdoors. The only maintenance required will be some pruning if you want to keep its size down or yearly trimming if using it as a hedge.
Whether planning to keep the lemon cypress outdoors or as an indoor plant, it requires a good amount of light. It will thrive in full sun to partial shade outdoors or direct sun indoors five to six hours a day. If keeping the plant as a houseplant, too little light will quickly kill the plant.
Planting this tree in soil that is too rich invites trouble. The lemon cypress is adapted to grow in poor, sandy, well-draining soils that are low in organics and not very fertile. This infertile soil allows the slow-growing tree to pace its development to match its height with its roots, helping to ensure that winds do not blow the thin and narrow plant over.
If keeping the lemon cypress in a container, it should be repotted once every three to four years. Move it to a larger pot and give it some fresh soil. Prune your plant’s roots conservatively to keep growth in check while repotting.
As an outdoor shrub or tree, once established, the lemon cypress needs little supplemental watering. To allow the plant to establish itself, water once a week during the first season.
If kept as a houseplant, be sure to give a thorough deep watering once weekly, being sure never to let the soil be too dry.
Temperature and Humidity
A lemon cypress prefers cool, moist climates. Temperatures above 80oF in dry areas will tax the plant, while temperatures lower than 20oF may cause tree damage or death. In colder climates, it is best to shelter the tree from cold winds, which will burn the needles. The recommended USDA Zones are 7-10.
When used as a houseplant, the lemon cypress needs to be kept in a place that has sufficient humidity. Keeping it moist during the winter is vital and will be most difficult when a heater is being run or windows are shut. Misting or a humidifier might be needed to help supplement the ambient room humidity.