The tall, narrow shape of Italian cypresses does not cast shade on plants growing beneath them. This sunny locale gives you a much larger selection of plants that can be grown around them. A variety of shorter evergreen or deciduous shrubs and flowering perennials that thrive in the same conditions as the Italian cypress can provide additional texture and color to your landscape.
Italian cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens) grow 3 feet per year to a mature height of 40 to 70 feet but reach a width of only 10 to 20 feet. Their evergreen, scale-type, deep gray-green foliage covers their trunks all the way to the base. They are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 10, tolerant of drought and smog and can be grown in acidic to alkaline soil in full sun or partial shade. They will also tolerate salty conditions along the coast in mild-exposure areas.
Junipers (Juniperus spp.) are evergreen shrubs that can be planted with Italian cypresses to bring a horizontal aspect to the landscape. Parson’s junipers (Juniperus davurica “Parsonii”) grow to a height of 2 to 3 feet and width of 4 to 10 feet. Their stems grow up and out with a feathery look and blue-green needle to scale-type foliage that provides additional color. They are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 11 and are highly tolerant of salty conditions. Creeping or trailing juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) also has a feathery texture but it hugs the ground. It grows to a height of 6 inches to 2 feet and width of 6 to 10 feet. The foliage color and height depends on the cultivar. “Wiltonii” or “Blue Rug” (Juniperus horizontalis “Wiltonii” or “Blue Rug”) grows to only 6 inches tall with steely blue-green foliage that changes to mauve during the winter. “Bar Harbor” (Juniperus horizontalis “Bar Harbor”) grows to a height of 9 to 12 inches with blue-green foliage that changes to purple in the winter. Both cultivars are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 10, drought tolerant and rarely bothered by deer. “Bar Harbor” is the better selection for salty conditions.
Flowers and Fall Foliage
“Little Moses” or “Odom” dwarf burning bush (Euonymus alatus “Little Moses” or “Odom”) and Mexican false heather or Hawaiian heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) can be planted with Italian cypresses for colorful fall foliage and floral interest. “Little Moses” grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet, blooms with small yellowish-green flowers in the spring and has brilliant red foliage in the fall. During the spring and summer its foliage provides course, bright green texture. It is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8 and can become invasive. Mexican false heather is an evergreen sub-shrub that grows to a height of 2 feet and width or 11/2 to 3 feet with delicate, feathery branches covered in small, deep green leaves. It blooms in pink, purple, red or white, depending on the cultivar, from spring to fall. It is hardy in USDA zones 9 to 11 and can survive brief periods of drought. In cooler USDA zones, it can be grown as an annual.
Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) and sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) are perennials that can add bright, colorful flowers around Italian cypresses from spring to fall. Rose campion grows to a height of 2 to 3 feet with bright silvery-green leaves and blooms in pink, red or white, depending on the cultivar. It is drought tolerant and hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8. Sweet William grows to a height of 1 to 2 feet with green foliage and produces fragrant flowers in various shades of pink, red or white, depending on the cultivar. It is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9 and is rarely bothered by deer.
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Italian Cypress
- Cal Poly: Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute: SelecTree -- Tree Detail Record: Italian Cypress: Cupressus Sempervirens
- Floridata: Juniperus Davurica “Parsonii”
- Floridata: Juniperus Horizontalis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Juniperus Horizontalis “Wiltonii”
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Juniperus Horizontalis “Bar Harbor”
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Euonymus Alatus “Odom” Little Moses
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Cuphea Hyssopifolia
- Floridata: Cuphea Hyssopifolia
- Floridata: Lychnis Coronaria
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