Are you looking for one of the most cold-hardy and fast-growing Privacy Trees? Let us introduce you to the Murray Cypress. These are popularly known as the modern variants of the Leyland Cypress trees. The prominent features include hardy foliage, quick growth, and tolerance for severe cold and diseases. Brutal conditions like icy winds and temperatures as low as -21° C can do no harm to these heroic peeps.
The lush green foliage and typical nutty fragrance further enhance the desirability and expediency. They are gaining popularity for making quick growing privacy fences and in decoration as Christmas trees. Interesting? Let us know more about the Murray Leyland Cypress trees, along with their care and propagation.
Murray Cypress Classification and Parentage
Botanical Name: X Cupressocyparis leylandii Murray.
There are different views about the history and parentage of this tree. Let us have a look at all of them:
1. The most popular opinion states that Cypress is a modern and hardier variety of the Cypress Leyland tree. The basic features of the Murray differentiating it from the Cupressus x leylandii are;
- Murray’s stronger branches and the brighter foliage.
- Resistance towards colder temperature and diseases.
2. Another school of thought considers Murray as a hybrid between Mexican cypress (Cupressus lusitanica) and Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa).
3. According to another group of biologists the Alaska Cypress (Cupressus noontkatensis) and Monterey cypress.
And a few other opinions claiming it to be a hybrid of related cypress species.
Murray Cypress Tree Features
Height and Spread
- A mature privacy tree gets about 50 feet tall or above. Moreover, it can spread up to a width of about 12 feet.
The leaves of the tree are attractive with a typical Cypress tree effect.
All parts of the plant are toxic and potentially poisonous to both humans and kids. However, we don’t see the common causes of poisoning around. The sap may cause allergic reactions when in contact with the skin. Thus, it is always better to keep an eye on kids and pets to avoid them mingle with the plant.
These cypress trees are long-lived with an average age of about 50 years.
Murray Cypress Zone
Murrays are suitable for USDA growth Zones 6 to 11.
Murray Cypress Growth Rate
Murrays are proud members of the list of the fastest-growing privacy trees. The average annual growth is about 3 to 4 feet. (36 to 48 inches). The Murray Cypress Growth Rate is higher than most of the popular trees used for making privacy fences. This makes them get the lead and the limelight.
Murray Cypress Care
These trees need a medium level of care. However, you have to fulfil some specific requirements to grow this peep. Let us have a look at them;
Frequent watering is required in the initial days especially the first three months. A weekly dose sounds good to keep the plant going. You can check the soil to get an idea about the moisture. Just take a shovel, dig 4 inches deep near the base and feel the soil. Dry soil is an indication that the plant needs water.
As far as quantity is concerned, 1 gallon per foot height is sufficient for the plant. Just be smart and keep the soil in check to avoid over-watering. If you find the soil getting soggy, decrease the quantity of water.
The evergreen foliage of the plant needs adequate water even during the season of fall. The first three months after the planting demands regular watering. After that, the root system will develop and the baby tree is established enough to tolerate the neglect.
These trees need full sun to partial shade. Direct sun exposure of at least 6 hours is necessary to ensure healthy foliage. These 6 hours don’t necessarily need to be continuous. The plant can also go well with 4 to 6 hours of partial shade. However, this is not an ideal situation.
Once the trees mature, they get tall enough to get the desired sunlight without any obstacle.
The cold hardiness of the Murray Cypress Tree is one of its most prominent features. They are ideal for the USDA growth zone 6 to 10 with a temperature range of about -5 to 35 °F. (-21 to 2 °C).
These are tolerant of a wide range of humidity. Moreover, they do pretty well with the moisture level of their growth zone. Thus, you don’t need to consider the humidity levels before growing the tree.
The trees can grow well in any well-drained soil. However, the optimum PH range is between 5.0 to 8.0.
The drainage capacity of the soil can be checked by a simple test. Dig a hole about 18 inches deep and wide. Now fill it with water and check the time it takes to drain. Any time more than an hour indicates poor drainage. The addition of materials like peat moss, manure, and compost enhances the drainage power of the soil.
You can even adjust the PH of the soil by adding different materials.
Dolomitic limestone can help in increasing the PH range of low-magnesium soils. On the other hand, high-magnesium soils can be increased in PH by adding some calcitic limestone.
Regular Sulfur and aluminium sulfate result in a slow and instant decrease in the soil PH respectively. However, proper soil testing and the suitable ratio of the additional product are essential to sort out the PH issue. Help and advice from an expert sound good in this regard.
The freshly planted Murray Leyland Cypress trees love to have some added nutrition. You can use any slow-release fertilizer lower in nitrogen content. The baby trees with under-developed roots don’t take the high nitrogen content easily.
After this initial dose, no fertilizer is needed for the next three months. This will ensure the development of a proper root system. After the initial three months, you can now use any suitable fertilizer to provide extra chunks of nutrition to the growing peep.
To select a suitable fertilizer, you can visit the market or get some expert advice.
You can prune the baby tree right after it gets about 3 feet tall. At this stage, sure you don’t prune more than 3 to 4 inches from the sides.
The growers which plan to keep the tree shorter usually prune from the top of the central branch. This suppresses the upward growth of the tree.
Want to make your privacy tree thick? Just prune from the top by 12 to 13 inches shorter from the desired height. The branches will regrow to get a denser look.
Pruning usually decreases the plant’s energy making it comparatively tree. This enhances the chances of a fungal attack. Thus, spray a suitable fungicide every week for at least 6 weeks after the pruning.
Murray Cypress Propagation
The most common method for the propagation of Murray Leyland Cypress trees is by rooting vegetative cuttings. Select a healthy plant to get some cuttings.
The ideal months to propagate a Murray tree are January to March. Other months of the year may result in successful rooting. However, the rooting percentage will be comparatively low.
- Use a sharp shear to cut at least 6 to 8 inches of a well-grown branch. The branch should be selected from a tree younger than 10 years. Moreover, you can select a growing tip from an older tree. The foliage should be slightly brown from the lower side.
- Now prepare the cuttings by pruning them by 6 inches and strip off the leaves at the lower 2inches. Make sure you keep the cuttings cool and moist. Sun and heat may dry out the foliage.
- Now select the containers for growing. You can even use smaller ones for the initial rooting.
- Use some porous rooting media. Peat and perlite in equal proportion make give good results.
- Now dip the base of cutting or cuttings in the water and then in growth hormone and tap the excess off.
0.8% Indole 3-Byturic acid is a common growth hormone for woody cuttings. You can also use a solution of alcohol-containing 0.3 to 0.8% of IBA. Just dip the base of cuttings for two to three seconds.
- Finally, plant the cuttings about 5 inches deep in the growing media.
- The setup needs to be in a humid and warm place with an ideal temperature of around 20 °C. A misting system with preset timings is a good option to maintain the humidity. It is best to keep them under a greenhouse. However, you can cover the containers with plastic or polyethene sheets to ensure conserve moisture and warmth.
There are some other methods possible for rooting. But those are a bit tricky and not much suitable for beginners.
- After the rooting starts to develop, it’s time to fertilize. Use a 20-20-20 fertilizer in liquid form. A root system usually develops in about 3 months.
- Once the rooting is done, the cuttings need to be transplanted to larger containers.
- Use any commercial greenhouse potting mix to fill up the container.
- Now loosen the growing mix and soil from the previous pot and plant it in the newer one. Make sure you don’t destroy the rooting system.
- Add a little (about 2 tablespoons) of slow-release 18-6-12 fertilizer into the container right after the repotting.
- Keep the setup warm under the shade, preferably in a greenhouse. Wait for about 6 to 9 more months until they become strong enough to face the outer world.
Hardening Before Outplanting
- After almost a year, it’s time to replant the baby trees in the desired outdoor place. The place where you need to plant the trees must have suitable sunlight, space, and well-drained soil.
- Before you finally plant them out, they need frequent visits to the outdoor environment. This will help the plants to get used to the outdoor challenges. Place the containers in the desired place for about 6 to 12 hours per day. Start from lesser hours like 2 to 3 and increase gradually. Just make sure you bring them in to save the vulnerable roots from freezing.
- Or you can simply buy potted trees from your local nursery or online and plant them directly. This will save you from all the hassle which is quite tricky for beginners.
- The ideal time to outplant them is in their dormancy which is about 6 weeks prior to the frost. Or you can plant them in spring to avoid the risks of freezing. Moreover, you can plant them in other seasons but the success rate usually decreases.
- Remove all the weeds from the surroundings.
- Dig a hole larger than the size of the container.
- Loose the soil gently from the container and plant it in the soil.
- Use cover soil to cover the pit.
- Now use a tiller to loosen the soil around the tree at a radius of about 6 feet. This will enhance the water absorption for the roots in the future.
- If the tree is feeble, you can use a wooden stand and a cover around it. This will secure the plant from drafts and strong sun.
Spacing for Privacy Shield
If you are making a privacy shield, you need to follow proper spacing for the trees. Each Murray Cypress Tree should be at least 6 feet away from each other. This is necessary to give proper developing space to the trees with a wide base.
Now, you are done with all the hard work and time to wait for nature to do its magic!
Murray Cypress are hybrids of cypress trees with unclear parentage. These have features like strong foliage, lush green shade, quick growth, and tolerance for winter and frost. An outstanding cold resistance of temperature as lower as -21°C is one of the most prominent features of these trees. These are some of the best privacy trees and are widely used as Christmas trees throughout the colder zones.