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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - June 10, 2009

From: dyer, IN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Trees
Title: Evergreen ornamental tree choice in northern Indiana
Answered by: Jackie OKeefe

QUESTION:

Can you please advise on growing Lemon Cypress trees outdoors in zones 5/6 zip code 46311

ANSWER:

At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, our mission is to disseminate information about native plants and encourage people to make good use of them in their native ranges. Here is what I have gleaned about Lemon Cypress....

Lemon Cypress is a cultivar of the California species Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) which is native to a very small area around Monterey Bay. Its natural setting is zone 9-10, low rainfall (@ 20 inches), cool summers and mild winters - basically a maritime climate. It prefers well-drained soil. According to BackyardGardener.com the yellow-needled varieties are best suited for regions with cool summers. It is susceptible to a fatal canker when in less-than-optimum settings.  Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) has been successfully used in New Zealand, Australia, West Africa and the Mediterranean. It doesn't sound like the best outdoor plant for your region.

If you are looking for a landscape tree, have you considered putting in a native tree? There is a member of the Cupressus family native to your area – Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae). This Iowa State Arborvitae cultivars list has several gold-foliaged Arborvitae cultivars of varying height and shape habits. Native species are already adapted to your growing conditions, which increases the chances that they'll thrive in your landscape.

 

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) image from USDA Plants (image courtesy of ND State Soil Conservation Committee)

Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) image from USDA Plants (image courtesy of National Agricultural Library)

Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress) image from USDA Plants (image courtesy of Gary A. Monroe @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database)

 

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