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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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Friday - August 17, 2012

From: Winter Park, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting, Trees
Title: Cypress trees near pool in Winter Park FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in Winter Park (Orlando) Florida. I have been gifted two potted cypress trees that I need to get into the ground. The only place I can plant them is in my backyard in between a stand of non-invasive bamboo trees. I cannot plant them in my front yard as I have a septic tank and drainfield. My concern is that I have an in ground pool and if I planted the cypress out back they would be approx 20 feet from the edge of the pool. Is this safe? If not, how far should I plant the cypress from the pool, septic tank and drainfield? Thanks. Lisa

ANSWER:

Unless there is some compelling reason to do otherwise, we strongly suggest you hold off on removing from their pots and replanting those cypresses until cooler weather, like November to January. Put the pots in the appropriate amount of sunlight, make sure the pots have good drainage and water them.

Now, when you say "cypress" we can't seem to find any native cypresses that would be appropriate for potting. We are guessing you may have a Lemon Cypress. Lemon cypress is a cultivar of Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress), a native of California. These seem to be very popular in the U.K., at least on the Internet, where they would be indoor potted plants.

From our previous Mr. Smarty Plant answers, we found one on care of a lemon cypress tree, from Winter Springs, FL. There are some more links in that answer about outdoor gardening with this plant.

If you go to this USDA Plant Profile Map on Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress), you will see that it is native to California and introduced into Puerto Rico, but not Florida.

If you follow this link to Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress), you will find that is very NOT like the lemon cypress, but that is at close as we come to anything from our Native Plant Database.

So, after wandering around a bit, back to the subject of where to plant those trees. First, not in the front over the septic tank and drainfield. Woody plants will get their roots into that field, seeking moisture, quick as a wink.

We believe that because the cupressus roots tend to be somewhat fibrous, but also woody, that 20' from your pool would be sufficient.

 

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