Wednesday, August 22, 2012

'Blue Ice' Arizona Cypress

'Blue Ice' Arizona Cypress

In the scorching summer heat, a glance at the cool powdery blue ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona Cypress  (Cupressus  arizonica var.  glabra ‘Blue Ice’) might give you a brief respite from the unmerciful temperatures. This fast growing, dense, pyramidal shaped conifer was selected as one of the “Best Woody Plants of 2007 “by the University of Tennessee. The University of Arkansas Agricultural Institute reports var. glabra cultivars are hardier than the species and their striking powder blue color, rapid growth and high resistance to insects and diseases make them a good alternative to the overused and disease prone Leyland Cypress and Redtip Photinea for screening.  

As a specimen plant or for screening, the ‘Blue Ice’ Cypress offers fabulous year round color. While it grows taller in the southwest Mexico, UT reports it reaches 15 ft tall and 7 ft. wide. Dark chocolate brown tightly scaled one inch cones remain on the tree for two years. The closely pressed scales on the lichen blue, needles appear soft to the touch. Smooth, continuously exfoliating dark brown outer bark reveals a cinnamon to deep red inner bark.  

Plant the ‘Blue Ice’ Arizona Cypress in elevated well drained sites that gets full sun. It prefers hot and dry conditions but is cold hardy to -5 degrees F. (University of Florida). It adapts to a variety of soil types. Water deeply and regularly during the first few years, but once established its drought tolerant and often recommended for xeriscaping.

There are over 30 Cupressus arizonica var. glabra varieties and several seem to be adapting well to the southeast. Cupressus arizonica var. glabra ‘Limelight’, was named one of the “Best Plants for 2008” by the West Tennessee Research and Education Center Gardens in Jackson, TN.  ‘Blue Ice,’ ‘Blue Pyramid,’ ‘Carolina Sapphire,’ and ‘Silver Smoke’ are recommended by the University of Arkansas Agricultural Division. NC State endorses the smaller and more open “Carolina Sapphire’ for Christmas tree farms as well as for a landscape plant. Many of the var. glabra cultivars have originated in Australia and New Zealand where this North American native has become a favorite of landscapers.

--Jan Castillo, MG '05

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