2022 | How to Care for Cupressus Macrocarpa (Lemon Cypress)

Cupressus Macrocarpa plants are also known as the Gold Crest or Golden Crest and Lemon Cypress, a name given to them due to the strong lemon scent that comes from their branches. Lemon Cypress plants are a variety of Monterey Cypress, native to the Monterey Bay area of California region in the United States. Lemon Cypress is mostly grown for its beautiful shape, lemon scent, and pale-yellow foliage, to add beauty in indoor decorations and outdoor gardens.

They are mostly referred to as a tree as they can grow up to 16 to 20 feet tall in certain conditions. They thrive in bay area’s mostly. In New Zealand, where Lemon Cypress is a wide-spread variety, they are known as the Macrocarpa. These are evergreen trees that can be grown both indoors and outdoors.

There are two varieties of the Lemon Cypress, one is called Small Lemon Cypress while the other one is known as the Dwarf Lemon Cypress. The Small Lemon Cypress can grow between 16 to 20 feet tall while the Dwarf Lemon Cypress can only grow 3 to 4 feet tall. Small Lemon Cypress are mostly grown outdoors due to their height.

Dwarf Lemon Cypresses are very small and they are considered a perfect choice for indoor environments. They have a unique greenish-yellow foliage, apart from this they also produce a pleasant smell, and have a conical growth pattern. These unique characteristics make them a perfect choice for indoor decoration.

Lemon Cypresses are a very fast-growing variety and can reach up to 6 feet within a year. They can adapt to any type of soil, even if it is slightly acidic or alkaline, they can also adapt successfully in different temperature zones. They must be provided a bright environment to boost their growth, under low light they grow very slowly. They also require fertilizers to boost their growth.

Varieties of Lemon Cypress:

Dwarf pine

Dwarf pine is the smallest Lemon Cypress variety, mostly grown indoors in the planters. They only grow up to 1.5 meters or five feet. They can survive both hot and cold climates. They need proper watering in the hot areas and during the summer while in winter casual watering is considered enough for them. They are a perfect fit for indoor decoration.

Pine Sylvestris

Among the Lemon Cypress plants, they are known for their use as a Christmas tree. They can grow large. They grow very dense branches. You will have to prune them regularly to make sure they do not look bad as their branches spread all around. You can cut them to give them a required shape. They have similar water requirements as the other varieties, so you can take care of them easily. They need a regular water supply, fertilizers, and protection from the pests.

Stone pine

Stone Pine is one of the tallest varieties of the Lemon Cypress plants. They can grow up to 20 meters tall. They must be planted in an outdoor environment because to grow them inside you will have to provide them a lot of space that they will cover gradually as they grow. They are more of a tree. They also require proper pruning to give them a required shape otherwise they will quickly grow like a bushy tree with so many branches spreading all around. They require a sufficient amount of light, water, and fertilizers to properly grow.

Lemon Pine

Lemon Pine is known for its conical shape and size. They are a Lemon Cypress variety that grows like a tree. They produce a strong lemon aroma in the air. They require the full sun to properly grow. They grow very well in the bay area. You can also grow them in both cold and warm environments. They need a proper supply of water and fertilizers to thrive.

Norfolk Pine

Norfolk Pine is also one of the well-known Lemon Cypress plants. They like to be grown in the full sun and slightly hot environments but you can also grow them in cold environments. They grow like a tree. They must be planted outdoors directly in the soil instead of indoors in a planter. Norfolk Pine requires proper pruning and care. They grow in a conical shape and have many branches.

Water Requirements

Lemon Cypress has different water requirements that are dependent on its age, size, climate and season, and where it is planted (directly in the soil outdoors or in a pot inside the house.). You need to water them while keeping all these factors in mind as they do not like to be overwatered and they also do not like the dry conditions. Overwatering and less watering both are harmful to them and can halt their growth.

Most of the experts advise watering them twice a week if you have planted them indoors in a shady place. If you have planted them outdoors in a place where they are directly under the sun, you can water them once every third or fourth day. The smaller plants require more water as they grow very fast during the first two years of their growth.

Follow the instructions below to properly water Lemon Cypress:

  • Watering the smaller plants twice a week is recommended if you have planted a new Lemon Cypress it will need more water than an already grown-up Lemon Cypress plant. Keep the age factor in mind while preparing the watering schedule for your Lemon Cypress.
  • Overwatering is harmful to the plant and can halt its growth, it can also cause the plants leaves to shed. To prevent this always water them carefully. Whenever you are watering them, make sure to give them only enough water that they can sustain.
  • Frequent watering (watering daily) is not recommended for them, as this will keep the soil moist all the time. Water them once every third or fourth day. Keeping the soil moist all the time can attract fungi and pathogens that can harm the plant. 
  • In hot areas, you will have to water them frequently, while in the colder areas they do not require that much water. So, less frequent watering is better in cold areas while in hot areas watering them twice a week is enough for their proper growth.
  • You can prepare a watering schedule based on these factors, the age of the plant, height, and size of the plant, temperatures, and regional factors.

Lighting Requirements

Lemon Cypresses like to be grown under the full sun or a bright environment. You can also grow them inside very easily but you will have to keep them in a bright place. Keeping them in a place where they can get sufficient light is the best place to keep them. If you have a window that opens in the east, you can place them close to that window.

They require 6 to 8 hours in a full bright environment to thrive. If Lemon Cypress plants are grown under the full shade, they never reach their potential height, that is why most of the people plant them outdoors in a place where they can get direct sunlight all day long.

Wherever you plant them, you need to make sure they get enough light, otherwise, you might not see them properly growing, as they will grow very slowly and will also be more vulnerable to many diseases and pathogens.

Temperature Requirements

Lemon Cypress plants can survive both hot and cold climates. They thrive when the temperatures are about 60 F (15-16 C.). In cold areas, they can survive the temperatures below 0 degrees. They can also survive the frost for a short period. In extremely cold areas, where snow lasts for a much longer time, you can keep them inside during the winter and when it is over you can again keep them outdoors.

If you are growing them in a very hot area, you should consider keeping them inside to protect them from the extremely hot sun. If it is possible, keep them in a place where they are under a partial shade during the noon.

Soil Requirements

Lemon Cypress likes to be grown in well-draining soil, you can easily grow them in sandy, loamy and chalky soils. They can also be grown in both alkaline and slightly acidic soils. They thrive when the soil is slightly sandy, acidic, and full of nutrients.

They require a lot of nutrients to properly grow, so the soil must be rich in nutrients otherwise you will have to feed them more fertilizers. You can grow them in soil that contains sand, compost, pebbles, pumice, and perlite. If you want to boost the growth of your plant during the early days of the plantation, you can also mix a fertilizer within the potting soil.

Common Diseases and Pests Control

Here are a few common problems, diseases, and pests that can attack your Lemon Cypress and solutions to protect your plant from them.

Yellow Leaves: Mostly seen if the plant is grown in a soil that lacks nutrients required for its growth. This lack of nutrients leads to the yellowing of leaves. This can easily be treated with the help of proper fertilization.

Extremely slow growth: If you have planted them in a small pot, you might see an extremely slow growth rate. This happens due to the inability of the plant roots to grow. Small pot means a small quantity of soil and a very small amount of nutrients. This is why it is advised to plant them in bigger pots.

Discoloration of new leaves: If you have planted them under a full shade environment where they do not get enough light, you might see the discoloration of the new leaves of the plant. This can also lead to the slow growth of the plant as well. This is simply treated by placing the plant in a bright environment or under the direct sunlight.

Aphids: Aphids also attack the Lemon Cypress plants and mostly they attack when the plant is overwatered. They mostly attack the sap of the Lemon Cypress. To control their population, you can spray cold water or some pesticides that can kill them.

Alternaria: This is caused due to a parasite called Alternaria. This parasite attacks Lemon Cypress plants and mostly damages the newly grown branches and leaves. They reproduce very quickly so you must quickly get rid of it otherwise it can spread to the whole plant. They can be treated with the help of pesticide spray.

Sadness Virus: One of the most dangerous diseases for the Lemon Cypress as it can quickly kill the whole plant. This is mostly seen during the spring season. Wetness helps this disease to spread quickly. You can control this with the help of pesticide spray. If you have more than one plant in the different pots, you must keep the diseased pot away from the healthy plants.

Exocortis: This is a fungal attack that mostly happens on the bark of the plant. This can lead to spot formation on the bark as well. This is treated with the help of pesticides and fungicides. You can also avoid the attack by keeping the branches and leaves of the plant dry.

Psoriasis: Psoriasis attacks the branches of the plant and causes scale formations on them. It is not a deadly disease but it must be controlled. You can control this with the help of fungicides and pesticides.

Almost all of these diseases happen due to overwatering of the plant or keeping it under low light, damp, and wet environment. If you water your plant sparingly it makes the leaves and branches of the plant wet. Wetness attracts fungi and pests. So, it is important that you should not water your plants sparingly and also keep the branches and leaves of the plant dry to protect them from the diseases.

Fertilizer Requirements

Lemon Cypress plants require a nutrient-rich soil to grow. The nutrients in the soil quickly deplete and can slow the growth of your Lemon Cypress plant. That is why it is highly recommended to use different fertilizers to boost the growth of your Lemon Cypress.

You must use the nutrients or fertilizers based on the soil tests. A soil test helps you identify which nutrients are in the soil and which nutrients are not. This test also lets you know how much of each nutrient is left in the soil.

If you don’t have a soil test, you can also check the growth pattern of your plant to know if your plant needs fertilizers or not. You can check for the growth rate and yellowing of leaves. If you see the signs of yellowing of leaves, you can apply the fertilizers.

How to fertilize:

There are three different methods of fertilizing the Lemon Cypress plants, below are the details of these methods:

  • In the first method, you can mix the fertilizers with the potting soil or spread it in the ground if you are growing it in the garden soil. This will help the initial stage growth of your Lemon Cypress during the early days of its growth.
  • In this method, you provide fertilizers to the plant by creating a mixture of water and house plant fertilizers and then you keep feeding this mixture to your plants while watering. You can feed these mixtures to your plants once every 30 to 40 days.
  • This is the third method, in which you spread the fertilizer around the stem of the plant, you directly apply the fertilizer on the soil around the plant and then water your plant. This method is mostly used if the plants are grown outside.

While fertilizing your plants make sure you are not overfeeding them. Overfeeding fertilizers is extremely harmful to the plant and can cause serious damage to it. You must apply fertilizers based on the requirements of the plant. You must also follow the guidelines that are provided with fertilizers on how to apply them properly.

Pruning Requirements

It is recommended to regularly prune the Lemon Cypress plants. They are very fast-growing plants and require periodic pruning. If you do not prune them regularly, they will grow out of shape. Pruning also enhances the plant’s growth and branching. It encourages the growth of new branches and leaves as well.

If you properly prune them, you can give them any required shape you want. The best time for pruning the Lemon Cypress is at the end of winter. Outdoor plants must not be pruned during the rainy days or in winter, as it can expose them to the fungal attack.

While pruning, first remove the dead parts of the plant, such as dead branches. Then you can look for any diseased branches, you can also remove them. After this, you can start cutting the branches to give them a required shape. Most of the Lemon Cypress plants are cut in a spiral shape or a ball.

Repotting Requirements

The varieties of the Lemon Cypress plant that grow very tall, must not be planted in the planters. If you have planted them in a planter, you will soon have to transfer them to the ground. While the dwarf Lemon Cypress varieties can be planted in the pots and require a yearly repotting as they grow very quickly.

You can use a new pot that is 2 inches bigger in size than the previous pot. You can use the same type of potting soil to fill the new pot and then provide it some water. After watering it, leave it for a day or two and then carefully uproot and transfer the Lemon Cypress from one pot to another pot.

While transferring into the new pot make sure you are not damaging the roots of the Lemon Cypress. If you cause damage to the roots your plant may even die. After transferring to the new pot, provide it some water, and leave in the warm and bright environment.

Repotting is not recommended for all of the varieties of Lemon Cypress; it is only recommended for dwarf Lemon Cypress.


You can propagate Lemon Cypresses by the cuttings and also grow them from the seeds. If you want to propagate them with the help of the cutting’s method, you need to take cuttings from the mature plant.

Always use a sterile knife to take cuttings. Each cutting must be 7 to 9 inches. Take multiple cuttings. Now plant these cuttings in the potting soil and cover the pot with the help of a polythene sheet. Give them some water and let them be under the indirect sunlight for some time. You will see small branches and leaves emerging from the cuttings.

Growing from the seeds:

You can also grow the Lemon Cypress from the seeds as well. They do not produce flowers and their seeds are in special structures known as cones. These cones protect the seeds. You need to place the seeds under an inch of potting soil. After sowing the seeds, provide it some water and then let it be under the indirect sunlight.

The seeds might take long to germinate so you might have to wait for them to sprout. Keep watering them and try to keep the soil moist. Also, keep them warm. Once the seedling appears out of the soil, keep watering them, and taking care of them properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why is my Lemon Cypress turning brown?

Answer: Lemon Cypress leaves can turn brown if the plant is attacked by fungi or pests. They attack mostly during the rainy days and spring. This attack leads to the death of the branches and leaves of the plant and these turn into the brown. You can check for the disease and then try to control it.

Question: How to Propagate Lemon Cypress?

Answer: Lemon Cypress can be grown from the seeds and can also be propagated from the stem cuttings. You can sow the seeds during the springtime and wait for them to sprout. If you want to propagate them from the cuttings you need to take cuttings from a mature tree and then plant them in smaller pots.

Question: What is the best fertilizer for Lemon Cypress?

Answer: Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium-based fertilizers are considered best for lemon cypress. You must use them after the soil test but if you don’t have a soil test you can feed these fertilizers to your plant that are based on 18-8-8 (Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium).

Question: How to prune Lemon Cypress?

Answer: Lemon Cypress requires pruning frequently as they are a fast-growing variety. They must be pruned twice a year to maintain their shape. Start pruning them to give them a shape you desire and also to boost the growth of new leaves. Most pruning is done at the end of winter.