Silver Smoke Arizona CypressCupressus arizonica var. glabra ‘Silver Smoke’
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Cupressus arizonica var. glabra ‘Silver Smoke’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Silver Smoke Arizona Cypress soon becomes a graceful upright specimen in your garden, with lacy foliage on branches the droop slightly at the ends. It has dark red bark that contrasts beautifully with the smoky silver-gray foliage, and this tree will reach 12 feet in 10 years, going on to be 25 feet or more in height. Grow it as a lawn specimen or natural screen. Clip it into hedges and trimmed cones. However you grow it you will love its toughness and resistance in the hottest and driest places in your garden.
Full sun is best for the Silver Smoke Arizona Cypress which doesn’t enjoy shade. It is hardy from zone 7, and possibly in sheltered spots in zone 6 as well. Once established it is very drought resistant, and also resists salt-spray in coastal areas, and deer. Pests and diseases are rare, and trimmed or untrimmed this is a beautiful tree for any garden.
When it comes to choosing blue evergreens, we all have our personal preferences. Some of us like the most steely-blue colors, while others like a softer silver, with greenish overtones. At the Tree Center we stock several varieties of the Arizona Cypress, and the differences are mostly minor, and a matter of taste. The Silver Smoke Arizona Cypress shares the blue foliage that most of the others have, but while ‘Blue Ice’ is without doubt the bluest of the blue, and grows rapidly into a tall, graceful tree, we find ‘Silver Smoke’ offers a most subtle shading, with a smoky, silvery coloring that has hints of aqua-green about it. We especially like the way that coloring stands out against the dark red tones of the branches and trunk, looking like a swirl of smoke surrounding a glowing trunk. This particular variety is also a little slower growing, and perhaps more slender, so if you want a tree that is tough, drought-resistant and reliable, but doesn’t scream ‘blue!’ at you, this is the tree to choose
The Silver Smoke Arizona Cypress is an upright slender evergreen tree with an erect central trunk and radiating side branches that have pendulous sub-branches. The growth is naturally open, but if clipped it will soon develop a dense form. It is fast-growing, reaching about 12 feet tall in 10 years, and 6 feet wide. It continues to add up to 12 inches a year, slowing down as it matures, and it will pass 25 feet in height in time. Plant where it has room to mature – allow 10 feet clearance from walls and fences, and don’t plant beneath power lines. The foliage is unique, with a soft, lacy and billowing look that gives this tree lots of charm. The bark on young stems is reddish-brown and smooth, becoming more rugged and peeling in flakes when older. The contrast between the silvery foliage and the dark red stems is striking. Older trees produce clusters of round cones, up to an inch across, which are brown but covered with a powdery blue coating. When you crush the foliage it has a tangy scent of mint or lemons.
This tree is perfect for lawn specimens, in the corners of your yard, or as a screen, spacing plants 4 to 6 feet apart. Grow it on rocky slopes and in sunny, exposed places. Plant it behind your shrub beds for privacy and as a striking backdrop. Clip it into a dense hedge, or grow it as clipped specimens around your house, contrasting with the dark green of other evergreens. Space plants for clipped hedges 3 or 4 feet apart.
The Silver Smoke Arizona Cypress grows well in zones 7, 8 and 9. It tends to grow most rapidly, and to a larger size, in areas with drier climates, and stays smaller in the humid summers of the south-east. For colder zones the similar Blue Juniper, Juniperus virginiana, is a good replacement, and hardy in zone 3. In zone 10 you can grow the Italian cypress, Cupressus sempervirens, which has dark green foliage.
There is no such thing as ‘too much sun’ for the Silver Smoke Arizona Cypress. It’s a true sun-lover, and doesn’t like to be grown in any shade at all. It grows well in a wide range of soils, from rocky sands to heavy clays, and in all garden soils as well. The only important thing is that the soil must be well-drained – avoid wet areas.
Deer are stopped from eating this tree by the same aromatic smell that we enjoy – isn’t nature amazing? Pests and diseases are uncommon, and overall this is a very easy tree to grow. Water regularly when young, and you will find that it grows quickest with regular water, even if it is incredibly resistant to drought. Trimming can be done anytime from spring to fall, and doing this regularly is better than letting your plants become overgrown and then cutting hard. You cannot cut back into branches that no longer have leaves, as these will never grow back.
The Arizona cypress, Cupressus arizonica, has a form with smooth young stems and bluer foliage. Sometimes this is called the smooth cypress, Cupressus glabra, but most experts today consider it just a variety of the Arizona cypress, not a separate species. This form is found in limited parts of Arizona, while the species as a whole is found in Arizona, New Mexico and into Mexico itself. Seeds of this tree have been sent around the world, and it has long been popular in Australia and northern New Zealand for its tolerance to heat and drought. The most famous nursery in New Zealand was the Duncan & Davies Nursery, in the town of New Plymouth, on the north island of that country – the warmest part. This nursery has given us many attractive plants of different species, and in 1984 they released a special seedling of Cupressus arizonica var. glabra they had grown, which they named ‘Silver Smoke’ it was brought into North America by Foxborough Nurseries, Street, Maryland, a nursery that specializes in unusual conifers and other unique trees. It seems that this plant could be from the same batch of seedlings as ‘Blue Ice’, which has a stronger blue in the foliage, and a denser growth pattern.
We love the subtle smoky tones of this tree, and its graceful form as an unclipped specimen. It seems that Americans have been slow to appreciate the beauty of this native tree, but they are making up for lost time now, and it has become very popular. That means it is best to order now, because our stock is going very quickly, and we would hate you to miss out.