How to Start Cypress Trees From Seeds

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What You'll Need
Empty 1-liter soda bottle
Gardening gloves
Newspaper scraps
Duct tape
Cotton-seed meal (optional)

Cypress trees, related to sequoia trees, can live for hundreds of years. While most people grow cypress trees from cuttings, with patience, you can start one of these trees from a seed in a single year. Although growing a cypress tree from a seed takes more work, it can save you money. In addition, growing a cypress tree from a seed is the perfect project to complete with your children.

Step 1 – Collecting Cypress Seeds

The seeds of cypress trees are produced in pine-like cones. You can harvest the mature, dry cones directly from existing cypress trees, or you can pick them up from the ground around the trees. If collecting seeds is not an option, check with local garden centers or plant nurseries for seeds.

Step 2 – Making an Instant Terrarium

Make an instant terrarium to germinate the cypress-tree seeds. To make one, cut 1/3 off of the top of a 1-liter soda bottle, and then fill the bottom of the bottle with damp, sifted compost. Place three cypress seeds on top of the compost in the bottle, and cover them with shredded newspaper. Dampen the newspaper scraps thoroughly, and place the top of the bottle back on the lower half, overlapping the edges slightly. Seal your instant terrarium with duct tape.

Step 3 – Waiting for Seeds to Grow

When germinating seeds, you need to have patience. It could take as long as 30-90 days for the seeds to germinate. Once the seeds have sprouted, the cypress tree still won't be ready for ground-planting for at least six months. However, you should allow the tree to grow for a year before re-planting it for best results. Cypress trees are known for long, slow growth in the wild, but domestically-grown trees tend to grow much faster, perhaps due to the increased fertility of the soil.

Step 4 – Creating the Ideal Cypress Soil

Once your seeds have sprouted and have had at least six months to grow, you can plant your cypress trees. Peat is the perfect soil for the cypress, as this soil forms in the places where cypress trees sprout naturally. If peat is not available, use some sort of humus, such as sifted compost. Mix 1 1/2 cups of cotton-seed meal into the compost for added minerals and nutrients. Make sure the soil is damp but not completely drenched.

Step 5 – Encouraging Knees

If you want to encourage your cypress to grow "knees," or knobby above-ground roots, you need to plant your tree on a mound. Knees will generally form below the soil level at the base of the trunk and grow to approximately level with that point. So, if you want knees, plant the tree high on a slope. If you prefer to not have roots, plant the tree on low ground. There is no way to avoid growing knees at all, only controlling their growth by positioning the tree.

Once planted, keep potential disease and and pests in mind to ensure your cypress tree stays healthy.