I wanted to shed some light on a common yet disastrous tree choice for our Central Texas landscapes: the Leyland Cypress. Despite its popularity, this tree faces a multitude of significant challenges in our area that often leads to its downfall. Many tree nurseries continue to sell these because they are easy to grow, look great when on the shelves, and can fetch a good price. If they had any ecological sense of responsibility or respect for their customers, they would remove these from their Central Texas stock.

First off, Leyland Cypresses are highly susceptible to Phytophthora root rot. This nasty disease is caused by a soil-borne fungus that thrives in poorly drained, wet soils. Given our region’s propensity for sudden, heavy, extended rains, this can spell disaster for these trees, leading to weakened, dying plants that struggle to absorb water and nutrients.

Then there’s Seiridium canker, another heartbreaker for Leyland Cypresses. This fungal disease attacks the tree through its bark, causing sporadic branches to turn reddish-brown as they die off. All it takes is a little humidity and some bad luck for your tree to be infected. It’s often exacerbated by environmental stress, including the kind of extreme heat and drought conditions we’re no stranger to in Central Texas. Unfortunately, once a branch succumbs to Seiridium canker or any ailment, it’s gone for good, leaving behind unsightly gaps in the foliage. This effect cascades until the whole plant is a ratty mess and needs to be removed.

Speaking of drought, Leyland Cypresses don’t handle it well. Drought stress weakens these trees, making them more prone to disease and pest infestations. In our area, where dry spells are a regular part of the climate, this can lead to a lot of unhappy trees and even unhappier homeowners. The photos on this post are from a row of Leylands that completely died from this summers drought.

The sad truth is, once part of a Leyland Cypress dies, it won’t regrow, resulting in permanent, unsightly holes in your landscaping. This is a huge reason why I strongly advise against planting Leyland Cypresses in Central Texas. If you make one mistake and the tree suffers, its appearance is damaged almost indefinitely. They’re just not suited to our environment and will likely cause more headaches than they’re worth.

There is a fantastic alternative: the Arizona Cypress. This tree is much better adapted to our climate and soil conditions, offering a beautiful, resilient option for those looking for a similar aesthetic without the hassle.

So, let’s make our gardens and landscapes better places by choosing the right trees for our environment. Have any of you had experiences with Leyland Cypresses or found other suitable alternatives? I’d love to hear your stories and suggestions.