Bald Cypress - getting ramification where you want it?

I’m relatively new to Bald Cypress, and have some trees that I’m starting to work on branch structure with. Last year I let branches grow out, wired them down and trimmed them short in the winter.

I’m trying to keep the branches fairly tight in to the trunk, to keep the illusion of height in the overall tree.

The first flush of growth is getting big. I don’t have any buds where I want the next push to originate. The red arrows mark where the new nodes are, the green is where I want them.

What are the best methods to get ramification where you want it with Bald Cypress? Here are some of my thoughts, but if there are other things I’m not thinking of, I’m all ears! Please chime in on these ideas or add others if you have them.

  1. Can I just cut the new growth off right where I want the next growth to originate from (green arrows), and I’ll get the next push coming from the end of those twigs?

  2. Ryan often talks about building up the vigor in the branch and you’ll get more back budding. By that theory, maybe I should keep the branches long, but nip the tips to stimulate back budding? But maybe Bald Cypress back bud so well that I wouldn’t have to do this?

  3. Should I trim these shoots hard or let them keep going - I’m not looking for more thickness in the branches, so I wouldn’t let them run for that reason.

Thanks in advance!


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I’m new to bald cypress, but have grown dawn redwood for a few years which appears very similar in habit. The problem I find is when I cut new flush back from 3 to get 2, instead of the side shoots growing away, I just push more buds from the crotches and get 4 with massive swelling! My guess is that my timing is wrong and I should wait until later in the season.

I found your post and was hoping to find an answer to your question because I have the same issue. I have a great bald cypress with amazing three-trunk style but I can’t get any of the branches to be more than skinny twigs. I have watched the redwood pinching video which is great but it doesn’t address yours and my issue. I’m hoping someone out there knows the answer.

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I am a novice in bonsai, but I can tell you what I did to grow thicker branches: essentially nothing. II just let them run for a couple of seasons and left the foliage grow without pinching to power the branches. As a result, the branchest have thickened nicely. I also cut off any of the skinny branches that I knew I didn’t want, to focus growth on the ones that I did. This year I’ll start working on initial design and pruning…

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Check out the Bald Cypress Primer stream from 20 June 2017. My notes indicate that you:

  • Cut back in late winter/early spring to remove the long growth from last year just as the buds swell to leave one or more buds pointing in the right directions.
  • Cut back new growth just as it hardens to one or more buds. They are hardening just as the new growth goes from reddish to starting to show some straw color (bark).
    This also applied to dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).

There is also a stream on Bald Cypress Pruning (24 March 2020) and Bald Cypress Partial Defoliation (7 July 2020) that I urge you to watch. I am really glad that I take notes and catalog them by notebook and page. So far, I have over 600 pages of notes in composition notebooks.


@MartyWeiser my eyes just popped out of my head. That is super impressive dedication to notation. You are building a MIRAI concordance!!

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