Full chop on bald cypress or maple in summer

Hi folks,

If I do full chops on a bald cypress or Japanese maple in summer – past first flush, visibly healthy, container grown in 30 gallon pots, pretty mature trees – am I going to kill them, or will they survive and back bud?

I live in southern Louisiana, so they’ve realistically got 6-7 months before “winter.”

1 Like

That’s a good question, I have wondered the same thing about Japanese maples. They say major pruning is better left until fall, but I can’t help but think that if proper aftercare is provided to the tree that a summer chop could actually be better. Giving the tree time to reacquire foliage mass and gain strength before it goes dormant again. You’re past spring so the major worry of bleeding is gone, the major threats to chopping at this time as I see it are heat, intense sun, wind etc, anything that will dry out the new fragile foliage before it has time to harden. So if you try this out I would say really overprotect them. Bring it inside your house to a cool dark room for a week directly after if you must.

But I think the fact that you live in the south and have such a longer growing season than the people who have established traditional bonsai knowledge for Japanese maples is the real kicker. Think about it. The Japanese have a shorter growing season and so they developed the accept approach based on their climate. Peter Adams, who wrote the book on Japanese maples, was English. For them there was always more risk of trying to get enough foliage to grow back before dormancy, but I think your climate may lend itself really well to this technique.

I haven’t tried it though, so would love to hear what others have to say about this!


Thanks for the thoughtful response! It’d be an expensive experiment, but that makes me think I should try it. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Haha, yea I know all to well about expensive experiments goin awry :joy:. But sometimes they really do pay off!

1 Like

oof, I just heard back from the tree wholesaler. The two trees I’m looking at are $200 and $300 respectively. That’s a VERY expensive experiment on a civil servant’s salary.

Maybe they’ll go unsold and I can pick them up for a song later. :slight_smile:

I was going to say, you can always try it out on like a 30 dollar JM from a local nursery first.

1 Like

As Ryan mentions in various streams trunk chop in summer after first flush hardens (usually 6-8 weeks) and you’ll get the best healing. Trunk chop in fall after the leaves fallen or spring just before buds are swelling (Peter Warren mentions that it would be better on JM in the fall) for the best bud push. Japanese maples are strong trees so I don’t think you’ll have much problems doing it in the summer, especially since you have so long time before dormancy.
I’ve only trunk chopped after leaf fall to get the best push next spring so I can’t tell you it will be fine from experience but with 6-8 months to go you have to be fine. I live in Sweden and our growing season is around 6-7 months, if I can trunk chop you should be able to :grinning:


Great info – thanks much!

I may pull down some JMs tomorrow from a local nursery on the cheap and give it a shot.

1 Like

So all the JMs were $150+. But I found this giant honking Wisteria (4-5 feet “tall”)…

And after some late night and early morning work (and after rewatching the literati video), I found this inside.

Bonsai gonna do what bonsai gonna do.


I bought a Bald Cypress from the nursery on sale for $15, it’s about 2’’ diameter and 7 feet tall. Very healthy, will attach pics later. Going to trunk chop and I’ll keep y’all updated on how it goes!
Edit- I’m located in central Mississippi :slight_smile:

1 Like