Bought a bald cypress (or maybe it’s a pond cypress) from Lowe’s for $13. Trunk is about 1" in diameter, so I’m going to plant it to let it thicken. When do I chop the trunk? It’s already too tall. I’m definitely going to let it show signs of vigor first, but do I chop it now and then let it back bud on the trunk to build out new branches/structure or do I let the apex grow until I’m ready to collect it?
I would plant it and let it thicken/gain vigor for a year or two before I chopped it.
I bought a similar sized one a about 14 years ago that had roots that grew straight down along the sides of the 2 gallon pot and circled the bottom many times and were too heavy to bend. I cut off the lowest roots and potted it into wider, shallower pot to start to develop some nebari (it was in a pot since I was concerned about survival in the ground in Spokane). I repotted about every 2-3 years to spread the roots. Here is a picture from 2013 when it had been grown in a box for a couple of years and chopped the year before.
I let that grow for another couple of years, chopped, and let that grow again. It went into a pot in about 2016 and I was trying to grow it as a formal upright. This May I decided (was convinced by club members) that it would make a better flat top. So I chopped off all but about 4-6 branches that were wired diagonally up. It has exploded with growth all along the trunk.
It is now over 3" across above the nebari and has fairly good taper and fairly solid nebari. This was a long process that could have been sped up, particularly if it was in the ground. At some points the tree was over 10 ft. tall in a pot or box and then cut back enough to go into the cold frame.
Wow, that’s dedication! I just ordered some root control bags after listening to the Asymmetry podcast about Telperion Farms. That place sounds amazing. So after chopping the lower branches you got back-budding on the trunk? that’s good to know. I was worried about trying to maintain/gain branches below what I believe will be the future (far future ) cut site.
You need to go to the guru, @BillsBayou, he’s got great videos on youtube and tons of solid advice on Bald Cypress.
Zone 8b/9a and $13? Ohhhhhh yesssss…
First problem is the fact that it’s a nursery tree. As such, it has likely been up-potted incorrectly (for our use). Nurseries will take it out of a smaller container, shove it into a larger container, and top the roots with potting soil. This cause the previous potted roots to grow upwards. BLECH! Further, being in a nursery container, the roots grow out to the edge of the pot and either turn 90° downward, or 90° to the side. U-G-L-Y.
Solve this problem by repotting it into a restaurant bus tub. This weekend should do fine. I just checked the forecast for your area. Still nice and warm.
To drown or not to drown is a question you have to answer for yourself. You’ll likely do better* with punching a few drain holes in the pot with a blow-torch and a screw driver. DO NOT DRILL BLACK PLASTIC RESTAURANT BUS TUBS. The plastic will crack. Get an old screw driver, wear gloves, and heat the end of the screw driver enough that it will melt holes in the plastic.
Get a good potting soil, like MiracleGro. Mix it 50/50 with an inorganic bonsai soil component like haydite, lava rock, or such. NOT AKADAMA (that just turns to mush when you mix it with MiracleGro). Top it off with a solid organic fertilizer or low-yield inorganic fertilizer.
When you pot the tree, stretch out those roots (without tearing them if possible). Find the best soil line and pot it to there. Nursery BC trees may likely have roots growing higher that that line. If they do not appear to be too large, go ahead and remove them now. They won’t do you any good later.
Post photos and I may be able to give better advice.
*NOTE: Did Bill just recommend NOT drowning a bald cypress? For 1-inch trees, yes. Pot them in draining pots for a few years. Feed them well. They’ll fatten up nicely. Then, in a few years, when you want to get just the base to fatten up, that’s when you drown them for a season or a year or two.
I’m digging everything you’re doing here. You’re right on target!
So much info lol. I actually just bought some root control bags and I was going to plant the BC in it using pumice, bark compost and maybe mushroom compost. I’ll post some pics, but luckily it didn’t look TOO root bound. I was worried about that for sure. For planting, I picked a spot in my yard that’s a swale in between my house and the neighbor’s and it’s pretty damp there.
Are you saying that potting it would be better? I actually have a big tub that I used for this yamadori that I collected and killed lol. It was my first attempt and I did EVERYTHING incorrectly. Unless the goal is to fail which I aced.
that is a great tip about the melting of the bus tub/mortar tub holes.
I used a cement mixing tub found at Lowes. Drills like a dream, but I think it’s too big. My next yamadori will go into a grow box that I build so I can remove voids.
I found a hunk of copper at Lowes that I heat enough to make holes for my bulkheads. It’s about 1.25" in diameter (or something). Makes the process fly by.
Good ideas come from experience.
Experience comes from bad ideas.
The mixing tubs do drill nicely. The smaller restaurant bus tubs are made of a more fragile plastic.
Planting it in the ground is going to be better. You’ll get much better results than in a pot with respect to fattening up the tree’s trunk.
I pot my trees because I don’t have enough property to plant everything I’d like to plant. That is going to change soon. I’m going to be gaining access to wide open spaces where I’ll be able to plant and cultivate bald cypress to my heart’s content. JOY!
Filed growing trees for bonsai?
“I can do that!”
Just remember us day ones when you start selling
Took some pics. The one on the right is the one I’m gonna put on the bag. Other is for lamdscape. Root control bags should get here today, but I’m going out of town.
Telperion farms dudes put a barrier in their bags to help with root spreading. I’m gonna guess something like a piece of tile?
I agree with BillsBayou about growing them for a few seasons in mid depth pot to get the roots sorted out. It is far easier to repot them every couple of years to even out the strength. I use a 3/4" (2 cm) copper tube coupler held with a pair of needle nose vice grips that is heated nice a hot to melt holes in various plastic containers.
I put trees (not a BC) into growbag this year to try to get the benefits of the ground without having one or two roots run really hard at the expense of the others. I used screened garden soil and oil dry to fill the bags which is similar to Bill’s suggestion.
really interesting tree’ spicies. Does it grow in hot mediterranean climate? Or does jt need shade cloth protection? I tried larch nursery plant this year, but he just dried out because of the 36°Celsius ( believe high 90’F i think).
got a engelman spruce growing quite well.
This fine foliage and flat top canopee. just so organic and scultural design.
Idk, it gets pretty hot here during the summer. Regularly above 90* F plus lots and lots of humidity. Perhaps check your zone? I’m in zone 8.
I’d be more concerned about the winter dormancy. If the tree isn’t allowed to go dormant in the winter it could end up burning up all of its resources and die after a few years.
the problem for me is more the dryest summer with low humidity. From december to end of february so 3 months for winter dormancy.
In louisiana is there a winter period?
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Hy Bills do you consider plant taxodium in shade, half shade or full sun. Especially when i live in mediterranean/temperate climate with hot/dry summer. and winter normal for dormancy. I live near Marseille (France)480meters elevation.
i think plant this tree under a quercus robur, next to my japanese maples, and the.beech tree.