Trunk chopping bald cypress

I live in Northern Va, Is this the right time of the year to trunk chop a 5-7yr old Bald Cypress? The videos on Youtube are dated in the winter but they also look like they are all in the southern climate. Any help would be great. It is from nursery stock.

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I would say no.

When you significantly reduce a tree, you want to give it as much time as possible to recover before its upcoming Most Serious Weather Event. In northern VA, at this time of year, that means freezing temperatures (and wind) in winter.

I suspect @BillsBayou has better advice about what time of year is, but my guess would be very early spring before bud push or late summer/early fall once you’re past your extreme high temps. (My money is on early spring.)


@VICTOR I collected and chopped a 15 year old BC in the first week of May. I live in central Iowa and we have pretty severe winters with frozen temps this whole week of November. The tree budded back strongly and I have it in 90% pumice and 10% sharp granite. Needs good drainage and frequent water during growth and root repair. Needs winter protection with temps below 30F. Good luck with baldy! They need good drainage if they have been grown in soil or in the ground. If collected from a marsh or bayou they can stand in water. Hoping for a good winter and a chance to develop next spring. :evergreen_tree:

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Now is not a good time at all. I chop in January/February because that is when the buds are swelling. The tree is in wake-up mode.

I’d go with @Bonsai_bob’s advice. His climate is much closer to yours than it is mine.

All that said, post a photo of what the tree looks like now. Give us some history as to when it was acquired and how. How healthy has it been? Is it in the ground? I don’t like to give advice without a full check-up.

As to what type of soil and how well draining, or whether to flood it at all, that would be an entirely different conversation with me using words like “schizogenic tissues” and “aerenchyma”. At which point you should imagine me talking like a mad scientist. “Igor, flood the village!”


love to hear from you Bill! Hope all is going well with you. The snakes and gators going to sleep already?? :thinking:


I’ll be in the swamps again in January/February. I have a friend who has a private lake 5-hours north of New Orleans. If the weather’s too warm, we’re gonna dump in a barrel of NyQuil the night before the dig.

While we were looking around the area, he says “Bill, look down.” Then he picks up this little friend:

And when I say he has a private lake, some of it is swamp. Even after seeing the little fellow, above, I waded through hip-deep water to float out our trees. The video for this event shows me towing this raft. I really need to post that soon.


My friend, Byron, went on a scouting trip this summer. This is a tree near that private lake of his. I can’t wait to see if we can collect it. It’s going to be a real beauty. Byron swears there is live tissue and branching on the back of this. Hope he’s right.


I found some earth worms in the soil when I dug up the cypress in my wife’s garden. I need to show her the “little fellow” you ran into!! :sweat_smile:


When is a good time to air layer bald Cypress? I have one with a very straight trunk.

I cannot think of a bald cypress that does not have a straight trunk. Maybe a raft? Include a picture so I can understand the question. In my experience cypress are trunk chopped, not air layered. :thinking:

Hi Bob, not the best picture of my taxodium distichum. I want to make a shohin with it as the foliage is very fine. Last spring I girdled the trunk with a fat wire and earthed it up with akadama. I was worried about committing to a full air layer as it is a conifer, but being a deciduous conifer, I understand I may be able to get away with an air layer without a lower branch to keep the roots going?


How did the air layer go? I’m gonna do mine tomorrow.

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Unfortunately it failed and I lost the tree😢

Dang, that sucks! Luckily I’m layering off the top 25% of a tree that I’ll be chopping in the future anyways. Do you know what caused it to fail?

It didn’t throw enough roots from the cut site. Probably also had a dry day which pushed it over the edge. I was also perhaps a little overly ambitious. 25% sounds much more achievable. Good luck :+1:

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Eh, well if it works out then cool. If not then I’ll just be removing a section that I’m going to be removing anyways. :man_shrugging:t4:


So, how did your BC air layer work out, Bentley? I’ve been wanting to multiply the 3 trees I have for an eventual forest. Also considering the kiddie pool propagation method mentioned in another thread, although that requires just going for the chop and crossing my fingers. Still unsure about time of year for best chances. My previous chops have been in winter. Thanks!

It worked out well. Turning it into a raft. I had to rewound it after about 6 weeks though. Removed it 6 weeks after that in late fall. Probably could have just left it on the tree, but it all is well.

Google Photos


Looks cool. I admire your restraint with the wire, I have a tendency to get a little snakey.

So based on that, I should be looking to start the air layer in August or September? I am in Southern California so ‘fall’ is probably not the same thing as for you, but my BC’s don’t start losing needles until december iirc

The sooner you start the better. You want max foliage above the air layer, so if it’s fully flushed out then go for it.

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