Bald cypress, and general trunk chop guidelines....

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#1
I have a large, 6ft, bald cypress I bought at Home Depot on clearance in the fall of last year, it hasn’t started to but quite yet from winter here in upstate NY, but a quick scratch of the bark shows vibrant green almost everywhere. Now assuming this tree is alive and will come back this year, I need to address the fact that I have a tree that is 3 trees tall for our purposes....

I assume an air layer to get the top portion as one tree would be ideal...can multiple air layers be done at different points on a tree in the same year?

Final thoughts would be to do a hard trunk chop on what remained after the air layer.... that being said, whenever I hear people talk about truck chopping it’s always said to leave a branch remaining. Well the current branch structure of this tree places the first branch at about 4ft off the ground. Would I be able to chop this thing even lower and still have it backbud?

Sorry if this isn’t the right spot for this post, I’m new to the forums:)
 
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#2
Hi,
Some points to help you on your way.
1. Chop to 1/3 of final expected height. Eg. 1 foot chop equals 3 foot tree.
2. Air layers can be achieved with Bald Cypress but tricky etc. And you lose another year waiting for the layer to root, instead of growing your next trunk section.
3. Enjoy your journey, and use the search function of the website as there are many threads and posts about almost any tree you might like to grow.

My choice would be to go with my #1 option, and buy a few more different species of tree so you don’t kill this one with kindness 👍
Charles
 
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#3
Hi,
Some points to help you on your way.
1. Chop to 1/3 of final expected height. Eg. 1 foot chop equals 3 foot tree.
2. Air layers can be achieved with Bald Cypress but tricky etc. And you lose another year waiting for the layer to root, instead of growing your next trunk section.
3. Enjoy your journey, and use the search function of the website as there are many threads and posts about almost any tree you might like to grow.

My choice would be to go with my #1 option, and buy a few more different species of tree so you don’t kill this one with kindness 👍
Charles
Thanks for the quick response! I have quite a few other trees, but this will be my first chop. I’d assume that the “one insult” rule applies here, ie if I hard chop, I would be better off waiting to repot until next year?
 
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#4
Bald cypress can grow new buds on old wood so you can chop at any height and expect to get good response.
Mine have not objected to repot and trunk chop, usually done at the same time. Now, before bud burst, would be a good time.
 
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#5
The one insult per year was a phrase to slow the roll of newbies who were wrangling pines with too much enthusiasm.
Bald Cypress are more resilient than pines, but as a new to bonsai person, it doesn't hurt to go slow. I found with bald cypress, you can chop & repot all in one day. And at some point if you get good growth, do branch selection and pruning later in summer or early autumn.
 
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#6
I keep my BC in an unheated-detatched garage over the winter. Not because they can't take the cold but because they "wake up" from dormancy very late in our climate, especially yours. Mine are pushing leaves now, last year I didn't get growth until June. Could be because I repotted and chopped that winter/spring though. they bud out like crazy. Don't worry about branching until the trunk is almost as thick as you want.
 
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#7
111D7A49-2C6F-4AF1-A76F-539C75CA6C11.jpeg
Here’s a pic of my BC that I just trunk chopped and root pruned coming back nicely. It was About 8’. I just started a thread on it as well. I actually pissed a cpl ppl off because I wasnt too enthusiastic about pruning the roots at the same time, but I ended up pruning about 40% back anyway, repotted and threw it in full sun. Buds popped about a week later. Different crowd in my thread. Look up “just bought a huge bald cypress “

Note: buds came in much lighter green (almost a little tan in there) than my cypress that got about 4 hrs less direct sun

Tree is doing well though.
 
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#8
I would create a shallow hallow on the chop spot and then wrap it all with grafting tape or that medical tape that is fabric. This prevent it from swelling up at the cut spot. They can swell pretty bad. Most people chop them more flush vs. angled because of this. I wouldn’t recut though since you have a nice leader. The key is to force it to heal inward. Similar to what people do with broom style zelkova’s. I have done this to corky elms with success too as they tend to swell.

I also have struck a couple of ‘cuttings’ that were probably 2-3 inches thick so not sure why layering would be hard.
 
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#9
I would create a shallow hallow on the chop spot and then wrap it all with grafting tape or that medical tape that is fabric. This prevent it from swelling up at the cut spot. They can swell pretty bad. Most people chop them more flush vs. angled because of this.
Really? Never heard that before...
 
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#10
Really? Never heard that before...
Most just chop straight across vs. angled but I have read using a hose clamp. I just wrap it tight with tape. Hose clamp won’t work with his angled cut. Slightly off topic but with Zelkova some will drill a deep hole in the cut wound and use the hose clamp. Zelkovas don’t callus up bad though it is just to create a very smooth transition from trunk to branches. There are several thread on here about them and broom style training.

BCs swell bad on an angled cut. I did a couple like that years ago and had to redo the cuts on both because they Callus pretty bad. Like I said, I will tape up cuts on Seiju and cork elms too. Important to call out that you need the leader or some buds prior to wrapping them.
 
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#11
Most just chop straight across vs. angled
Interesting.... I have cut just above my leader flat then dive into the angle cut. After the second year I have carved the callus back a bit on the inside. Seems to help with the "swelling" appearance I think you speaking of.
I have only done this once so not sure if I'm doing it 100% correct. Started 3 MC this year.... each with straight cuts then next year plan on the angled cut on one... others are getting a flat top treatment so we shall see how that goes.
 
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#12
Interesting.... I have cut just above my leader flat then dive into the angle cut. After the second year I have carved the callus back a bit on the inside. Seems to help with the "swelling" appearance I think you speaking of.
I have only done this once so not sure if I'm doing it 100% correct. Started 3 MC this year.... each with straight cuts then next year plan on the angled cut on one... others are getting a flat top treatment so we shall see how that goes.
Definitely not saying you can’t angle cut. Angle cut just leaves more area to heal and swell. Plus some people like the hollow as part of design. I carve a slight depression on almost all medium to large cuts. I have always wanted to thread graft a leader in the middle of a chop to see if I could achieve perfect formal upright taper on one. Most importantly, I am not a BC expert. I have just worked on 4-5 of them but did a lot of research years ago from the big bayou guys (Marchal, Guidry, Banting). Never done a flat top but I would imagine a v-shaped cut would work.
 
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Emanon

Seedling
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#13
Bald cypress can grow new buds on old wood so you can chop at any height and expect to get good response.
Mine have not objected to repot and trunk chop, usually done at the same time. Now, before bud burst, would be a good time.
For fun I decided to experiment a little this spring on an extra Bald Cypress tree. I got it as a seedling in a pack of three the year before last. I've been growing it in a relatively shallow bonsai pot and it is now a little over an inch in trunk diameter at its base. I removed off over half of its roots and, at the same time, chopped off almost all of the trunk -- down to around 3". It still budded as expected (like crazy) all the way around the trunk. I have no idea what to do with it now! ... but, yeah, I, and now you @stewarjm192, have evidence of the abuse they can take.
 

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#14
@Emanon
I like how nice and low you did your chop. Depending upon your plan, you can let the branches grow, later this year select your next leader, then when it is near 3/4 the diameter of the first segment, make the second chop at a little shorter length addition of the first, at 6cm instead of 8 cm. Repeat the process until you are happy.
 

Emanon

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#15
@Emanon
I like how nice and low you did your chop. Depending upon your plan, you can let the branches grow, later this year select your next leader, then when it is near 3/4 the diameter of the first segment, make the second chop at a little shorter length addition of the first, at 6cm instead of 8 cm. Repeat the process until you are happy.
Thank you for your comment! Would you recommend making this second cut parallel to the ground or angled?
 
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#16
I have done it both ways. If you have chosen a front, with intent to present a front with few visible scars and smooth taper, you would make the cut at a diagonal, with an existing branch in the upper most position. But if you want a more informal, less planned looking, gnarly trunk, straight across is better. You can later after buds have become second year branches then select your new leader and recut the straight across to a diagonal to make taper. Or leave the blunt wound to heal more gnarly.

You could instead of chopping, just Jin above the chop point, later carving the deadwood to make naturalistic trunk diameter and direction changes.
 

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