Bald Cypress Forest

Phillip C

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Last summer I bought 7 seedling Bald Cypress trees al planted in the same container - about a 6 inch nursery pot. I almost let them die with what I found out was soil mealy bugs, but got the pesticide to them just in time for the trees to put out a bit of new growth. This new growth hasn't turned rust colored yet, but I figure that is because it was newer growth. my large BC is fully rust colored now and quite attractive.

I want to use the 7 small trees in a forest arrangement. Right now they are about 10 -12 inches tall with hardly any taper. I have a picture showing them all together, but it doesn't do much for showing height to width ratio or anything.

My plan is to cut them back substantially at varying heights so that they will eventually mimic a real stand of BC with the shorter trees on the edge working up to a flat top for the dominant trees.

These things are so skinny and the butt on them no bigger than there middle, I am wondering how in the world I am going to get a buttressed look for the butts? Do they need to be potted in different pots rather than all together. I am very familiar with the species and know that they can grow with their roots covered in mud under slowly moving swamp water, but would prefer a very moist area not underwater.

Any good ideas on what and how to do with things would be appreciated. Thank you for your advice and help. Phillip C
 
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Hi Phillip,

It sounds like you already know what to do. Here is a group of Montezuma cypress that I put together in 2004. The oldest tree was started in 1974 from seed and was grown as a single bonsai till about the early 90s when i bought it. The rest are from seed I collected in 1993. some went into the ground for a short time ans others went into plastic pots.

Grant
 

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Phillip C

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Great looking forest Grant, one day I hope to be close to that. I am still somewhat stymied on how to get the butts a good deal bigger than the bole of the tree. Instruction welcomed. Thanks Phillip C
 
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Well you can grow the trees sitting in plastic pots sitting in water during spring and summer. Some precautions apply so check out other threads on this topic with bald cypress..

You can grow on sacrifice branches and cut them off later.

However with a group planting it is not necesarilly important to have fat trunks. Growing the trees together over a number of years together gives character.

Grant
 

jk_lewis

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What IS important in a group planting that a few of the trees should be quite a bit larger (trunk diameter) than the others. It will take a while for flared bases to develop. this is best accomplished by planting in a shallow grow box and letting them be for 4-5 years.
 

Phillip C

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JKL, thanks for the insight and advice on growing my BC forest. As i cut back the trunks I believe thy will tend to fatten up, what I am unsure about is how to get that character you see in nature. I have read various threads on here regarding the merits of, and the down sides of growing them if water. Seems the 'Experts" from LA say not to do that. Gary Marchol who lived in lived in LA and is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on Bald Cypress has moved to Atlqnta area, so maybe I can track him down and pick his brain on the matter. Just thought I'd get some varying and ideas from the wise sage here on the forum. I am new to this and the more I hear, the more I learn. One thing I have learned is that you'd best stay from bonsai unless you are blessed with lots and lots of patience amd that will be one of the most difficult thing I will have to learn or should I say develop. Many thanks, Phillip C

JKL, my response regarding growing the in water should have been directed to Grant Bowie in the post prior to yours.
 
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talus_

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Phillip-- A question: I also have a forest planting with trees about this vintage (Japanese maples) and it also has an infestation of mealy bugs. I have used a commercial pesticide but haven't been able to clear them. What did you use and how did you apply it? Thanks.
 

Phillip C

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Gary Marchon, who said that one of the few things that are pests are soil mealy bugs. He recommended a chemical called Triazicide. One treatment is supposed to work, but I used it several times. I think it is made by Spectracide and, I used the liquid formula mixed with water. Something like 3 tablespoonfuls per gallon and soak the soil with it for two or three days. I got late new growth and much healthier trees, although it will probably be next spring before they look really healthy. just to be sure mixed a gallon last night an poured it through them - thought it couldn't hurt it may come in a granular type too, that is what I was told to get, but Home Depot only had the liquid kind and it works fine. try it and good luck. Let me know how it works for you. Phillip C
 
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besides what jkl has mentioned, if you allow it to grow unrestrained for a couple of years, it will thicken the trunk rather fast. You will of course pretty much have to start over with any styling you have already done...
 

Phillip C

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Stacy, thank you for the information. Right now they are all planted together in a 6" or 8" pot. What exactly do you mean by "unrestrained"? I am new and am not sure what JKL means when he says 'shallow grow box". I think that's about the same as leaving them alone, or planting them in a larger nursery pot. Is that right? During this 4 or 5 year growth time should i cut them back to varying heights, some for the sides, taller ones for the middle? As you can tell, I am very new at this having joined the Atlanta society last Spring. I realize that this forest is going to be a long term project, but is there anything I can do to help get the butts bigger faster or shorten the trees to varying heights and begining to train them for placement later as a forest? I guess i am basically asking if I should let the trees grow by themselves while their butts thicken up or while letting them grow in a large container or should I begin early stages of formation while they are growing larger butts? I have tried to be clear and hope I have been successful, and not just blathered on making no sense. Thanks for your help so far and I certainly will appreciate any further guidance. Thanks, Phillip C
 

talus_

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thanks. i'll see if i can rid the forest of these little dudes.
 

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Stacy, thank you for the information. Right now they are all planted together in a 6" or 8" pot. What exactly do you mean by "unrestrained"? I am new and am not sure what JKL means when he says 'shallow grow box". I think that's about the same as leaving them alone, or planting them in a larger nursery pot. Is that right? During this 4 or 5 year growth time should i cut them back to varying heights, some for the sides, taller ones for the middle? As you can tell, I am very new at this having joined the Atlanta society last Spring. I realize that this forest is going to be a long term project, but is there anything I can do to help get the butts bigger faster or shorten the trees to varying heights and begining to train them for placement later as a forest? I guess i am basically asking if I should let the trees grow by themselves while their butts thicken up or while letting them grow in a large container or should I begin early stages of formation while they are growing larger butts? I have tried to be clear and hope I have been successful, and not just blathered on making no sense. Thanks for your help so far and I certainly will appreciate any further guidance. Thanks, Phillip C

Unrestrained means just that. Let them grow don't chop on them. You should separate them so you can grow them on without them growing their roots together, and so you can grow them in different conditions, so there are some that will be bigger than the others. It's not just different heights you want, you also want different trunk sizes. Google forest group bonsai plantings, there are some good articles about placement you can read. By shallow grow box, this is what it sounds like. There are numerous examples of this as well on the web, it's a wood box that is a few inches tall, with screening on the bottom. This makes the trees roots spread sideways, which will make the base (not butt) of the tree swell as the roots move out. With BC, I would suggest maybe a rubbermaid tub instead of a grow box. This will allow you to basically keep them sitting in water all the time. I've found mine likes that, and they grow faster that way. I sealed the drainage holes of the pots mine are in.
 

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Yes. Leave them alone! Period. Let them grow up and out with no trimming.

By shallow grow box I mean a wooden box at least 1 foot square and no more than 8 inches deep and filled with good bonsai soil.

After 3-5 years, you can dig them up and chop them at various heights. Remove most of the branches (they will grow back), then replant together in a larger box in the arrangement that looks good to you (size depends on the number of trees) and let them grow some more. When their roots have had time to grow together, you can think about a slab or a pot for them.
 

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Thanks Judy and JKL, I will separate them next Spring and repot them in either grow boxes or larger nursery pots or both with various soils for BC, mostly organic, with some pumice, lava rock or whatever. I have read on here of enough different ratio's of BC soil to easily come up with 7 different kinds so they will grow at different speeds. I have john Naka's book and in it he shows several ways to arrange a forest with varying numbers and sizes of trees. He also shows how NOT to arrange them which is at least as helpful.

I thank you both as it feels goo to have a plan even this early in the dormant season. I will try to control the amount of water they sit in while keeping the medium as wet as possible and vary that as well. I have read that, and this makes goo sense to me, that although many, if not most BC's in nature spend about half the time covered in the swamp water, it is something they endure, and are able to and do, what with very deep tap roots and knees rising above the water but, they prefer not to grow in standing water.

Having spent several years prior to my legal practice buying hardwood timber in the swamps across the Southeast, I have seem them in all sorts of settings. Along with white oak, Quercus alba pagodafolia, they and stands of them were among my favorite trees in the swamps and lowlands where I spent most of my time buying timber. Too bad I wasn't into Bonsai then or I could have collected some fine specimens, but alas, I am here now as a rookie at 51 and retired growing timber back in Alabama and am too old and, mainly too soft to go collecting down in the swamps now.

Thanks again and if anyone else has any other words of wisdom, please share them, as my mind is an open book when it comes to Bonsai and Lord knows I need all the help I can get. Thanks again, Phillip C
 

Phillip C

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thanks. i'll see if i can rid the forest of these little dudes.

Talus, I was in HD yesterday and they were well stocked with Triazicide, both liquid and granular form. The bottle of liquid was somewhere short of $10 and the 10# bag was like $7.97. Gary Marhon actually recommended the granules, but I think either will do the trick. I am not one of these organic growers who use no chemicals, although I will use some, when it comes to bugs killing my trees, I want as strong a chemical pesticide as I can buy without a license that won't end up harming my trees. They are little beasts rather than little dudes, if you ask me. Good luck, Phillip C
 
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seperating them is a good idea mainly because when you start to grow them out, being too confined could hinder their growth... having said this, hindering some and letting others grow would certainly give you varying trunk sizes...
I would seperate for now, put in the grow box like the others have said, and let some grow out letting them grow as tall as they want, and others keep them trimmed.
The ones allowed to grow will thicken fast, the ones trimmed will not.
 

Phillip C

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Thanks Stacy, just having a plan on what to do with them next Spring feels good. I am leaning toward separating them into grow boxes with different soil mixes for differing rates of growth. 1 square foot and 8 inches deep, I bet some of my old nursery pots could work for this. Plenty of organic soil with a differing mix of pumice, shale, etc. and plenty of water. Keep them very damp, but I don't believe they care to live standing in water, they are able to tolerate it but prefer low wetlands. Sound good? Even though winter isn't even here yet, it's nice to have a good plan for these babies.

Thanks to all who contributed, I have learned something from you all. I appreciate you taking your time to help out. Phillip C
 

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