Bald Cypress Soil Difference

Raindog

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I have 5 recently potted bald cypress. 2 of them are in 50/50 potting soil/pine bark mulch are doing great. 3 of them are in 50/50 Turface and pine bark mulch and they are not growing as well and the leaves are not as green.
Has anyone else experienced issues with bald cypress and Turface? I have been watering and feeding them all equally and they all receive the same amount of sunlight.
Thanks,
Alan
 

GrimLore

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I find organics work best for Bald Cypress. Ours have always done just fine with my nursery mix and lots of water. Some just use premium topsoil the jet black type like Fafard Premium Topsoil http://fafard.com/products/?id=197.

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ysrgrathe

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I doubt it is the turface -- it's the drainage. Bald cypress likes to be wetter than most plants. Mine are in roughly equal parts peat, bark, turface and perlite and doing great -- this mix is similar to the ones you have that are happy.
 

johng

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I have used turface for decades with BC with no problems. Recent repotting is more likely the issue than the soil.
 

Raindog

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OK, I'm getting the feeling that it's not the Turface!
Thx,
Alan
 

BillsBayou

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Oh, but it IS the Turface!

I'm with ysrgrathe's comment that is has to do with drainage. The trees in the organic mix are fully wet and calling upon that moisture to recover from the repotting. The trees in the Turface mixture are not getting as much moisture. They don't have the water reserves that are found in the organic mix.

Your experience with the trees may fall in line with what I said. If so, step up your watering of the Turface trees.
 

Raindog

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Oh, but it IS the Turface!
Your experience with the trees may fall in line with what I said. If so, step up your watering of the Turface trees.
That sounds logical. I will increase the Turface trees watering schedule.
 

BillsBayou

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That sounds logical. I will increase the Turface trees watering schedule.
Watering is a very personal thing. From your timing to your technique to your yard to your zone, it all plays a role. I was thinking about your issue this morning while I was watering.

I like to add coarse inorganics (I use haydite) to promote root ramification. The rough edges abrade the roots and they reply by splitting their growth in more than one direction. An all-organic mix, in my opinion is too soft to promote the types of roots I want to see in a bonsai tree. More root ramification means more root surface area. So the inorganic component is important to me.

If your 50/50 turface mix appears to be less than ideal for your bald cypress in your yard using your watering techniques, I'd recommend going 30-40% turface and the rest inorganic.

To clarify our terms:
When you say "pine bark mulch" do you mean exactly that? I use soil conditioner. You're in Florida, I see. You should be able to get it there. Soil conditioner is a smaller grade of pine bark mulch. The particles are less than 1/2" in size. Most of it is smaller than that. A 1/4" screen would allow nearly all of it to pass through.

What I call "pine bark mulch" is what I bought from the same company that manufactures my soil conditioner. The mulch was mostly big fibrous bits and chunks of bark. No use as a bonsai soil component.

I bought three bags of that stuff thinking it was the right stuff. Stuck with it, I found a use for it. Some of my trees are in nursery containers growing in bonsai soil. I used to use screens to keep the bonsai soil from rinsing out of nursery pots. Now I use the pine bark mulch. The mulch is great for the bottoms of nursery pots. Just enough to block the large holes and I don't even have to cover the entire bottom of the pot. It drains great and the bonsai soil gets in there to fill most of the air gaps without a significant amount falling out of the pot.
 

ysrgrathe

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BillsBayou do you have experience growing bald cypress in that mix? 30%+ turface and the rest inorganic is very surprising to me.

I have a few basic mixes:
  • peat / bark / perlite / turface: bald cypress
  • bark / haydite or granite / turface: deciduous
  • peat / granite: very young conifers
  • pumice / lava / turface: mature conifers
As you go down the list there is less and less water retention. I have tried cypress in the deciduous mix and they did not do as well as in the high organic mix.

As you said though, there are a lot of variables. You probably get a lot more rain than I do so a free draining mix does better. I think this is a major reason for soil wars: people don't realize that they are growing trees in locations with radically different rainfall, humidity, temperature, wind, etc.
 

BillsBayou

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As I mentioned, I use haydite. I've started bonsai using only 30% haydite. When I get the tree into a pot, I go to 40% haydite. 50% seems too dry for me.

Everyone has to know what works for their specific skills, location, tree, and any other variable you can imagine. I believe you can grow nearly anything in nearly anything if you account for it in your watering. The watering may be an insane schedule, though.

I came up with that belief early on. A club member with everything from bald cypress to black pines was growing nearly everything she had in straight haydite. She said she did it because she likes to have a cigarette and drink her coffee while watering her plants and she tends to daydream while doing it. Thus all her plants were getting far too much water. The fact that they all survived told me that her soil choice matched her watering and her backyard.

As to your deciduous mix, I'd steer people away from using any granite in their bald cypress or tropical mixes. I'd include any non-absorbent inorganic material in the "do not use" list.
 

Raindog

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Attached is a photo of the pine bark mulch I mix 50/50 with Turface. It's not the big chunks but I don't believe it's as fine as soil conditioner.
Is there any reference chart available showing the relative water retention of the various inorganic soils?IMG_1205.jpg ?
 

petegreg

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I have been watering and feeding them all equally and they all receive the same amount of sunlight.
Thanks,
Alan
Isn't this equality the cause that makes difference?
 

Zach Smith

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Attached is a photo of the pine bark mulch I mix 50/50 with Turface. It's not the big chunks but I don't believe it's as fine as soil conditioner.
Is there any reference chart available showing the relative water retention of the various inorganic soils?
This is just what you need. The soil conditioner is much more rotted and will break down more quickly causing potential water-logging issues.
 

GrimLore

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This is just what you need. The soil conditioner is much more rotted and will break down more quickly causing potential water-logging issues.
I guess mileage varies by climate ;) I have a few growing real nice in 1/3 each Fafard topsoil, Horticultural perlite, and coarse sand. They all sit in 8 1/2 tall pots that are in 4 inches of water that I flush daily. The three in this picture were pencil thin bare rooted 16 inches tall or so on May 27th. They are all approaching 4 feet tall, are showing nice taper and have 1 1/2 bases above the substrate in this picture. the roots under the substrate and the trunk are flaring horizontal because they are looking for air is my guess... Being a bit North I think this is great growth and health and would be hard pressed to make them more water logged.:oops:

IMG_0655.JPG

Grimmy
 
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rockm

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I guess mileage varies by climate ;) I have a few growing real nice in 1/3 each Fafard topsoil, Horticultural perlite, and coarse sand. They all sit in 8 1/2 tall pots that are in 4 inches of water that I flush daily. The three in this picture were pencil thin bare rooted 16 inches tall or so on May 27th. They are all approaching 4 feet tall, are showing nice taper and have 1 1/2 bases above the substrate in this picture. the roots under the substrate and the trunk are flaring horizontal because they are looking for air is my guess... Being a bit North I think this is great growth and health and would be hard pressed to make them more water logged.:oops:

View attachment 117628

Grimmy
I've been growing mine in 70/30 potting soil/composted pine bark and bonsai soil for years. Keeps roots moist, not soggy. Zach's advice is spot on for growing BC just about anywhere. Don't need constantly waterlogged soil for this species. It is a myth. Root development for BC is faster in soil that drains, but retains a bit more water than just bonsai soil. FWIW, in its native range BC will grow in droughty catch ponds along highways, on road embankments, or just about anywhere they're planted. They're a standard highway median tree in East Texas and upland west Louisiana.

The roots on my collected BC flare tremendously under the soil also. They're strong rooted trees. They're not looking for air as much as they're looking for space to run. Long, substantial running roots give BC basal fluting. A pot defeats that, as roots can't get out of the pot. That's mostly why seedling don't develop much, if any, buttress roots like older collected trees have.
 
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Zach Smith

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I guess mileage varies by climate ;) I have a few growing real nice in 1/3 each Fafard topsoil, Horticultural perlite, and coarse sand. They all sit in 8 1/2 tall pots that are in 4 inches of water that I flush daily. The three in this picture were pencil thin bare rooted 16 inches tall or so on May 27th. They are all approaching 4 feet tall, are showing nice taper and have 1 1/2 bases above the substrate in this picture. the roots under the substrate and the trunk are flaring horizontal because they are looking for air is my guess... Being a bit North I think this is great growth and health and would be hard pressed to make them more water logged.:oops:


Grimmy
Looks like a great job of growing these small cypresses. The tall pots and your soil mix no doubt lead to great drainage given the hydraulic head. When I'm asked about growing BC in standing water I make sure it's understood that the water has to be refreshed often. It's all about moisture and oxygen. Your daily flush should be ideal for that.

My comment about water-logging has to do with mucky soils that don't drain and shallower containers relative to the size of the tree. About half or more of the BC I collect end up in concrete mixing tubs. These can accumulate a lot of water if the soil isn't properly composed - I know this from personal experience.
 

johng

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30%+ turface and the rest inorganic is very surprising to me.
I'd recommend going 30-40% turface and the rest inorganic.
I suspect this is a typo and he really meant organic! Hopefully he will chime it

Bill is correct in what he is telling you! I do things a little different...but as Bill mentioned, this is what works for me, in my location, with my watering habits. I have tried it all with respect to substrates for growing BC. My experience is this...for new material, whether it be seedlings, saplings or newly collected monsters, I grow them all in a high quality potting soil during the development stage...During development I am looking for maximum growth...not fine growth...promoting fine roots promotes fine branching...which is contrary to my goal during development. Once the main and secondary branches are developed and I'm ready for fine branching, I will then add something more sharp as a soil component to help establish finer roots at the next repot, as Bill suggests.
 

GrimLore

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They're strong rooted trees. They're not looking for air as much as they're looking for space to run. Long, substantial running roots give BC basal fluting. A pot defeats that, as roots can't get out of the pot. That's mostly why seedling don't develop much, if any, buttress roots that older collected trees have.
These are the first replacements for the 20 or so we lost with everything else in Spring 2015. With those I found that by doing as I have shown for two years and then going shallow but still submerged a bit they develop nicely. I feel 3 - 5 years to produce a nice older "looking" tree is ok. As you know I am familiar with them and do different anyways :oops:

Looks like a great job of growing these small cypresses. The tall pots and your soil mix no doubt lead to great drainage given the hydraulic head. When I'm asked about growing BC in standing water I make sure it's understood that the water has to be refreshed often. It's all about moisture and oxygen. Your daily flush should be ideal for that.
Thank you and yes the "way" and daily interaction is the only reason I have good success with small ones in a 3 - 5 year period. As I said earlier in this post to rockm - it has worked for me in the past and seems to be now. We all have different methods and time restraints and many times what works for me others could/would not spend the time on.

Grimmy
 

GrimLore

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I suspect this is a typo and he really meant organic! Hopefully he will chime it
Pretty certain you are correct stating that... In his recent video it is clear the plants he is using are younger and in heavy organic ;) I missed that typo and thank you for spotting it!

Grimmy
 

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