Bald Cypress Soil Mix

bonsairxmd

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I've thought about obtaining a bald cypress in the near future as these (along with Japanese Maples) are my favorite trees in nature

What percentage of pine bark would you recommend in my soil mix for these? I was thinking at least 50%? I've been using a mixture of Boons mix with pine bark for my deciduous trees.

Do many really leave these in trays with standing water over the summer?

I've read that they shed branches in early stages. Is there any specific age at which they stop doing this or a way to know when the branches formed will stay alive?

Thanks
 

JudyB

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I think that BC could basically be in muck and they would be fine. I used a combination of regular bonsai soil and some mushroom compost. I also actually plugged the drainage hole and kept it in standing water, but only in the summer. I never had any trouble with shedding of branches...
 

M. Frary

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Just did a search here about bald cypress. I am also thinking of getting one and wanted to know these things too. Took 5 minutes. Check it out. Found all that I needed to know. Just punch in Bald Cypress then go.
I found that some people set the pots in tubs with 2" of standing water. Also since they love moisture you can add organic material to the soil to retain moisture. If you let it sit in standing water you probably don't need to add that component. They also like full sun.
And Alligator poop probably is the best fertilizer. I would go with something else 'cause alligator poop is probably just as mean as the gator it came out of! Ha!
 
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Zach Smith

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I've thought about obtaining a bald cypress in the near future as these (along with Japanese Maples) are my favorite trees in nature

What percentage of pine bark would you recommend in my soil mix for these? I was thinking at least 50%? I've been using a mixture of Boons mix with pine bark for my deciduous trees.

Do many really leave these in trays with standing water over the summer?

I've read that they shed branches in early stages. Is there any specific age at which they stop doing this or a way to know when the branches formed will stay alive?

Thanks
Bald cypress are more resilient to poor soil mixes than most other species, and they're easiest to collect out of shallow standing water. With that said, however, it must be remembered that we cannot water as well as God and cypress needs oxygen in the root zone. A free-draining mix with frequent watering to draw air through the soil works best. A third to half pine bark will work fine.

It is possible to grow cypress in standing water on the bench, but there must be frequent air exchange so plan to change out the water weekly unless you can devise some other arrangement to get the air where the tree needs it.

As for shedding branches, this is most likely for lower branches as cypress remains top-dominant for its whole life. Newly collected trees try to regain their height, so produce strong upper branches and progressively weaker branches in the lower area. It does take effort to balance the strength, which must also be balanced with basic development needs. There's much more to it than can be written here.

Good luck with your cypress. They're my favorite bonsai species, bar none.

Zach
 
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markyscott

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I've thought about obtaining a bald cypress in the near future as these (along with Japanese Maples) are my favorite trees in nature

What percentage of pine bark would you recommend in my soil mix for these? I was thinking at least 50%? I've been using a mixture of Boons mix with pine bark for my deciduous trees.

Do many really leave these in trays with standing water over the summer?

I've read that they shed branches in early stages. Is there any specific age at which they stop doing this or a way to know when the branches formed will stay alive?

Thanks
Bald cypress are one of my favorites to grow in Houston and they'd probably do well in Oklahoma City. There are native stands as far north as Southern Illinois and planted trees in Ohio, Seattle, and other northern areas. They seem to be quite adaptable. I presently have five trees, two of which are large collected yamadori and the others are nursery-grown plants. I've had others that I've sold or given away over the years.

In terms of soil, I do not use organics, but I'd probably be in the minority here - I think most use a really heavy soil. But I can also tell you that it is not necessary for healthy bald cypress - at least not in my back yard. What you must avoid is droughting your tree - they don't tolerate it well. So some people use organics - I use a bit finer grain size to increase the water saturation and layer the top of the soil with about a quarter inch of sphagnum moss to decrease evaporation loss.

I do put them in water during the hottest part of the summer as it gives me a margin of error with the watering, but I do not leave them constantly flooded nor do I submerge the entire rootball. I use deep plastic pots and I drill drainage holes about 1 1/2 inches or so from the bottom. I water daily into the soil and it pushes water out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot and out the drainage holes in the tray.

In terms of other components of care, I keep them in full sun all year and they are heavy feeders. I use both fertilizer cakes and liquid fertilizer twice a week when I water. They need to be repotted frequently - one of mine pushes itself about an inch above the rim of the pot every year.

I've never lost any branches so I can't help you with that. But they are heavily top dominant and this will weaken lower branches over time unless you actively manage growth. But good luck - they're one of my favorite trees to grow.

Scott
 
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M. Frary

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Bald cypress are more resilient to poor soil mixes than most other species, and they're easiest to collect out of shallow standing water. With that said, however, it must be remembered that we cannot water as well as God and cypress needs oxygen in the root zone. A free-draining mix with frequent watering to draw air through the soil works best. A third to half pine bark will work fine.

It is possible to grow cypress in standing water on the bench, but there must be frequent air exchange so plan to change out the water weekly unless you can devise some other arrangement to get the air where the tree needs it.

As for shedding branches, this is most likely for lower branches as cypress remains top-dominant for its whole life. Newly collected trees try to regain their height, so produce strong upper branches and progressively weaker branches in the lower area. It does take effort to balance the strength, which must also be balanced with basic development needs. There's much more to it than can be written here.

Good luck with your cypress. They're my favorite bonsai species, bar none.

Zach
That's great info Zach. Since they are your favorite species what do they need for winter protection? Where you live not much obviously but say in Michigan? Do they take a freezing well?
Also how fast do they grow and do they heal over well once cut down.
By the way. That little Hawthorn I got from you seems to be doing well after this beautiful winter we all had.
 

Zach Smith

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That's great info Zach. Since they are your favorite species what do they need for winter protection? Where you live not much obviously but say in Michigan? Do they take a freezing well?
Also how fast do they grow and do they heal over well once cut down.
By the way. That little Hawthorn I got from you seems to be doing well after this beautiful winter we all had.
Winter protection should focus on the roots, Mike. For my Michigan clients I recommend an unheated garage or cold frame. I got hit with a couple 15 degree nights with snow and ice this winter, and did an unplanned experiment with trees on the bench. The cypresses came through fine, as did the hawthorns. I lost a number of water elms, a winged elm and a variety of other trees.

They grow fast and will heal trunk chops completely in time. Depending on the tree they are sometimes chopped and carved to induce taper, and this type of cut takes longer to heal. The good news is, since the chops are near the apex there's plenty of growth there to help with the healing process.

I'm so glad the hawthorn is doing well. Neat little tree.

Zach
 

Zach Smith

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Here's a good illustration of what I was talking about in the post above. This cypress was collected in February of this year. You can see how plentiful and strong the shoots near the top of the tree are. A couple measure 1/4" thick at the base already. The shoots lower down the tree are less plentiful and not as strong. The tree just wants to get tall again.

Zach
 

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jkd2572

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I grow mine in 50/50 decomposed pine bark/ expanded shale. They grow like weeds. The sun is fierce here and mine gets afternoon shade.
 

bonsairxmd

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Anyone try the dwarf Peve Minaret? That and the full size Shawnee Brave are the two varieties common in nurseries here.
 

Dav4

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Anyone try the dwarf Peve Minaret? That and the full size Shawnee Brave are the two varieties common in nurseries here.
The I've seen peve minarets with nice tapered trunks with movement but they're always grafted...that will be the obstacle to overcome with this one. The Shawnee brave is supposed to be a thin upright cultivar and I'm not sure how that would be an improvement on the regular species.
 

markyscott

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Anyone try the dwarf Peve Minaret? That and the full size Shawnee Brave are the two varieties common in nurseries here.
I have a Peve Minaret. Clearly grafted -I got it thinking I would graft foliage onto another tree. But it grows well and I like the foliage.

Scott
 

markyscott

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Could always air layer the dwarf above the graft union?
Always a possibility, but the trunk is nothing to right home about. I bought it for the foliage at brussels a couple of years ago - still looking for the right trunk.

Scott
 

Mellow Mullet

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I, along with my dad, have been growing bald cypress for years.

I use lava and pinebark, 50/50, most of the time it is recycled soil from repotting of other trees, blad cypress aren't too particular. The pots are submerged in a tub of water, up to the rim of the pot, from early spring until late fall. They love it and grow like weeds, a couple have developed knees.

Don't know much about what to do for the winter up north, here I just remove them from the water and let them sit on the bench. This particular winter we had a terrible ice storm and I set them on the ground. The pots were completely covered with ice, not snow, up to 2-3 inches up the trunk. All survived with no issues.

John
 
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JudyB

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For BC winter protection here in Ohio, I just bury the pots next to the house in a wind protected location.
 

Mellow Mullet

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Forgot to mention, I don't think that it is necessay to change out the water. I have never changed mine, other that topping the container off, and have suffered no problems. I even had one that was growning in muck with no holes in the pot (cutdown five gallon bucket) and it grew fine for several years, no repotting. Around here, they grow in some very stagnate water with no circulation in nature.

John
 

carp

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Mellow Mullet has pretty much said everything I was going to say about the topic. I recently collected a Bald Cypress with a 22in trunk, hacked nearly all the roots off to fit it into a grow box, filled it with an organic mix of peat, pine bark, and sand, then place the tree into a kiddy pool filled with water. Its been doing great, and has been budding out from head to toe here in Florida. This blog post here shows how it was collected and potted.

http://godzilladontplay.wordpress.com/2014/03/02/in-american-we-speak-american-and-eat-mexican-food-2/

Right now I'm in New York, so I can't take pictures of how it has budded out since being collected but its responded greatly. I'll post photo's when I get home 5/21.

As far as an established bonsai goes; I've been told the best soil mix is 1:1 bonsai mix and organic mix. For example, the "standard" bonsai mix in Florida is; red lava, turface and pine bark 1:1:1; and we mix that with something like Miracle Gro 1:1. I've talked to a few people that say that 100% organic and 100% bonsai mix doesn't produce the same good root systems as the 1:1 bonsai, organic mix.

Really though, as long as you water based on the tree's needs for the soil substrate you are using, you should have no problems. One other reason the trees are submerged (here in Florida, most people only do it during the summer months) in water is to prevent root mites; but like Mellow Mullet said, it's the hottest months of the year and they love being wet....they grow wild in standing water.
 

bonsairxmd

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I have a Peve Minaret. Clearly grafted -I got it thinking I would graft foliage onto another tree. But it grows well and I like the foliage.

Scott
Would you mind posting a picture of your Peve Minaret? I like the foliage better on those as well. Do they form the same nice looking trunks with flaky bark and such as the full sized cultivars?
 

sikadelic

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I had mine in pots with no drainage last year but was only using pine bark and turface. I noticed that the particles, being light, would float. How do you guys combat that when putting the pots in water? Maybe a screen over the top?
 

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