Bald Cypress timing in PacNW

cishepard

Mame
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Regarding trunk chopping of nursery stock. My research shows that some suggest this is spring work, before buds open, while others say summer is better, as long as there is time for new growth to establish before frost (90 days is mentioned here and there).
Does anyone have any specific advice for my area? I am on the east coast of Vancouver Island - very similar weather to Seattle. Our first frost is usually around Nov. 1, so 120 days from now, and we are having an unusually hot early summer.

The tree in question is a 5 ft. tall dwarf bald cypress - Taxodium distichum ‘Seacrest’. From what I gather, all the foliage is grafted to the top as the cultivar normally has short, almost bush like growth, developed originally from a witches broom. I can’t see the graft. Presumably the trunk is some more common variety, that will present different foliage.
In many ways, I would love to air layer the tree leaving the top with a 12 to 18” trunk, but I can find very few positive accounts of layering a bald cypress. The cultivars foliage is beautiful, but I did buy the tree for the base, so that is my priority.

So, the questions I hope to have answered are:

Is it worth trying the air layer? Would I risk killing the lower trunk since it has no foliage at this time? And when would you recommend starting that process?
And If I don’t do the layer, should I go ahead and shorten the tree now (and possibly do the roots and repot at the same time) or wait until spring?
Thanks in advance for your insights and advice!

20210630_155936_Original.jpeg

The tree had some very tight tape to attach it to a bamboo pole, which left marks on the tree; I don’t know if these will disappear over time or always be a mar on the trunk of the air layer:

20210630_155958_Original.jpeg
 

andrewiles

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I can't help with whether a trunk chop is doable now, but I'll add what little I know based on 1 year of growing them.

I chopped 2 nursery trees of the plain species of about that size late this winter, before bud break. I also cut off most of their roots and screwed them to boards. Really aggressive work that would kill most trees, I'd think. Planted in water-logged containers. Both are doing just fine now, no issues. So, at least late winter trunk chops and root work are fine in our climate.

I've also had success with hardwood cuttings. I basically took the top of my trunk chops, cut them into pieces, and stuck in potting soil. In late winter. I'd say about half of the branches are growing, and appear to have roots, not just leaves from residual stored energy. They need to be in shade though, or they will dry out before roots grow (which in our climate seems to be June, not earlier). I'm having a bit less success right now with softwood cuttings, but it's still early.

On your tree: imho, the upper trunk doesn't have a lot of movement and the air layer risk may not be worth it. Even if you try air layering I'd first create a bunch of cuttings for future material. They grow so fast, especially in standing water, that you might as well set yourself up for lots of future material before risking what you have. So perhaps softwood cuttings now, hardwood cuttings this winter, and then air layer next spring. And yeah, I'd expect you get a nice trunk of the plain species at the end, which you should probably cut off a few inches from the ground.
 

cishepard

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Thanks Andrew (I presume?). How thick were your hardwood cuttings? Did you keep them outside the whole time in the cold weather? I think that’s a good idea.
The upper trunk actually has a big curve and lot’s of branching from a different angle - hard to get a good shot with all the branches. I think it has potential to be a nice tree, albeit with no taper or flare at the bottom if I leave a section of the upper trunk.
I would even consider using the top as a landscape tree - seems such a pity to waste it. I’m sure everyone here has heard that a million times, lol.
It would be great if I could just throw the whole top half in one of my lily ponds and have it root …20210630_173315_Original.jpeg
 

andrewiles

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I'm having some success with hardwood cuttings from pencil width to thumb width. Most folks typically say pencil size, from what I recall.

And yeah, they are outside and have been since the beginning. I tried a few indoors on a heated mat over the winter but they failed. Ended up covered in mold. Seems leaving them out in the elements and letting them wake up with the season is a good approach.

I'd say go for an air layer. Just have to be willing to accept the loss if it doesn't take. I'm trying a small air layer on a BC right now -- should know if it's successful in a few weeks.
 

andrewiles

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Just that the layer may not take and you may lose the top. If there is no foliage below the layer you might then lose the bottom too.

Btw, this is one of the trees I mentioned. First 2 photos from March 2nd.
PXL_20210303_003251224 (1).jpgPXL_20210303_003853833.PORTRAIT (1).jpg

And this photo from a few minutes ago:
PXL_20210701_022311768.jpg
 

jason biggs

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seems pretty HAWT in your valley :cool:
they reckon 49.5 degrees in Canada somewhere....
keep your pot submerged - nice tree by the way.
 

cishepard

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Bald cypress layer very very easily.

@choppychoppy Are there any threads where you’ve outlined some of your experiences? I’ve been scrounging for information but mostly come up with people who have failed attempts. Do you agree that if the airlayer fails, it could risk the whole tree dying?
 

Cofga

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Air layer the graft and then chop the lower portion when you separate the layer. I have chopped these mid-summer and they just push out new growth in response. I have never air layered a BC just chopped them. You might get it to root this summer but I think I would wait and do it in 22 as I have no idea how vigorus that variety is. If your heat wave settles in I have no idea how it would respond. I just had an air layered elm start pushing out new roots in 3 weeks but our temps have been in the mid to upper 70s and I expect to be able to remove it in another 3 weeks.
 

Elihatt

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Air layer the graft and then chop the lower portion when you separate the layer. I have chopped these mid-summer and they just push out new growth in response. I have never air layered a BC just chopped them. You might get it to root this summer but I think I would wait and do it in 22 as I have no idea how vigorus that variety is. If your heat wave settles in I have no idea how it would respond. I just had an air layered elm start pushing out new roots in 3 weeks but our temps have been in the mid to upper 70s and I expect to be able to remove it in another 3 weeks.
I’ve also had success with late chops of younger bald cypress, though I am in Arkansas zone 7. Last summer I chopped two bald cypress that were an inch to inch and half thick (from Walmart’s poor health reject pile so not vigorously growing at all) about this time leaving no foliage and bare rooted them before cutting back roots hard. Both were a giant ball of green foliage by the time autumn came around. Resilient trees
 

Shankapotomus

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One of my favorite species 😍 That’s a very healthy looking tree! I can’t wait to see your progress with it. My bald cypress I got this year we’re just left to do their thing since I didn’t know much about them (and still don’t know that much). From what I’ve read and being in SoCal I could probably still work them, as we have PLENTY of summer left down here.

From what I’ve read I might give it a try, but make cuttings like Andrew recommend and being mindful of weird dropped temps and maybe bring it in for the night so it doesn’t think winter/fall is early. But that’s just me. I’m pushing a few of my trees to see what the species can handle since I’m very new to Bonsai and it seems like the seasons we have here don’t follow any rules 🙄
 

choppychoppy

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@choppychoppy Are there any threads where you’ve outlined some of your experiences? I’ve been scrounging for information but mostly come up with people who have failed attempts. Do you agree that if the airlayer fails, it could risk the whole tree dying?


Its no different than any layer really. Start em late spring and by midsummer they are usually full of roots. The layers need to stay very moist. I don't have any threads doing it but me and many in my area have had success. You may need a greenhouse in your area to keep humidity up.
 

cishepard

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Its no different than any layer really. Start em late spring and by midsummer they are usually full of roots. The layers need to stay very moist. I don't have any threads doing it but me and many in my area have had success. You may need a greenhouse in your area to keep humidity up.
Thanks for that … I do have a greenhouse. Feeling encouraged : )
 

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