Collecting a Bald Cypress

Vic N

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I have a BC that will be dug up this spring (correct?) and I need some advice on how to get the job done so that I do more good than harm! This tree was grown as a landscape tree for 7-8 yrs. and was moved once with a spade truck 4 yrs ago. Last year it was taken down to approx. 5'. It is growing in very wet soil and seems to love it there.

So how do I proceed? How far out from the trunk should I dig? (caliper at soil is maybe 8") How deep?
Should I put it in a large grow box or put it back in the ground to develop roots?

I already have an area where I can put guy wires on this tree to stabilize it, but should it be cut down further? If I go with a 6:1 ratio should I knock it down some or leave it for jin? Like a lot of landscape BC, it does not have great taper, but my concern at this point is the health of the tree following digging it up.

Any and all advice welcome!!!

Thanks,
Vic
 
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bisjoe

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The rule of thumb is to dig up 10" for every inch of caliper, so that would in your case be an 80" radius!
Not an easy task, but that's where the roots are supposed to go at this stage. I think the fact that it was moved 4 years ago may have shortened that, since the 10/1 is based on a tree not having been moved.

Of course, unless you gave a huge bonsai pot, eventually those roots will be cut anyway. If you do it this spring (early spring) I'd suggest a large grow box, to develop new feeder roots, then post a picture for styling ideas.
 

Tachigi

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Vic, I know your not going to want to hear this....but...here goes.
The best way which is almost fool proof, note I said almost, is to make this a couple year project. If you root prune the tree while its stays in the ground you will significantly increase your odds of the tree surviving.

Imagine a circle around the tree divided into quarters. This coming year you root prune the roots in the quarters that oppose each other. Then pack them with sphagnum and maybe a little hormone for good luck. You want to cut them back to something manageable when the tree is lifted. The following year you do the same thing to the other set of opposing quarters. By the spring of year 3 your ready to lift the tree. By then you should have nice bunch of fine feeder roots. With possibly only a tap root to contend with. This may be negated by it being lifted previously.

I am doing the same right now on a dozen junipers that are a 100+ years old nice fat gnarled trunks. However my plan is a lot longer since I am trying to tighten up foliage along the way. At this point I have more than 60 percent fine feeder roots with in 14 inches of the base. A long term commitment but when they hit a pot will be they best on the east coast..and perhaps rival some on the west.

So the question is: Is this tree worth it. To invest this type of time and commitment?
 

aredsfan

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Tom, Im confused. Is he doing the root pruning while its still in the ground, and then lifting it? or are you saying to do it after its been lifted? andy
 

Vic N

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Tom,
I'm actually already doing a similar thing with some maples ... I didn't do it in quarters tho, I just kind of dug down carefully without disturbing too many roots, and up under the trunk. I uncovered about half and then wrapped wire around the thick roots and the tap in a sort of ground layer. Then I did the other side. That was last year and they both did well this year so maybe I got lucky this time. I was going to dig them up in the spring and put into grow boxes.
I'm really not in too much of a hurry with this BC, so maybe I should try it this way. I think digging a
9' circle and trying to get that moved is out of the question!
Thanks,
Vic
 

Tachigi

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Tom, Im confused

Welcome to the club Andy :D

Yes work it in the ground and root prune it. I said it in my first paragraph but probably should of repeated it. BY doing this there is less stress on the tree and when finished you get a nice tight root mass that is ready for a pot.
 

johng

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Hey Vic,
I have collected many BC but all from the wild. I tend to disagree with some of the advice given. I am not sure where you are located but in South Carolina BC are vigorous and hardy. I collect by basically sawing the tree out of the ground. The wood is very soft and tends to split when pounded with a dull shovel. A good friend taught me the benefits of using a sharpened flat blade shovel. The benfits in terms of reduced root damage are well worth the 20 minute of filing. Anyhow, I use a long bladed folding hand saw and cut a circle around the trunk. There is no reason to make major roots cuts more than once so make your intial cut close enought to the trunk so that the tree will eventually fit in a bonsai pot. For small to medium size trees this is usually enough to allow you to bend the tree over and with a little digging get to and cut any roots that grow down. If you make your first circle and the tree still feels very solid in the ground cut another circle about 8-12" wider than the first. Then use the sharpened shovel to create a mote around the tree. At this point try to bend the trunk over so that you can cut the tap root. Cut from one side...then bend the tree the opposite way and cut from the other. Should pop right out of the ground... It usually helps to have two people for larger trees. Once the tree is out I always recut any damaged roots and once again remove any large roots that would prevent the tree from fitting into a bonsai pot. I always completely bare root BC during the collection process. Once you have place your newly collected tree in a large nursery container or box, cover the root spread with at least a couple inches of soil for the first year. I usually will allow the containers to sit in shallow trays of water for the first couple of months.

BC are typically very easy to collect. They bud back very well and can survive collecting with only minimal roots. Unlike other deciduios trees, I think it is better to wait until the tree is very actively growing and warm weather is guaranteed. The majority of BC that I have lost have been due to collecting to early in the spring. All in all I believe that BC is a very good candidate for bonsai training.

Unless you want a 5-6' tree I would go ahead with reduction during collecting. I guess there are multiple view points here, but I believe it is best with this species to go ahead and do the major work all at the same time. Of course, waiting to do the trunk chop would probably be fine as well.

Good luck...
John
 

Vic N

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Thanks, John.
I'm not too sure about any of it right now ... that's one reason I started this thread now, so I could get plenty of input (read confusion) before actually doing the deed. Hey! Bonsai has already taught me to ask for help when I need it instead of assuming I can fix anything I screw up.
I understand that you may have dug a million of these but this is my first, and these are not local natives. I only have the one, so I want to do it with a high likelihood of success. I have read that BC are very likely to survive with very little roots when dug.

Any other opinions?

Thanks,

Vic
 

Dav4

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I was thinking it would make sense to do the trunk work and the root work while the tree is still in the ground, sort of what Tom was mentioning. I would guess the chop wounds would heal faster if the tree is left in the ground...certainly a thought if you are going for that 6:1 taper. As you let the trunk grow wild post chop, you can simply shovel prune the roots on 50% of the tree each spring, or go whole hog with the sphagnum moss as Tom suggested. I have a young BC in the ground that will need work in the next few years and this is what I was planning to do.

Dave
 

Rick Moquin

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Here's my take on it.

Depending what you are trying to accomplish, but most importantly the time frame you wish to accomplish this.

If time is not a factor, several options are open to you. You can carry out as Tom prescribed, pot up in a grow box, allow to fully recover and carry out the chop as required for your vision, once the tree has fully recovered.

An alternative, is to carry out the chop whilst the tree is in the ground. My rationale is that you have a reservoir of energy that will not only promote faster healing, but a profusion of back budding.

The following year carry out 50% root work and prune off all unnecessary branches. The same the following year. BY year 4 you are ready to plant out in a grow box. The necessary root work can be conducted and the tree allowed to recover the remaining of the growing season. Initial styling can be commenced during year five (no root work) I'm a firm believer in conducting root work (major) on alternate years.

Regardless of the method used, we are still looking at a 4-5 year time frame, with the exception of what John recommended.
 

Behr

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More specific advice could be given IF one knew where you actually are in the State of Missouri, IF indeed you are in Missouri...I spent the majority of my life in the State and must admit I have no clue where "Flyover" is, I've never heard of it...While you have been offered some great 'general' collection advice on several species, most of it is unnecessary with the bald cypress, and in fact only lengthens the time factor...Mr. johng has certainly given good advice on the collection of this species...There are a few species we use for bonsai which are very easy to successfully collect, and the bald cypress is among the top...You do not need a large root ball, they are best bare rooted, they may be successfully trunk chopped during collection, the larger roots do need to be covered sufficiently to keep them moist the first year, and in my opinion the prime time to collect is when the 'green zits' are clearly viable, but most haven't opened yet...There are very few species capable of creating roots where there are none, and popping buds where there is no indication of a node as well as the bald cypress...In my experience the single most detrimental thing you can do to lose a bald cypress is allow it to become dry...With better understanding of where you are actually located it is probable one could even pinpoint with-in a couple weeks the best time to collect...

Regards
Behr

:) :) :)
 

Vic N

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Sorry- Behr

More specific advice could be given IF one knew where you actually are in the State of Missouri, IF indeed you are in Missouri...I spent the majority of my life in the State and must admit I have no clue where "Flyover" is, I've never heard of it...While you have been offered some great 'general' collection advice on several species, most of it is unnecessary with the bald cypress, and in fact only lengthens the time factor...Mr. johng has certainly given good advice on the collection of this species...There are a few species we use for bonsai which are very easy to successfully collect, and the bald cypress is among the top...You do not need a large root ball, they are best bare rooted, they may be successfully trunk chopped during collection, the larger roots do need to be covered sufficiently to keep them moist the first year, and in my opinion the prime time to collect is when the 'green zits' are clearly viable, but most haven't opened yet...There are very few species capable of creating roots where there are none, and popping buds where there is no indication of a node as well as the bald cypress...In my experience the single most detrimental thing you can do to lose a bald cypress is allow it to become dry...With better understanding of where you are actually located it is probable one could even pinpoint with-in a couple weeks the best time to collect...

Regards
Behr

:) :) :)

Sorry- Behr,
Flyover was my attempt at humor .... I thought all of Mo. was flyover country. I've redone my
User CP. My cypress usually starts to show green later than everything else here, as much as a month after the apples bloom.

I am really more concerned with the survival of the tree than with how much time everything takes. If you've seen any of my other posts, you know I have a tendency to be impatient, but I'll not rush this. If I screw this up, I can't just pop down to my local swamp .... I'm about as far from the bootheel as I can be and still have a Missouri address. Obviously no one can assure me that this way or that way is guaranteed to succeed, and I'm definitely going to dig the tree, but above all I want to be as sure as I can be that the tree will survive. I've had success with maples both bare rooting then re-planting, and with digging in and around the existing roots to cut the big ones so they will send out finer feeder roots. I'm happy to get opinions from all collectors. And I thank you for yours!

Vic
 

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