New to Bonsai. Asking for bald cypress development guidance

MJeep

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Hello all, I just joined the forum and am quite excited to start my first bald cypress bonsai project. A little backstory:

I collected this BC in southern Florida in 2019 while I was working down there, and moved it back with me to upstate NY in late summer 2019. I put it in a temporary pot for the move which it stayed in through the winter of 2019-2020, and repotted it into this clay pot in spring of 2020 where it then produced all of the lignified growth you see here. There's a thin layer of lava rocks on the bottom, filled with primarily pine bark and all purpose potting soil with organics. I didn't do much pruning or any messing with it through 2020 to let it adjust from the shock of potting and bringing it up to yankee country. These pictures were taken today; the past week it's been budding and branching, much earlier than I was expecting since we're in the dead of winter. I'm hoping it will have an aggressive growing season this year.

It appears to be dead from where you see the upper most green growth/thickest branch on up.

I included a rough sketch of how I envision the trunk to move and display it's surface roots to the viewer. The first couple pictures will likely be the front.
Right now I'm picturing that highest, (relatively) thickest branch to be the leader, and either jin or aggressively carve the dead wood of the main trunk around this branch. At the moment I'm planning a flat top style with a jin or more hollowing out the trunk, the story being this tree was struck by lightning, or was damaged by a hurricane which killed much of the original trunk. I pulled it from an airboat trail where it had surely been beaten up pretty well.

I want to carve some of that bark and cambium above the leader this spring to kill the top of it if it isn't already dead, and let the leader grow with a bit more space away from the old trunk, and divert any nutrients from slipping past the leader.

Some questions for the experts: do you think it is safe to carve around the diameter of the dead trunk and facilitate a more natural new leader?
When should main branch wiring of these lignified branches take place, maybe in the middle of the growing season when they're "wet" or after a mid season defoliation?
Any interesting or obvious designs I'm not picturing you may suggest?

Thank you!
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Has this tree been inside at all? Little surprised it's pushing green this time of year for your area.
 

MJeep

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Has this tree been inside at all? Little surprised it's pushing green this time of year for your area.
Same here, it's been inside my apartment living room since this past fall. It didn't have a very strong growing season in 2020 after I brought it up, so maybe it's had some pent up energy?
 

sorce

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The light is getting longer. Chickens ain't going in till about 530-6 now! That's why it's growing! That and the nice cozy warm indoor temps!

Welcome to Crazy!

Nice drawing, but you gotta plan for life before planning for design!

Best go wax a KJ and Paint a fence I reckon.

Sorce
 

Underdog

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Mine is buried in Ohio snow just glaring at me.
 
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Same here, it's been inside my apartment living room since this past fall. It didn't have a very strong growing season in 2020 after I brought it up, so maybe it's had some pent up energy?
I'm not sure what best course of action would be from here, but not the right time for big chops and cuts.

Usually when folks talk to winter storage for plants, it's in a cold, dark place like an unheated garage. That's a full time outdoor tree.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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As said above, Bald Cypress is a "full time outdoor tree". When people "up north" protect their Bald Cypress from extreme cold, that protection, for best results, MUST be less than 40 F or 4 C. In the ground, bald cypress are hardy to zone 5a, maybe even colder. In bonsai pots, the roots seem to need protection from extreme cold, but the roots are good to at least +15 F ( -9 C ). If the bald cypress is stored for the winter in too warm an environment, it will leaf out long before it is safe to leaf out. Then you have the issue you are in, weak growth due to insufficient light.

What to do with the tree now? You really have no choice, the tree has started growing, there is no forcing it back into dormancy. Just keep it as bright as you possibly can. Then once danger of a hard freeze has passed, move the tree outdoors. Start in shade, moving it every 3 to 5 days to a spot with more sun, full sun after 2 weeks outdoors.

Later, toward middle or end of summer, you can prune back the weak growth that developed in the dim environment of your home.

Next year, just before the ground freezes, plunge the pot into a flower bed, up to the rim of the pot. Then add and inch or two of mulch. This is called "healing in", in this situation, the bald cypress roots will be protected by warmth from the ground, and it should be able to ride out a zone 5a winter.
 

Underdog

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IMG_20210131_114517566_HDR.jpg

Mine is on the far right in a pond basket. North foundation under the bench. It should wake this spring. Been in the teens here. Too late for you now to put it out tho.
 

Cadillactaste

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I have always been told...for some reason Florida BC are less cold hardy than ones in Louisiana. Not quite sure why they say that. Mine is from Florida...and winters in my controlled cold greenhouse. Temps are around 32-35F.

Yet...my Drake elm from Florida has started pushing foliage this year already. My take...and that of the one who sent it. Since his are quite dormant in Florida. The cold hours it is used to...have been met. So we need to take that into factor as well. Since its wintered along with my other well dormant trees. My Florida BC...tends to also wake earlier than others up north. Even in a cold greenhouse under dormant temps. My other Florida tree a forsythia...buds for flowers are forming as I type. Yet my trees purchased from Northern climate sellers stay dormant far longer. I notice that/southern located material are slowly taking longer to wake the longer on my bench they are. So they are acclimating to northern climate to a degree.
 

HorseloverFat

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I have always been told...for some reason Florida BC are less cold hardy than ones in Louisiana. Not quite sure why they say that. Mine is from Florida...and winters in my controlled cold greenhouse. Temps are around 32-35F.

Yet...my Drake elm from Florida has started pushing foliage this year already. My take...and that of the one who sent it. Since his are quite dormant in Florida. The cold hours it is used to...have been met. So we need to take that into factor as well. Since its wintered along with my other well dormant trees. My Florida BC...tends to also wake earlier than others up north. Even in a cold greenhouse under dormant temps. My other Florida tree a forsythia...buds for flowers are forming as I type. Yet my trees purchased from Northern climate sellers stay dormant far longer. I notice that/southern located material are slowly taking longer to wake the longer on my bench they are. So they are acclimating to northern climate to a degree.
This is FASCINATING... i enjoy observing the adaptation-style alterations in appearance/behavior that plants go through...

OL and myself were just discussing specific picea identification in another thread.

I have noticed that it SEEMS that coniferous trees in “the open” around here, for some reason, tend to have tighter.. umm more “square” foliage then even their local nursery-grown counterparts.. with picea, specifically, the differences are small.. but reoccurring.

For instance, a collected Picea Abies (in a yogurt container.. with not many roots)and a nursery Picea Abies (12” tall... 6” pot.. lotsa roots) Tried waking up last spring.. from NO protection.. all ‘sconsin winter.... the nursery stock... spent the next season slowly dying. The collection.. still exists.

This “frigid variance” in question even caused a few, hilarious recent misidentifications.. because foliage was just looked at for the id... If i’d just read a touch further.. toward the “native ranges” in the field guide. 🤣
 
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Cadillactaste

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This is FASCINATING... i enjoy observing the adaptation-style alterations in appearance/behavior that plants go through...

OL and myself were just discussing specific picea identification in another thread... coniferous trees in “the open” around here, for some reason, tend to have tighter.. umm more “square” foliage then even their local nursery-grown counterparts.. with picea, specifically, the differences are small.. but reoccurring.

For instance, a collected Picea Abies (in a yogurt container.. with not many roots)and a nursery Picea Abies (12” tall... 6” pot.. lotsa roots) Tried waking up last spring.. from NO protection.. all ‘sconsin winter.... the nursery stock... spent the next season slowly dying.

This “frigid variance” in question even caused a few, hilarious recent misidentifications.. because foliage was just looked at for the id... If i’d just read a touch further.. toward the “native ranges” in the field guide. 🤣
So...assuming you didn't protect it once it showed signs of waking while still enduring your winter elements?

I'm huge believer on acclimating a tree for finding success. If you bring it from a different climate that your own. [EDIT:Which means to me protecting it a bit more than one usually would when our cold winter hit.]

Which is why when I plant landscaping...I topically buy from a local nursery who only buys from Ohio growers. My trees/shrubs tend to handle our winters. I caved...and bought a lavender twist at another nursery...and lost it over winter. Who knows where their material came from.
 

HorseloverFat

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So...assuming you didn't protect it once it showed signs of waking while still enduring your winter elements?

I'm huge believer on acclimating a tree for finding success. If you bring it from a different climate that your own.

Which is why when I plant landscaping...I topically buy from a local nursery who only buys from Ohio growers. My trees/shrubs tend to handle our winters. I caved...and bought a lavender twist at another nursery...and lost it over winter. Who knows where their material came from.
Oh yes.. it’s a super-cool place called “Plantscapers” (Never root-bound.. great people 🤓).. about 16 miles inland...
Now this 16-mile trip DOES.. TECHNICALLY make the journey from 5b to 5a... I think it’s just that the nursery semi-cold frames in the winter.. it never actually KNEW the outside winter.

Whereas the collection, grew up living out of the side of a bluff.. real dang close to the water... extra-wind without a buffer.

Luckily it was a 10 dollar fall-clearance tree.. and I learned something...and came to a conclusion.

I‘ll just protect ALL my outdoor trees (that arent in coldframe).. it’s COLD! 🤣 It seems stupid, now, looking back, NOT to.

🤓
 

Cadillactaste

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Oh yes.. it’s a super-cool place called “Plantscapers” (Never root-bound.. great people 🤓).. about 16 miles inland...
Now this 16-mile trip DOES.. TECHNICALLY make the journey from 5b to 5a... I think it’s just that the nursery semi-cold frames in the winter.. it never actually KNEW the outside winter.

Whereas the collection, grew up living out of the side of a bluff.. real dang close to the water... extra-wind without a buffer.

Luckily it was a 10 dollar fall-clearance tree.. and I learned something...and came to a conclusion.

I‘ll just protect ALL my outdoor trees (that arent in coldframe).. it’s COLD! 🤣 It seems stupid, now, looking back, NOT to.

🤓
As long as one learns a lesson in the loss. It wasn't for naught.
 

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