Simulating floods for bald cypress taper.

19Mateo83

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I know this is a hotly debated subject on here. Some like to grow dry, some like to grow wet…. No one floods. I’m taking a note from @Cajunrider and @Maiden69 and maybe blending the two methods that seem to consistently get good results and try something a little different. My hope is to simulate the water level in a swamp and the periodical flooding that occurs in hopes of helping BC grow the trunk flare that the collected ones are known for.
I took one of the large cement mixing tubs and drilled 1 inch drain holes about 2/3 up on the sides. I then covered these holes with mesh in hopes of slowing down the drainage to the point that the tub floods when it rains but can slowly drain back to its normal “non flood stage” level.
I then proceeded to make a soil soup. The soil I used was leftovers from my bamboo propagation which is normal topsoil mixed with sand and manure. I filled the soil right up to the drain holes and topped the tub off with about an inch of water and nestled the cypress pots down in the muck. The roots will be able to escape the pots and when it is in “flood stage” the whole root ball is submerged with the exception of the ones in the tall pots. The drain hole idea worked perfectly. The tub fills up completely with water and over the course of the day it slowly drains down and the top 1/3 of the root balls are left above water. I also figured out I can adjust the speed it drains by playing with the drain screens. Ideally I want it to stay flooded for a day or two at a time. If I notice a difference in growth or development of basal flares I will start growing directly in the tubs with this method.

At “flood stage” the ones in shorter pots have their roots fully submerged.
73572CED-F8C8-4200-9CCC-39E26F1D6E29.jpeg
I had to pack them all in but they fit. There is 9 in pots that the surface will stay above the water and 5 in pots that will get submerged. Getting it somewhat level on my sloping ground was important.
2AB5443B-3D13-4219-AC66-7B7199C6FB6F.jpeg
You can see where the soil level is when it’s drained all the way down to the drain holes. I tested it with only about an inch of water and it took 5 hours for that inch to drain out.
52D3B5F7-C345-4324-A1A5-C36A94A84256.jpeg
Science if fun, fully flooded pictures to come tomorrow.
 
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Maiden69

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Interesting to see the results... but anything that you can do to add water will net you better results than to grow them dry. One thing I think will be counter productive is the "soil soup" muck-mud that you created, it will eventually fill the void and you will have less water every week. I used pea gravel the first time, but only about 1/2" of them, and big lava and pumice (3/8"-1/2") on the large tree, but you can use course sand and I think it will be better. Either way, I don't have anything in the new ones and the roots are growing fine inside the water. Also, @Mellow Mullet don't use any aggregate, just water between the tub and the pot with the same results.

One word of advise, overpot BC's, especially the ones you have in the small pots. I did that mistake with my seedlings and paid the price with coarse circulating roots too close to the trunk.

This BC started to push out of the terracotta pot I used the very first season, it was late summer and I didn't want to risk messing with the roots so I slip it into the grow bag with more soil around it. As you can see in APR 2022, the beginning of its second season the roots have thicken to the point that I will either need to find a way to incorporate them in the design, or ground layer the tree in order to make it useable. Have I known better, I would have gone with a MUCH larger pot, or gone the Rootpouch method from the beginning.

BTW, you don't need any mosquito repellent, use some of this every 2-3 weeks and you will be fine.

BC roots.jpg
 

Cajunrider

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Interesting to see the results... but anything that you can do to add water will net you better results than to grow them dry. One thing I think will be counter productive is the "soil soup" muck-mud that you created, it will eventually fill the void and you will have less water every week. I used pea gravel the first time, but only about 1/2" of them, and big lava and pumice (3/8"-1/2") on the large tree, but you can use course sand and I think it will be better. Either way, I don't have anything in the new ones and the roots are growing fine inside the water. Also, @Mellow Mullet don't use any aggregate, just water between the tub and the pot with the same results.

One word of advise, overpot BC's, especially the ones you have in the small pots. I did that mistake with my seedlings and paid the price with coarse circulating roots too close to the trunk.

This BC started to push out of the terracotta pot I used the very first season, it was late summer and I didn't want to risk messing with the roots so I slip it into the grow bag with more soil around it. As you can see in APR 2022, the beginning of its second season the roots have thicken to the point that I will either need to find a way to incorporate them in the design, or ground layer the tree in order to make it useable. Have I known better, I would have gone with a MUCH larger pot, or gone the Rootpouch method from the beginning.

View attachment 447648
The mud muck works well for me. It cheaply provides nutrients the trees wants. As long as the roots are completely wet, the trees don’t care.
I use flat on top of muck for one thing only. It prepares my roots well for transitioning to bonsai pot later. It allows me to wire the tree to the flat and keep it stable with very shallow roots. No more struggling to put the tree in shallow pot. They are ready whenever I want to put in bonsai pot. The one time that I killed a BC was from reducing the root height way too much on a tree that had low energy reserve.
BTW I do flood, twice a week my tubs for the young trees are completely filled. The level will go down about an inch in 3 days and they are refilled again. In the picture below, when the tub is full, the trees are submerged to the soil line.
In the tub, the BC on the left is in the beginning of refining and are already in bonsai soil while the one of the right is in potting soil for maximum growth.
BC2.jpeg
 
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sorce

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Can these moccasin dodgers explain what the bottom of the swamp is?

What type of roots penetrate depths...what doesn't?

I took pause at the title because it doesn't really make any sense that the flood in particular is what causes root growth, since these areas are always wet beyond the tree's capacity to use all the water, so temporary periods of more water is only raising the water amount beyond what was already being used at max capacity.

So to what extent would the flood, or excess water actually effect the flare of the base?

Perhaps the pressure exerted on the top by the water, but that's a long shot IMO, I don't see any other benefits or changes that could be beneficial.

I recently dug a garden bed close to where I have pooling water after a rain. Underneath a thick weed mat sort of thing, placed there I assume to protect what were some grape Vines, was a completely dead, almost black clay, so dense that it was causing the pooling.

Makes me think the bottom surface of the swamp, whatever we'll be told about it, in it's nature of being dense enough to pool water, may have more to do with the flare than water.

This matches our idea of pancaking a maple nebari flat on a solid surface.

Add in what we know about heavily watered areas creating close root masses and the high CEC of clay......

And I'd like to see you experiment with something like a very wide pot, like a kiddie pool, with a mixture of clay and organic fertilizer packed to this dense level of a couple inches, and see if that doesn't quicker make a swampy flare.

#whenthefloodcomesI'llbefloating

Sorce
 

Cajunrider

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Can these moccasin dodgers explain what the bottom of the swamp is?

What type of roots penetrate depths...what doesn't?

I took pause at the title because it doesn't really make any sense that the flood in particular is what causes root growth, since these areas are always wet beyond the tree's capacity to use all the water, so temporary periods of more water is only raising the water amount beyond what was already being used at max capacity.

So to what extent would the flood, or excess water actually effect the flare of the base?

Perhaps the pressure exerted on the top by the water, but that's a long shot IMO, I don't see any other benefits or changes that could be beneficial.

I recently dug a garden bed close to where I have pooling water after a rain. Underneath a thick weed mat sort of thing, placed there I assume to protect what were some grape Vines, was a completely dead, almost black clay, so dense that it was causing the pooling.

Makes me think the bottom surface of the swamp, whatever we'll be told about it, in it's nature of being dense enough to pool water, may have more to do with the flare than water.

This matches our idea of pancaking a maple nebari flat on a solid surface.

Add in what we know about heavily watered areas creating close root masses and the high CEC of clay......

And I'd like to see you experiment with something like a very wide pot, like a kiddie pool, with a mixture of clay and organic fertilizer packed to this dense level of a couple inches, and see if that doesn't quicker make a swampy flare.

#whenthefloodcomesI'llbefloating

Sorce
I have seedlings planted side by side and the ones in the water grow a lot more and bigger roots. I agree that having a flat surface to push against flare the root out more.
Things I have observed from having the luxury of having a track hoe to pull a BC straight out of the ground without digging or cutting any roots. I can see the entire root ball after the tree was pulled out of the ground.

1. Roots stay within the 5ft of the top ground, at least with BCs up to 25 ft tall.
2. As I mentioned before, the BCs in the swampy ground have much more roots that spread out more.

To be honest, I am pretty pumped that I haven't seen any small BCs in the swamp that has better flare than this 3 year old BC of mine.
BC2A.jpeg

Those observations get me to the point of growing my BC in flats submerged in a tub full of water.
 
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sorce

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So it could be possible,🤔, is there any literature on BC storing that water in the bases similar to a ficus?

Then I wonder if knees, which as far as I know there is no consensus on, may also be a part of that mechanism, which makes me wonder if somehow preventing knees, may increase the likelihood of the flare storing that water.

I don't have many BC to observe, but we don't get flare like the swamp, even though they tend to be close enough to water to never go dry, and sometimes in minor flood plaines. They do all have excess knees.

For the record, because I consider BC a waste of time from seed or nursery, I'd like to change that if possible.

Sorce
 

Cajunrider

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So it could be possible,🤔, is there any literature on BC storing that water in the bases similar to a ficus?

Then I wonder if knees, which as far as I know there is no consensus on, may also be a part of that mechanism, which makes me wonder if somehow preventing knees, may increase the likelihood of the flare storing that water.

I don't have many BC to observe, but we don't get flare like the swamp, even though they tend to be close enough to water to never go dry, and sometimes in minor flood plaines. They do all have excess knees.

For the record, because I consider BC a waste of time from seed or nursery, I'd like to change that if possible.

Sorce
All I can say is that, although I do now have a bunch of big honking BC stumps, I am pretty proud of my 3 yr old from seed tree you see above. None of my stumps have better flare. Well the ones that I schedule to collect next spring will but then it is a giant tree with a humongous base that is at least 24" above the water level. I can see some of the root below it that it will be a huge base. Perhaps too big for bonsai? Be what it may, the track hoe is reserved for that event.
 

19Mateo83

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Interesting to see the results... but anything that you can do to add water will net you better results than to grow them dry. One thing I think will be counter productive is the "soil soup" muck-mud that you created, it will eventually fill the void and you will have less water every week. I used pea gravel the first time, but only about 1/2" of them, and big lava and pumice (3/8"-1/2") on the large tree, but you can use course sand and I think it will be better. Either way, I don't have anything in the new ones and the roots are growing fine inside the water. Also, @Mellow Mullet don't use any aggregate, just water between the tub and the pot with the same results.

One word of advise, overpot BC's, especially the ones you have in the small pots. I did that mistake with my seedlings and paid the price with coarse circulating roots too close to the trunk.

This BC started to push out of the terracotta pot I used the very first season, it was late summer and I didn't want to risk messing with the roots so I slip it into the grow bag with more soil around it. As you can see in APR 2022, the beginning of its second season the roots have thicken to the point that I will either need to find a way to incorporate them in the design, or ground layer the tree in order to make it useable. Have I known better, I would have gone with a MUCH larger pot, or gone the Rootpouch method from the beginning.

BTW, you don't need any mosquito repellent, use some of this every 2-3 weeks and you will be fine.

View attachment 447648
3 of my seedlings in the smallest pots are planted with washers around the tap root. I don’t see them having root issues this year. Over potting and separation is on the agenda for the rest of them next spring. Probably into individual smaller tubs with this method.
 

19Mateo83

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The mud muck works well for me. It cheaply provides nutrients the trees wants. As long as the roots are completely wet, the trees don’t care.
I use flat on top of muck for one thing only. It prepares my roots well for transitioning to bonsai pot later. It allows me to wire the tree to the flat and keep it stable with very shallow roots. No more struggling to put the tree in shallow pot. They are ready whenever I want to put in bonsai pot. The one time that I killed a BC was from reducing the root height way too much on a tree that had low energy reserve.
BTW I do flood, twice a week my tubs for the young trees are completely filled. The level will go down about an inch in 3 days and they are refilled again. In the picture below, when the tub is full, the trees are submerged to the soil line.
In the tub, the BC on the left is in the beginning of refining and are already in bonsai soil while the one of the right is in potting soil for maximum growth.
View attachment 447650
I you are the inspiration for pots in tubs of muck 😉
 

19Mateo83

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Can these moccasin dodgers explain what the bottom of the swamp is?

What type of roots penetrate depths...what doesn't?

I took pause at the title because it doesn't really make any sense that the flood in particular is what causes root growth, since these areas are always wet beyond the tree's capacity to use all the water, so temporary periods of more water is only raising the water amount beyond what was already being used at max capacity.

So to what extent would the flood, or excess water actually effect the flare of the base?

Perhaps the pressure exerted on the top by the water, but that's a long shot IMO, I don't see any other benefits or changes that could be beneficial.

I recently dug a garden bed close to where I have pooling water after a rain. Underneath a thick weed mat sort of thing, placed there I assume to protect what were some grape Vines, was a completely dead, almost black clay, so dense that it was causing the pooling.

Makes me think the bottom surface of the swamp, whatever we'll be told about it, in it's nature of being dense enough to pool water, may have more to do with the flare than water.

This matches our idea of pancaking a maple nebari flat on a solid surface.

Add in what we know about heavily watered areas creating close root masses and the high CEC of clay......

And I'd like to see you experiment with something like a very wide pot, like a kiddie pool, with a mixture of clay and organic fertilizer packed to this dense level of a couple inches, and see if that doesn't quicker make a swampy flare.

#whenthefloodcomesI'llbefloating

Sorce
This is only the beginning and just proof of idea stage. Next year I do plan on directly potting these into their own shallow tubs. You are right, a kiddy pool would work nicely. I have always heard that the knees grow to supply oxygen to the roots in flooded areas. How true this I do not know but I’m hoping the flooding plays a role in the mechanics of root/basal flare/knee development. Im wondering if the clay bottom in a swamp theory is quite the opposite…. Maybe the trees spread their roots shallow to give a larger foot print close to the oxygen because at depth the soil is anaerobic. Just a theory..
 

Cajunrider

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So it could be possible,🤔, is there any literature on BC storing that water in the bases similar to a ficus?

Then I wonder if knees, which as far as I know there is no consensus on, may also be a part of that mechanism, which makes me wonder if somehow preventing knees, may increase the likelihood of the flare storing that water.

I don't have many BC to observe, but we don't get flare like the swamp, even though they tend to be close enough to water to never go dry, and sometimes in minor flood plaines. They do all have excess knees.

For the record, because I consider BC a waste of time from seed or nursery, I'd like to change that if possible.

Sorce
I can send you BC cones from a huge BC grown completely in dry ground and have sent so many knees every where in a 30 ft radius. Per chance the genetic of that tree is different than others without knees?
 

Cofga

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At his nursery Bruce Appledorn has a number of large BC growing in dry ground and he mows the area under them regularly to keep the knees under control. I was amazed at how many knees there were in there.
 

Mellow Mullet

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I think you need to submerge them deeper, all the way to the soil level. I do not use an ebb and flow, I keep them submerge to the soil, 9 moths a year. This is the time of the year where I see a lot of trunk girth being built and knees putting on mass.
 

Cajunrider

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I think you need to submerge them deeper, all the way to the soil level. I do not use an ebb and flow, I keep them submerge to the soil, 9 moths a year. This is the time of the year where I see a lot of trunk girth being built and knees putting on mass.
Mine are pretty much submerged to the soil level and refilled regularly. In the heat of the summer that is practically every day. In the spring and fall it is twice a week.
 

rockm

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FWIW, There is evidence that some populations of Bald cypress in Texas (particularly Central Texas) don't produce knees--see "interesting facts" in the link below.
I don't know if that's true, but the above link is from Texas A&M, so go figure...I've also seen the same referenced in other places as possibly genetic.

I have a feeling that BC produce knees where there is high underground water table. Central Texas has a dome of underlying alkaline-ish coleche soil (which is fossilized sea shell) underneath topsoil that can inhibit such growth as well.
 
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