Taxodium distichum (Bald cypress)

AlainK

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I have a couple of bald cypress grown from seeds sown some 8-10 years ago and it's about time now to think what I can do with them.

1/ Is it possible to air-layer them?

For instance this one is about 1.30 m tall (about 4 feet). I'm planning to chop it after the second branch, on the left in the photo. But I wouldn't mind keeping the top for another project:



2/ They've begun to leaf out: is is still time to repot them?
 

YukiShiro

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good morning Alain,

yes you can air layer them, how big do you want the end bonsai to be? what dimensions? they grow very fast so I think you can build a monster trunk line in no time, just pot it up and let it go wild

btw love the maples in the back ground :D

best regards
Herman
 

AlainK

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Thanks for your reply Herman,

I was thinking of making the air-layer where I drew the "orange skirt", then chop the trunk where I put the red line, and wire the branch upward to make a new leader that I will let grow freely for a couple of years to make the difference with the base of the trunk less visible.

 

johng

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HEy AlainK... BC are so readily available to me I have never tried an airlayer but I do believe they are possible. Often times when growing in deeper water, BC will form roots at the water level...with the base of the tree actually being 2-3 feet or more below. When the water level recedes the upper level roots dry out and appear dead...as an experiment, I cut one of these trees off just below the "dead" roots...it never missed a beat!! Not exactly the same but I strongly suspect airlayers should be a reasonable process with this species.
 

AlainK

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Thanks John, that's what I suspected but it's good to have advice from people who see the trees grow in their natural habitat.

They're very adaptative though, there are some really big ones here in parks, most of them planted by ponds. The bigger ones have these knees that are so characteristic of the species. I have some photos somewhere, but can't find them...
 

fredman

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Yeah I agree with that. It rolls over quickly, and will taper well. I cut mine to high few years ago and now have to do it again...:(
 

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Wherever you chop, make sure it's at a 45 degree angle or less. More produces a bad, unnatural looking scar. Consider this example vs this one. I finally got rid of the tree with the bad chop - it'll take years to heal.
 

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Wherever you chop, make sure it's at a 45 degree angle or less. More produces a bad, unnatural looking scar. Consider this example vs this one. I finally got rid of the tree with the bad chop - it'll take years to heal.
No insult intended but the second cut looks like doo-doo caca. I sand mine smooth with to promote the roll. Is it possible it is taking longer because of the rough surface?
 

markyscott

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No insult intended but the second cut looks like doo-doo caca. I sand mine smooth with to promote the roll. Is it possible it is taking longer because of the rough surface?
Could be, but it's also true that the cut area increases a lot as the angle grows. And it's not just that it hasn't healed, the trunk will always be unnaturally flat where it was cut. I can also show you a trident where I tried the same thing. The cut at 45 has long since healed. The one at a higher angle is still open and will likely never heal properly.
 

Vin

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Could be, but it's also true that the cut area increases a lot as the angle grows. And it's not just that it hasn't healed, the trunk will always be unnaturally flat where it was cut. I can also show you a trident where I tried the same thing. The cut at 45 has long since healed. The one at a higher angle is still open and will likely never heal properly.
No need to show me, I completely understand the greater the angle the more area to heal over. I haven't made any chops greater than 45 degrees but I never considered if I did that they would take that much longer to heal if they even heal at all. I will keep that in mind next time I make a chop. Thanks.
 

Chad D

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Maybe Zach will chime in. I was thinking he recommends a flat chop due to how BC heal?
 

AlainK

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Thanks everyone for your tips.

Wherever you chop, make sure it's at a 45 degree angle or less. More produces a bad, unnatural looking scar. Consider this example vs this one. I finally got rid of the tree with the bad chop - it'll take years to heal.
I'll bear thet in mind: it shows well on a Liquidambar styraciflua I have, it had a fork near the base. First chop:



Second chop, higher on the trunk. The fact that it's apical dominant probably helped too:

 

AaronThomas

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Curious as to approximately how long an air layer would take on a BC.
 

fredman

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if you want a better looking transition on a larger tree, then after you chop, carve about 1/8" groove all the way around your chop. That way the new growth rolls into the groove. It will help reduce swelling.
Interesting. Never heard of that. I'm not so sure exactly where the groove should be. Can you or somebody else maybe draw a pic or a virt or something of it please?
 

Zach Smith

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Maybe Zach will chime in. I was thinking he recommends a flat chop due to how BC heal?
The flat chop is only the first stage of the process. The apical growth is super strong, so the flat chop is designed to inhibit the callusing near the new leader - it more or less provides a "shelf" the callus has to roll up over which is not as easy as rolling past an angled cut (causing reverse taper). After year one of regrowing the new leader, an angled cut is made from halfway across the flat chop away from the leader, as you would any other angled cut. Since you're regrowing a strong leader using the grow and clip technique, you want to keep the callus from rolling too fast and the shelf of wood it has to get past does the trick. By year three, you can go in and carve out the excess wood off your shelf and allow the natural healing process to continue. By that time, you generally have a fine tapering transition into your new apex.

Zach
 

Chad D

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The flat chop is only the first stage of the process. The apical growth is super strong, so the flat chop is designed to inhibit the callusing near the new leader - it more or less provides a "shelf" the callus has to roll up over which is not as easy as rolling past an angled cut (causing reverse taper). After year one of regrowing the new leader, an angled cut is made from halfway across the flat chop away from the leader, as you would any other angled cut. Since you're regrowing a strong leader using the grow and clip technique, you want to keep the callus from rolling too fast and the shelf of wood it has to get past does the trick. By year three, you can go in and carve out the excess wood off your shelf and allow the natural healing process to continue. By that time, you generally have a fine tapering transition into your new apex.

Zach
Thanks Zach! Is there a timeframe when they stop dropping smaller branches?
 

Zach Smith

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BC can and will drop smaller branches for quite some time. I'm sure this is a natural part of their growth habit. It's common to see non-shoots and what I'd call non-extending shoots that grow to a certain length and just stop. These don't tend to come through winter. If a shoot continues extending throughout the growing season (allowing for periods of rest), it tends to last and can be developed into a branch.
 

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