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I am still catching up on my posts on the work that I did earlier this year, this tree was actually trimmed in May, a couple of months ago. This is a short post on managing apex growth on bald cypress.  Bald cypress (BC) are very apical dominant, no matter how hard we try to bend them to our will, they will always try to grow taller and left to themselves will get out of shape quickly. You have to keep the apex in check or it will devote all of the growth to the top of the tree and the lower branches will grow very little or not any at all. If allowed to grow unchecked too long, it may abort the lowest branches entirely. Here is an example, one of my larger BC, that came out of the shoot this spring with very strong growth up top. See how the top is very full and not much has grown on the lower branches?
I know, the pictures aren’t that great, it is a difficult subject to photograph and the tree is very large so it is difficult to move in front of a proper background.  I like to start by pruning out any growth that is obviously in the wrong place, thin shoots that are too close together, and remove branches that cross that can’t be corrected with wiring.  After that, I try to remove any really strong branches, if you leave too many of these, it will cause the trunk to swell and mess up your taper.  Everything that is left is cut back to two leaves, this helps improve ramification.  Usually you will get two or three buds at the end of your cut.  This is what it looks like before I cut back what I kept:



By keeping the apex in check, you should see a little more growth on the lower branches. Be prepared, though, your BC will be at it again in a month or so, so be ready to do it all over again. Now it is time for some wire…