Bald Cypress I

The oldest Bald Cypress in my collection, it was started from seed sometime around 2001 or 2002.  My dad gave it to me around 2006,  I did not know much about bonsai at that time and all I did was keep it alive and maintain it.  It has spent its entire life submerged in a either a pot with no holes or in a tub of water during the warmer months.

A Few Words About Bald Cypress

     Bald Cypress, taxodium distichum, is a deciduous conifer in the family Cupressacae that grows on saturated and seasonally inundated soils in the lowlands of the Southeastern and Gulf Coastal Plains of the United States. A long-lived, pyramidal conifer (cone-bearing tree) which grows 50-70' tall (less frequently to 125'). Although it looks like a needled evergreen in summer, it is deciduous ("bald" as the common name suggests). It is native to southern swamps, bayous and rivers, primarily being found in coastal areas from Maryland to Texas and in the lower Mississippi River valley to as far north as the southeast corner of Missouri. In the deep South, it is a familiar sight growing directly in swampy water, often in large strands, with its branches heavily draped with Spanish moss. In cultivation, however, it grows very well in drier, upland soils. Trunks are buttressed (flared or fluted) at the base and often develop distinctive, knobby root growths ("knees") which protrude above the water surface or soil around the tree. Soft, feathery, yellowish-green foliage (1/4" long, flat needles in two ranks) turns an attractive orange/cinnamon-brown in fall. Rounded, wrinkled, 1 inch diameter, purplish-green cones mature to brown.
     I think that Bald Cypress are one of the best trees for a bonsai beginner tree.  They are very vigorous trees when it comes to growth, hard to over or under-water, develop roots quickly (will fill a pot in one season), and recover from a beginner's learning curve easily.  They are also quick to develop raification and are one of the few trees that can be developed into a decent sized bonsai in a short amount of time.
Another desirable characteristic is that they develop buds easily on old wood,  if you don't have a branch where you want one, just wait a week or so and it will throw a few buds out.
 

In The Beginning...

The earliest pictures that I have are these two, the one on the left is from 2004 and on the right is one from 2006.  They are exactly two years apart, both taken in April. Notice the increase in the size of the trunk and the tree overall in just two years. Submersion is the reason.  If you want to know more, check out the article I wrote on submersion here.

Growing Your Own

Bald Cypress are easy to grow from seed.  Collect the cones from mature trees in mid/ late summer when they mature.  Allow them to dry for a week or more and crack them open lto collect the triangular shaped seeds.  Sow the seeds in your favorite medium, I just use potting soil, and keep them moist.  The following Spring you should have your own forest sprouting.
A couple of random pictures taken in 2011, of what looks like a repot.  This is why it is important to document and take notes on the work that you do on your trees.  You think you will remember what you did....lol.
After I took possession of the tree, I just maintained it, I don’t have many pictures, I was not that good about tasking pictures to document progess.  I had a lot of irons in the fire, and did not have much experience with bonsai.  In 2012, I came up with a plan for it. I chopped it. Here it is in the Spring of 2013.

Growth After Chop

It exploded with  growth everywhere, the new leader grew 6 - 8 feet. Here it is at the end of summer and in December, after leaf drop.  Bald cypress are very fast growers.

Summer

Summer

December

December

In early Spring if 2014, I carved the initial chop to help the transition and shortened the new leader.
I later carved the new leader in May after it put on some new growth.  Not a great picture of the carving, but hey, look at all of that growth!
In November of 2014, I took it out of the tub of water it sits in Spring thru Fall (for more on submerging bald cypress for trunk growth, read this article, it is, to say the least, a “hot topic”on some of the bonsai forums) and I snapped a few pictures. The chop/carves are healing well and should close next year.
In the Spring of the following year, it filled in very well.  Here she is before her first trim and wiring of the year in May of 2015.
August, 2015-The pictures were taken late in the afternoon, I liked how the sun was shining through the leaves. It looks a little ratty since it is getting close to fall and this summer was very brutal. 
A couple of pictures from November 2015 showing the roots that have grown through the drain holes of the pot and into the tub of water that it stays submerged in.  They are vigorous growers, I cut them off each year, and every year they grow this many or more.

Roots Growing From the Drain Holes

Roots Removed

The lady without her clothes, we finally got enough cold to make her turn lose of her leaves.  As you can see, she is kinda leggy and could use some wire.  I realize that some of the branches are kinda long before the divide. I am hoping that when it comes out in spring it will fill in, it not, I will chop it back some.  - January 2016.
In April of 2016, the spring growth looked nice. The wires are almost ready to come off this week as some are already biting in. The chops are healing nicely, the top one is not easily picked out if you don't know what you are looking for. An oatmeal container for size in the last picture.
A picture from July when the wire was removed.  The Fall of 2016 provided enough cold to get some decent color on the foliage.  I love the burnt orange color.

July 2016

Fall 2016

February 14, 2017, it got a repot and a wiring, it had been awhile since I had repotted, so it proved to be quite the job.  For a look at the entire process, read this article.

Before the Repot

Roots Growing From the Drain Holes

Pot Completely Filled With Roots

Roots Trimmed and Cleaned, Ready for the Pot

All Potted Up

Wire Applied

Five Gallons of Roots Trimmed Off

It responded well to the repot and filled in nicely, April 2017.
The wire came off in August and ahe got a light trim.  Unfortunately I did not take an after picture.

Before Wire Removal

Lots of Wire Removed

Foliage/ Branches Removed

The Winter of 2017 was a particularly brutal one, at least for South Alabama, we even had snow twice!  
In May of 2018,  I tried to take some decent photos of a few of my trees.  I used a black background and I kinda like how they turned out.  Also, I removed the lowest three limbs on this bald cypress to show off more of the lower trunk.

More To Come, Check Back Often...

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