During each collecting season I choose one or two bald cypresses that I can put directly into bonsai pots and “fast-track” develop. This one had what is without a doubt the finest basal buttress for a tree its size.
This photo was taken in June, after I did the initial styling. The trunk base is 3″ thick 3″ above the soil surface. The buttress is all the way around the trunk, forming a root spread of 6″ at the soil surface. The tree is 22″ to the original chop, and should finish at about 28-30″.
After the initial styling I left the tree completely alone (benign neglect), only feeding and watering it. I would ordinarily defoliate the tree in July, but since this one had just been potted in 2015 I wanted to be sure not to stress it. So it took the brunt of our normal Deep South summer, meaning stressed foliage.
Not to mention growth of extra shoots wherever the tree decides to put them. What a mess! But there’s a bonsai-in-the-making here if you look hard enough. Today I decided to do a final cleanup and pruning for 2015.
This took less than 10 minutes but made a huge difference. I stripped off the dead foliage and removed all of the excess shoots. I selected a single new leader and wired it into position for next spring. That’s when I’ll do the angled cut at the original chop, which is the next step in the process of creating a smooth tapering transition that will ultimately take about four years.
You’ll also notice that I’ve pruned back the branches in the upper part of the tree harder than the ones lower down. Bald cypress is apically dominant, so the branches nearer the apex grow faster and stronger than those lower in the tree. This imbalance of energy has to be managed … but not in year one. During recovery following collection it’s best to allow your trees to grow out with minimal interference. If you’re working on a tree that’s been direct-potted, you take special care not to let lateral branches near the crown get too thick. Otherwise, you wait until year two to exercise more control of branch strength. Next year I’ll diligently pinch the branches near the crown and allow the lower branches to run in order to thicken. By year three I should have a good balance of energy and a better ability to manage apical strength.
Let me know what you think of this tree. I think it’s going to be a great bonsai one day.