I collected this bald cypress in February of 2014. When collecting cypress, there’s one indispensable feature of any specimen being considered: a good flared base with buttressing roots. Leaving aside any other necessary features of your tree and the one other iconic feature of the species – the unique knees, which we rarely find in the collected specimen – bald cypress is known for the appearance of its base. When you grow the species from seed, you’ll find that it spends some years growing more or less like a pole. The trunk is straight-sided, plunging into the soil. It looks like any other species in that respect. Then, about 15 years later, the flaring base begins developing along with the buttressing roots.
So with this specimen, it possessed the necessary flaring and buttressing roots and therefore was a definite candidate for collecting. Once back at the nursery, all of the native soil was washed from the roots prior to potting. I used a good general purpose bonsai mix, a combination of Turface and decomposed pine bark, and made sure I buried the flaring roots sufficiently to ensure they didn’t dry out. The root zone of every tree we maintain, no matter how shallow the pot, dries out from top down. While this phenomenon is also present in nature, it’s mitigated by the ability of a tree to send feeder roots far afield in search of moisture. In the compact environment of a bonsai pot, drying out is an ever-present danger to your trees. This is also true for specimens in nursery training containers, though the danger is mitigated by the typically deeper soil mass.
This tree grew well during 2014, but I’d assess its growth as about medium in strength. Part of this was probably due to the limited room I gave it. So today I decided to repot the tree into a bigger nursery container for 2015, to allow for stronger growth. This will give a specimen ready for initial styling in 2016.
In this photo I’ve removed the tree from its original nursery container and scraped away the excess soil. You can see the “water mark” where the tree was previously buried. You can also see the newly revealed flaring, buttressing roots that I had first discovered (by reaching down under the water and muck where the tree was growing and feeling around) when considering the tree for collecting.
And finally a shot from the side. The tree needs to have buttressing roots in at least three places to appear stable. This one has four. In time, when the tree goes into a bonsai pot, the entire flaring root structure will be revealed. This will be a fine bald cypress bonsai in about five years.
This tree is available at our Bald Cypress Bonsai page. It will be available for shipping in late spring, and will be shipped in its nursery container to ensure no disturbance to the roots.