bald cypress with knee gets intial styling

Sneak Peek

It’s always great to find Bald cypresses in the swamp that have knees, especially when the scale is right. Here’s one that’s ready for its first styling.

Bald Cypress with Knee Gets Initial Styling

I was really excited to find out that this Bald cypress came with an attached knee (often we find knees near the BC’s we harvest, which alas are unattached). It’s grown with good vigor since we brought it home in February, enough so that it’s clearly ready to be styled.

Here’s a closeup that makes it easier to see the knee, which is behind the trunk in a good spot from the front view.

Is it alive? That’s a good question. When a knee is attached to the trunk of a BC at the time of harvest, you absolutely have to have it produce roots at the cut end or it’ll die. In this case of this one, there are two feeder roots that are going down into the pot and seem to be in great shape. I’ll be sure next year.

After the initial editing of superfluous branches, I start the wiring process. Bottom to top.


Sometimes you’ll get stumped as to which branches to keep and which to remove. While the spacing doesn’t have to be perfect, you want your branch selection to be reasonably full with good spacing all around the trunk.


In the classic “pyramidal” style, you want to be sure your lowest branches are not only heaviest but also extend outward more than the ones above them. More or less like a Christmas tree. This complies with a key rule of horticulture, namely, if it doesn’t get sunlight it dies.

I always cut back the upper branches the most, because I know they’ll be the most dominant. This gives the lower branches an opportunity to gain strength.


The leader doesn’t need a lot of movement, but it does need movement. Without this slight curve I’ve wired into it, the tree will look static in the apex and your eye will be drawn to that spot. As you view a bonsai, your eye should “roam” around the tree constantly. If it stops somewhere, that’s almost always a flaw.

Notice I also went ahead and angle-chopped the initial trunk chop. Normally I’d wait until year two, but I’m confident the tree will do fine. (I did seal the new chop area.)

This is all I need to do for now to this tree. We’ll get more growth from now into fall, and by this time next year the tree could very well be ready for a bonsai pot.

I’d love to hear what you think of this one.