Styling A Big Bald Cypress

styling a big bald cypress

Sneak Peak

The big collected Bald cypresses start out pretty much the same way. They recover pretty much the same way. Then comes that day when you dive in ….

Styling A Big Bald Cypress

I acquired this big Bald cypress last month from another collector. It’s got a super nebari, plenty of radial roots with a good flare down into the soil. Plus there’s trunk movement and taper. The thing to do now that it’s pushing roots out of the pot’s drain holes is to build an initial design.

This process, incidentally, is one you’ll do over and over again. Deciduous trees are mostly collected the same way, and start out as bare trunks. This works exceptionally well with Bald cypress since it buds so freely on old wood.

Now, looking at this specimen you might be wondering how it’s going to look like anything. To be sure, there’s a paucity of branches. But that’s only the second worst blank canvas to start with when designing a bonsai. It’s far worse when you have too many branches. So this is a good one to work with, since I only have limited design choices (not to worry, it’s plenty).


So a little editing and I start at the bottom, two branches at a time. When you’re working young BC branches, try to crack them gently as you position them after wiring. Breaking the longitudinal fibers helps the branch set its position more quickly and easily. I know some artists who say you can do this completely without wire. While this is true, there’s also a risk and that’s when a bird or falling branch lands on your well-placed branch. The wire helps keep it where you put it, so I always recommend wiring.

Here we go up the tree. Couple more branches get their turn. Notice that things are starting to look up, because I’m putting (present and future) foliage masses in their necessary spots.

Were you wondering about that empty space on the left side of the trunk just below the chop area? I had a branch in back of the tree that allowed me to fill that gap. The design is unfolding very nicely.

You probably noticed that pretty thick branch under the leader. I could have wired and man-handled it downward, but the fact is most of the energy of this tree is near the top so by simply cutting off the branch I’m sure to get a couple of buds in that same spot. I’ll simply choose one when it reaches a nice shoot stage and wire it. It’s nice to have a forward facing branch once you get in the upper third of the tree (you have to be careful with these, don’t overdo them and don’t place them too low).

Finally the coup de grace. This tree is strong enough to get its angle chop this year rather than next. That will give me a head start on the tapering transition. The leader needs to continue growing, and I’ll let it do just that, but I can also start getting callusing of the angle chop this year.

So this tree is on its way. If you’d like to take over the development, it’s available in our Shop. I’d estimate you could realistically go to a bonsai pot with it in just a couple of years.