Bald cypress trees are native to the southeastern region of the U.S. They are incredibly prolific in Louisiana. In fact, in 1963, the bald cypress was made the state’s official tree. Bald cypress trees also make lovely Bonsai trees. Their delicate, beautifully colored needles and graceful stature complement Bonsai tree art.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about caring for a bald cypress Bonsai tree!
|Botanical Name||Taxodium distichum|
|Common Types||Cascade Falls, Falling Waters, Peve Minaret, Skyward|
|Sunlight||Full sunshine for at least six hours a day.|
|Soil||Any Bonsai specialty mix will work, as bald cypress trees are famously adaptable to soil conditions.|
|Water||A lot of water during the growing season, less so in the winter. Can tolerate standing water, so, generally, overwatering isn’t too much of an issue.|
|For Beginners?||Yes! Bald cypress trees are low maintenance and easy to care for. Pruning is straightforward, as is styling.|
|Indoors or Outdoors?||Outdoors throughout the year if in warm climate. Indoors during frigid temperatures.|
|Pairs Well With?||Moss, rocks, and other natural ornamentation.|
Common Types of Bald Cypress Bonsai Trees
Bald cypress trees are known for their hardiness. They are resistant to pests and diseases and can thrive in just about any soil condition. Most cultivars can also grow in a variety of climates and temperatures! Some dwarf cultivars would be perfect for Bonsai tree art.
Here are the most common types of bald cypress Bonsai trees.
Taxodium distichum’ Cascade Falls’
‘Cascade Falls’ bald cypress is one of two weeping varieties on this list. When planted naturally, the foliage on these trees usually touches the ground, even though the trunks themselves can reach heights of 20 feet. The spread is often just as wide, with branches sweeping downwards. Because of this, the clearing on these trees is one foot or less in some cases.
In many ways, this tree is unique. Its weeping shape is graceful and dramatic, and the colors on these trees are lovely, too. In the spring and summer, the fine, delicate foliage is green-colored. During the autumn months, these needles turn vivid shades of orange. The bark is red throughout the year.
The ‘Cascade Falls’ bald cypress needs as much sunshine as possible to grow its best. These trees prefer acidic soil but thrive in alkaline or neutral soil. They have even been known to tolerate standing water. When planted in alkaline soil, the needles develop a more yellowish color.
Taxodium distichum ‘Falling Waters’
The ‘Falling Waters’ bald cypress is the smaller of the two weeping cultivars. It has branches that mimic a waterfall. They reach up and then eventually swoop down toward the ground.
The foliage on these trees is darker than the ‘Cascade Falls’ cultivar. They turn vibrant shades of bronze, copper, and orange in the autumn months before the needles fall off.
Like other bald cypress trees, the ‘Falling Waters’ cultivar loves sunshine. They need full sun to thrive, which means keeping them somewhere where they can get at least six hours of sun a day. Preferred soil is moist and acidic, though they can tolerate different soil conditions. They can grow in standing water, as well.
Taxodium distichum ‘Peve Minaret’
The ‘Peve Minaret’ cultivar grows upright, maintaining a spread generally half its height. Branch systems are dense and closely packed, from the tree’s base to the top. This is a dwarf cultivar that can tolerate pruning, which makes it a perfect choice for Bonsai tree art!
In the spring and summer, the foliage on these trees is dark green. The vegetation goes from green to reddish brown when the weather cools and autumn comes around. A ‘Peve Minaret’ cultivar will often keep that color for several weeks. Then the needles will drop off.
These hardy trees can tolerate cold winters as well as hot summers. They can also thrive in partial shade as much as in full sunshine. ‘Peve Minaret’ bald cypress trees prefer moist, acidic soil. They can quickly adapt to other soil conditions, however.
Taxodium distichum ‘Skyward’
‘Skyward’ bald cypress, also called ‘Lindsey’s Skyward’, is another smaller cultivar. When planted naturally, they generally reach a height of 15-20 feet, with a spread of about 6 feet. This smaller size makes them perfect for Bonsai tree art.
These trees have been bred to be even less maintenance than the already easy-to-care-for bald cypress. They are also resistant to pests and diseases!
In the spring, new needles bloom in bright, light shades of green. By summertime, these greens have darkened. In the autumn months, the needles turn copper and stay that way for as long as several weeks. After that, they fall off.
Undoubtedly one of the most adaptable bald cypress varieties, ‘Lindsey’s Skyward’ can tolerate most soil conditions and extreme temperatures. They can survive cold winters as easily as they can survive hot summers. A preference for moist, acidic soils is present, but they’ll grow well in any soil!
Caring for Your Bald Cypress Bonsai Tree
Caring for a Bonsai tree is as vital as pruning and styling. Often, improper care of a Bonsai tree can lead to it dying before pruning and styling ever takes place. Thankfully, bald cypress trees are low maintenance and easy to care for.
From sunlight and placement to water and soil, here is everything you need to know to care appropriately for a bald cypress Bonsai tree!
Bald cypress trees love sunshine. Most cultivars need at least 4-6 hours of sunshine daily. This sunshine should be as direct as possible. That means a bald cypress Bonsai tree should be kept away from shade, especially in the afternoon.
For the most part, most bald cypress cultivars are adaptable. They might have preferences for soil types or conditions, but they will almost always acclimate to any soil conditions. Some can even tolerate standing water when they are planted naturally!
For a bald cypress Bonsai tree, any specialty Bonsai soil mixture should suit them just fine. Since they’re not too picky, they’ll adapt quickly and easily.
During the growing season, especially in the summer, bald cypress Bonsai trees need much water. Generally, they need to be watered more than once a day. Placing the bonsai pot in a water bowl during this time can be a good idea. This will ensure your bald cypress Bonsai tree gets the water it needs to grow strong.
When winter comes around and the needles have all dropped, a bald cypress Bonsai tree needs less water. However, care should be taken to ensure it never dries out.
Knowing where to place your Bonsai tree so it can get the sunshine it need — or so it can be protected from extreme elements — is very important. Mostly, bald cypress trees are not too picky with where they are placed.
When the bald cypress grows, it should be placed where it can get direct sunlight for several hours daily. Since they tend to prefer warmth over cold, bald cypress Bonsai trees can generally be kept outdoors in the spring and summer.
The bald cypress can stay outside if temperatures stay warm through the winter. However, if temperatures drop to extremely cold conditions, a bald cypress Bonsai should be brought indoors or placed in a cold-frame greenhouse. While some cultivars are more tolerant of cold conditions, bald cypress trees are weakened when planted in Bonsai tree containers. Because of this, it is better to be safe than sorry and place your tree somewhere where it can be protected during the winter.
If you plan to bring your tree indoors during the winter, place it where the sun can still reach it for several hours a day. If this is not possible, grow lights will work instead.
Pruning Your Bald Cypress Bonsai Tree
Pruning a Bonsai tree can be the most challenging aspect of growing a Bonsai tree. It can be easier with the right tools, knowledge, and patience. Thankfully, pruning isn’t too tricky. Some cultivars even take to pruning better than others.
The best time to prune new shoots is later in the growing season. They should only be pruned when lateral ramification has begun. During this time, buds that do not factor into the design or style you have in mind for your tree should be pruned.
There are two ideal times to prune the branches. One of these times is in the early spring when growth is new; the other is in the autumn when the needles begin to drop.
Wiring is possible. It is easier to shape and wire younger branches than old ones. Older branches are generally far more brittle and can break if wired. Wires can also lower the branches for more dramatic, challenging styles.
Ideal Bald Cypress Bonsai Tree Styles
There are many different Bonsai tree styles ideal for these trees. Most of these styles involve growing your bald cypress Bonsai tree solid and upright, but other styles, which are challenging, can also be achieved!
Perhaps the most popular Bonsai tree style for a bald cypress is the style of Chokkan. The Chokkan style is probably the most popular Bonsai tree style. It involves growing your Bonsai tree with one singular trunk. This trunk is often as thick as possible and grows straight and upright. Because of this, the Chokkan style is also called the formal upright style. Bald cypress Bonsai trees are well suited to this style because of their strong trunks.
Similar to the Chokkan style but a bit more challenging is the style of Sokan. It is the same as the Chokkan style, except it involves splitting the Bonsai tree into two distinct trunks. This is often done in a way that allows the two trunks to grow from a singular source.
A third upright style that can be achieved is the Kabudachi style. It is similar to the Sokan style, which involves growing multiple trunks from one singular source. The dense canopy of bald cypress trees makes this style look natural and beautiful.
An extremely popular choice is the Yose-ue style. Known as the forest style, Yose-ue involves growing multiple trunks but staggering them to resemble a forest. This is a great style because their trunks tend to be slender instead of thick.
Propagating Your Tree
It is relatively easy to propagate a bald cypress Bonsai tree. They can be propagated from both cuttings and seeds.
Bald cypress trees are some of the hardiest out there. Certain cultivars, like ‘Lindsey’s Skyward’, are known for being resistant to diseases and pests. Thankfully, this is true of all bald cypress trees and cultivars. Even though they weaken after being planted in Bonsai containers, this does not affect their resistance to pests and diseases.
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