Bald Cypress Growing – Planting A Bald Cypress Tree

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By: Teo Spengler

It’s hard to mistake the bald cypress for any other tree. If you are considering planting a bald cypress tree, you’ll want to read up on bald cypress information. Here are some tips on growing a bald cypress.

Bald Cypress Information

A bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) isn’t actually bald. Like every living tree, it grows foliage that helps it with photosynthesis. It’s a conifer, so its foliage consists of needles, not leaves. However, unlike many conifers, bald cypress is deciduous. That means that it loses its needles before winter. Bald cypress information suggests that the needles are flat and yellow-green in summer, turning rusty orange and falling in autumn.

The state tree of Louisiana, bald cypress is native to southern swamps and bayous from Maryland to Texas. If you’ve seen photos of this tree, they were likely taken in the Deep South when the tree grows in large stands in swamps, its branches draped with Spanish moss. The trunks of bald cypress flare at the base, developing knobby root growths. In swamps, these look like the tree’s knees just above the surface of the water.

Bald Cypress Growing

You don’t have to live in the Everglades to start bald cypress growing, however. Given appropriate bald cypress care, these trees can thrive in drier, upland soils. Before planting a bald cypress tree, note that the trees only thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. It’s also important to make sure you have the space for bald cypress growing.

These trees grow slowly, but they mature into giants. When you start planting a bald cypress tree in your backyard, try to imagine the tree several decades in the future at 120 feet (36.5 m.) tall with a trunk diameter of 6 (1.8 m.) feet or more. The other piece of bald cypress information to keep in mind involves their longevity. With appropriate bald cypress care, your tree may live 600 years.

Bald Cypress Care

It’s not difficult to provide your tree the best bald cypress care if you select an excellent planting location, starting with a spot in full sun.

When you are planting a bald cypress tree, ensure that the soil has good drainage but also retains some moisture. Ideally, the soil should be acidic, moist and sandy. Irrigate regularly. Do yourself a favor and don’t plant these trees in alkaline soil. Although bald cypress information may tell you that the tree has no serious insect or disease issues, it is likely to get chlorosis in alkaline soils.

You’ll make Mother Nature happy if you start bald cypress growing. These trees are important to wildlife and help hold soil in place. They prevent erosion of river banks by soaking up excess water. Their thirsty roots also prevent pollutants in the water from spreading. The trees are breeding grounds for a variety of reptiles and nesting grounds for wood ducks and raptors.

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How to Plant and Care for a Cypress Tree

Use a cypress tree to decorate a low-lying area. This type of tree is well known for growing in areas that are too wet for other trees, earning them the label as the unofficial tree of swamps and bogs. Follow the steps outlined below to plant your own cypress tree and help it grow healthy and strong.

Facts About Bald Cypress

Cypress trees are among the oldest types of true trees and they are related to the sequoia, the longest-living tree discovered to date. They have been documented to live for more than five centuries. Today, very few old-growth cypress forests remain, having been stripped almost completely during the first quarter of the 20th century. The bald cypress is unique as the only species of tree that grows "knees," or round-tipped root peaks that protrude from the soil around the tree.

Step 1 - Start with Seedlings

Because of the long germination time involved, it is a better idea to purchase young saplings. If you want to germinate your own, start them in a terrarium with large amounts of water. Before you start the seeds, keep in mind it could take as much as a full year before a germinated cypress tree is ready for planting.

Step 2 - Prepare the Soil

Cypress tree care is pretty simple. They like rich dark soil and plenty of water. In the wild, cypress trees are commonly found growing in peat, so mixing a soil that is based on compost or other humus will make for a very happy cypress tree.

Step 3 - Identify When to Plant

Plant your trees in the early spring, after the last hard frost. This gives them one entire growing season to acclimate to the location and soil before having to shut down for the winter months. Cypress can be planted any time during the spring, summer and fall months, but planting too late in the year handicaps the plant adaptation and could result in stunted growth come the following spring.

Step 4 - Prepare to Plant

Prepare a hole that is two cubic feet in size, and fill it with the prepared soil. Dig out a smaller hole for the sapling to be placed in, slightly deeper than the surrounding soil. Place the tree in the hole, and fill in around it with prepared soil. Water excessively. If you have a way to provide a continuous drip, set it to run for the first 48 hours, effectively drenching the area around the cypress tree.

Other Planting Considerations

If you plant a cypress tree at the bottom of a depression, it will grow few, if any, knees. If you plant a cypress at the top of a depression, the tree will grow knees along the banks of the depression. If you plant the cypress on the edge of a sharp drop-off into a body of water, the tree will try to grow a wall of knees between itself and the water. Cypress trees do not live in water, but they must live in wet soil.

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a gorgeous plant with reddish-brown bark that is fibrous at first and later becomes furrowed and pale. It has needle-like foliage that is a soft, pale-green color. A hardy plant, it looks a lot like the Dawn Redwood but is a superior bonsai species.

There is only one type of Bald Cypress bonsai, as it’s a bonsai cultivar of the standard-sized Bald Cypress tree. This long-lived deciduous tree is known by many names, including swamp cypress, bald cypress, tidewater red cypress, gulf cypress, red cypress, and white cypress.

The plant is often confused with the Mediterranean Cypress. The main difference between the two? Bald Cypress is native to North and Central America, while the former is found in the Mediterranean Region.

Care For Potted Cypress Trees

Whether you received a potted cypress tabletop Christmas tree or are adding a Hinoki cypress to your container garden, routine care will help the plant thrive. Remove wrapping, lights, price tags, stickers and any other non-organic materials from the cypress tree and its container, and place the plant in a cool, light location, such as an enclosed patio or porch. Add water until it begins to drip from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Transplant the cypress tree into a larger pot in early spring with a decorative container that is at least 2 inches larger than the current pot. Fill the bottom 2 inches with pebbles to facilitate drainage. Potting soil blended with slow-release, 10-8-6 fertilizer, mixed according to the measurements on the manufacturer's label, is a good choice.

How to Grow a Bald Cypress Tree

This article tells us the correct procedure on how to grow a bald cypress tree and the various requirements of climate, soil, fertilization, etc. Growing this tree is easy, as it requires minimal maintenance.

This article tells us the correct procedure on how to grow a bald cypress tree and the various requirements of climate, soil, fertilization, etc. Growing this tree is easy, as it requires minimal maintenance.

The bald cypress tree, scientific name Taxodium distichum, is a deciduous conifer that belongs to family Cupressaceae of the order Pinales. It is native to the southeastern regions of United States. As this tree is adapted to a wet and swampy environment, it is also referred to as swamp cypress. Similar to other deciduous varieties, it sheds foliage in the fall season, leaving a bald structure. If maintained properly, their lifespan is expected to be more than 1300 years.


Speaking about the plant description, it is a tall tree that grows to about 75 – 100 feet and attains a girth diameter of about 2 – 3 meters. The growth rate is about 12 – 18 inches per year. The bark is brownish red in color and stringy in texture. The needle-shaped foliage is borne around the stem. Each needle is about 1 – 2 cm long and 1 – 2 mm wide. The growth habit and appearance of this tree resembles that of an evergreen.

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Male and female strobili are developed in the same tree (monoecious), which mature after a year. Most of the species produce strobili every year. Fertilization of the male and female gametes occurs in winter, resulting in seed cone formation. The matured seed cone is globular in shape and green in color, which turns grayish brown after maturation. About 20 – 40 triangular seeds are present per seed cone.

Tips for Growing

The bald cypress is a popular landscaping tree, especially due to its attractive pyramidal shape and adaptability to poor nutrient soils and cold climatic conditions. It is also planted as a street tree, as the maintenance is low in comparison to other ornamental deciduous options. This grows best in wet soil and sunny areas. The plant is intolerant to shade conditions. It can be trained properly for creating a bonsai tree. For growing purposes, you can either use seeds or young plantlets.

Germination: The germination takes place when the seeds are exposed to damp and moist conditions for a prolonged time (1- 3 months). Since germination requires a long period, you can opt for the plantation of young seedlings that are available in horticultural shops. You can remove at least half of the burlap that adheres to the root ball before introducing it to the soil.

Soil Preparation and Plantation: Sandy loams are best suited for growing these trees. You can prepare soil in early spring for these trees. Prior to growing the plantlet, prepare the soil by adding farmyard compost and/or organic fertilizer. Following this, dig the soil to such a depth that the root ball can be fitted to the planting hole. For plantation, introduce the root ball in the planting hole, water properly and cover with soil.

Watering: As bald cypress trees are naturally adapted to swampy areas, deep watering should be done regularly, at least every alternate day. In warm climatic regions, the plantlets should be watered twice everyday, once in the morning and once in evening. Many of the hobbyists prefer to keep the plants in submerged conditions during the summer months.

Mulching and Fertilization: Mulching the plantation site is recommended to conserve maximum moisture and control weed growth. You can cover the area with 3 – 4 inch thick mulch. It grows well even without the application of external fertilizers. Nevertheless, if the soil lacks nutrients, you can add organic fertilizers during spring and summer. Fertilization of this tree in winter is not advisable.

Problems: The most common disease that affects this tree is twig blight, that is caused due to infestations by Pestalotia funerea. This fungal pathogen attacks dead and dying trees, especially when the plant is in the dormant state. In order to prevent twig blight, the dead and dry branches should be pruned regularly.

Cypress knees are a characteristic feature of this species, which is an adaptation for growing in water. These are knee like structures that arises above the ground level. As the tree grows in swampy areas, the woods are resistant to water rots. This wood, also referred to as wood eternal, is favorable for making a wide range of outdoor and gardening furniture.

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Pond Cypress

Pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) grow in the Southeast from Louisiana to Virginia, and are usually found along the edge of swampy ground where water is standing. However, they grow well in drier landscapes, and tolerate drought better than expected.

In the home landscape, pond cypress are often preferred over bald cypress because they're comparitively smaller and more compact, though pond cypress can still reach 80 feet tall. They're also less likely to put up "knees," and any knees that do pop up will be shorter and rounder.

Pond cypress are relatively maintenance free and require only occasional pruning to remove dead limbs.

They add interest in the fall, when the leaves turn from green to light yellow or copper colored before falling. For tight spaces, there's a cultivar called 'Prairie Sentinel' that's been bred to grow in a very upright, narrow form.

Learn More About The CYPRESS TREE

Cypress trees have a straight trunk that tapers at the base, giving it a soaring perspective. In cultivated landscapes, they grow 50 to 80 feet tall with a spread of 20 to 30 feet. These deciduous conifers have short needles with a feathery appearance. Most varieties have needles that turn brown in winter, but a few have lovely yellow or gold fall color.

Bald cypress has a tendency to form “knees,” which are pieces of root that grow above the ground in odd and sometimes mysterious shapes. Knees are more common for trees grown in water, and the deeper the water, the taller the knees. Some knees reach a height of 6 feet. Although no one is sure about the function of knees, they may help the tree get oxygen when they are underwater. These projections are sometimes unwelcome in the home landscape because they make mowing difficult and they can trip passers-by.

Growing cypress trees successfully depends on planting the in the right location. Choose a site with full sun or partial shade and rich, acid soil. Cypress trees are hardy is USDA zones 5 through 10.

Drench the soil around the tree after planting and cover the root zone with 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch. Give the tree a good soaking every week for the first few months. Cypress trees need water most in spring when they enter a growth spurt and in fall just before they go dormant. They can withstand occasional drought once established, but it’s best to water them if you haven’t had a drenching rain for more than a month.

Wait a year after planting before fertilizing a cypress tree for the first time. Cypress trees growing in a regularly fertilized lawn don’t generally need additional fertilizer once established. Otherwise, fertilize the tree every year or two with a balanced fertilizer or a thin layer of compost in fall. Spread a pound of balanced fertilizer for each inch of trunk diameter over an area approximately equal to the spread of the canopy.

Watch the video: How to Plant Bald Cypress Tree Seedlings


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