One Mans Story

Bald Cypress Bonsai “Knees”

You may have read the main Bald cypress bonsai page … this page is about a Taxodium distichum that caught my eye, at the Marion County Bonsai Society in Ocala, FL.  I was there to give a ‘critique.’

Members brought their trees for sharing and suggestions.  We discussed several very nice specimens and their potential as good bonsai.

Then came the cypress bonsai with “knees” … lots of them.

What I saw on this bonsai was not exactly what you see in the nature, but they were on their way.

I had to ask how the knees got started.  In the bonsai world, I had always heard “knees don’t form once cypress are collected and placed in a container”. So, I was especially curious.

The owner, Ronald Weiss was more than willing to share his technique.

He explained that his “cypress is a work in progress,” and went on to give details.

His bald cypress bonsai is being styled after a specimen tree near the entrance of the ‘Silver Springs’ attraction in Central Florida.

“My tree was purchased in 1995, and was ten feet tall at the time. I topped it at the nursery, no taper.

Photo to the right shows a scar from the original cut. (Placed in the back, so it doesn’t show).

Then there were no branches, trunk only. I allowed several loss leaders to fatten the base. It continued to develop.

I started making the knees about seven years ago. I skipped an annual re-potting so I would have long heavy roots to work with. 

During repotting, all the roots are visible.

It’s then easy to select the best for potential knees.  I tie the roots together with wire into hair pin design. With roots that are long enough, I make two knees each.”

“Always make extra faux knees; not all the knees will thicken or survive. At first, plant the entire root below the soil surface. Don’t try to expose the new knees in the beginning. I remove extra knees that don’t fatten or are not necessary.”

Time will determine which knees on Ron’s bonsai are best and which are best placed.

When I asked Ron where he learned this technique, he told me

“I had never seen it done, this was just an experiment.”

What an experiment!

Admittedly it is a long, slow process.

Imagine the difference it could make in your  Bald Cypress bonsai.

Where to Go From Here

main Bald Cypress Bonsai Page

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