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Often, when you see bald cypress trees growing, they're near a swamp, creek, or other wetland surfaces. But can they grow in dry areas? And can bald cypress trees grow in wet soil and water? We have researched these trees to provide you with an answer.
Yes, bald cypress trees grow best in wet or well-drained moist soil. However, if you're growing a bald cypress from seed, you will need to plant it in moist soil, as it won't grow in water. They can, however, tolerate dry soil fairly well.
Bald cypress trees are native to the southwestern part of the United States. They make for excellent privacy trees due to their tall stature. They're also commonly seen in front of homes and local recreational areas such as parks and stadiums. Continue reading to learn more about how they grow and their soil requirements.
More About Bald Cypress Trees
The bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), is also known as a "swamp cypress" due to its prevalence in swampy areas in North America. The wood on these trees is known for its superb water resistance, and it contains small round holes caused by a common fungus growing on the trees.
The leaves of the bald cypress turn a beautiful rust color in the fall, making them perfect ornamental trees for front lawns and backyards. The bald cypress can grow up to about 100 feet tall and about three and a half feet in diameter.
These wet soil-growing trees unsurprisingly have a very strong base. Their roots are horizontal and often live above the waterline when they grow in swamps and lakes.
It is believed that the "knees" of the bald cypress are responsible for oxygenating the roots of the tree and providing support in the often muddy soil in which the trees are grounded.
Over the centuries, these trees have adapted well to growing in humid conditions and moist soil and are known to live over 500 years—though they are a relatively slow-growing tree.
The interior of the tree's bark is usually hollow and is often filled with moisture-loving insects such as cypress leaf beetles and spider mites. They can also grow pretty well in saltwater and acidic soil.
Can bald cypress live in water?
Yes, the bald cypress tree is native to streams, moist forests, and lowlands that are seasonally flooded in the southeast parts of the United States.
Though these trees live in water, is it best to plant them in moist or wet soil that is above water when you're growing them from seed. The seeds won't germinate in water and will die in a few weeks.
Do cypress trees hold water?
The spring growth spurt is when cypress trees require water the most—it's before they enter their dormant stage in the fall and winter. Once established, they can withstand drought, though it's best to water them when it hasn't rained for over a month.
The roots of the tree hold the majority of its water preserve, distributing it to the branches, limbs, and leaves as needed. The roots of cypress trees are pretty expansive, and they absorb water through osmosis.
The roots then transport the water in addition to nutrients and minerals throughout the tree. So the trees themselves don't necessarily hold water, though it is readily available in the roots.
What type of soil do bald cypress trees like?
Bald cypress trees prefer moist or wet soil that is slightly acidic. It's best if the soil has good drainage and if it's sandy, it's even better. You can also add a loom to the soil to help with moisture retention. It's best not to place these trees in alkaline soil, as they can easily get chlorosis.
Be sure to water the trees regularly, as they have thirsty roots that will quickly soak up moisture, especially as they grow into adult trees. It's also useful to add about 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch to your soil to aid with moisture retention—this may be necessary if you live in a warm or dry area.
Be sure to water a newly planted bald cypress every week for the first few months. This way, the tree's roots can become established, thick, and support the tree's weight as it ages.
Once the tree is established, it can withstand drought better, but it's best to err on the side of caution for the first few years. It's also helpful to fertilize the tree's soil every year with a balanced all-purpose fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro.
Where is the best place to plant a bald cypress?
The best place to plant a bald cypress is anywhere that has enough room for the tree to get sunlight, water, and ample root space. The canopy of these trees can range anywhere from 40 to 50 feet in width, and the trees can reach up to 100 feet or more in height.
Needless to say, you'll want to make sure that you have enough space. Never plant these trees in a tight area, especially if you plan on planting multiple trees. Bald cypress trees require ample space, and they'll also require more water the bigger that they grow.
So it's best to take measurements around your home if you're planning to plant them in your front or back yard or near your home or driveway. It's also best not to place these trees in an area that is south facing or too sunny, especially if you live in a region that's relatively dry.
If so, you make may find that your bald cypress tree experiences a bit of summer drought in the warmer months. Note that you really can't water these trees too much. In fact, over watering them is highly unlikely.
It's best to find a shady space around your home to plant a tree so that it won't intrude on sidewalks and nearby streets—these areas aren't ideal locations for long-term survival.
If you plan on planting a row of bald cypress trees in front of your home, be sure that you are ready to prune the tree as needed, as their canopies can quickly become entangled in one another.
The process for pruning these trees is fairly straightforward. Simply start at the bottom of the tree and remove any dead, entangled branches or branches that are too long.
Then work your way up the tree making the branches shorter so that the tree maintains its aesthetic appeal. Never prune more than a third of the tree at a time, as it can cause it to go into shock. Remember, pruning stresses out trees, so it's best to perform no more than one session every 4 to 6 months.
Also, always be sure to sterilize your pruning shears before cutting your tree, as this will help you avoid spreading fungus from other plants and trees. And if you find that the tree is growing fungus on the bark or leaves, be sure to apply an anti-fungal agent such as neem oil or Daconil.
Wrapping things up
We hope this post has given you an idea of the ideal growing environment for bald cypress trees. Remember, these trees absolutely love wet soil. So if you live in a region that's dry, you'll want to pay special attention to the moisture level of the tree's soil, especially during the first few years when it's still establishing itself.
So yes, they can grow and thrive in water. However, when you first plant them, it's best to plant them in soil that is above a water line.
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