Looking for something specific on this site? Search here:

Bald Cypress Bonsai “Knees”

One Man's Story

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.

Where to Go From Here

main Bald Cypress Bonsai Page

  more Bonsai Tree Articles

Bonsai Banter

is my free monthly newsletter. Subscribe to get current tips, ideas and photos that may not appear on this site.

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Bonsai Banter.

Read Bonsai Banter Newsletter Back Issues

There are many pesticides to use – organic and chemical. One good choice is the Safer Brand Insect Killing Soap, Ready to Use Spray