Bald-cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) are native to the swamplands of the Southeastern United States but adapt to a wide range of soils, including dry soils or heavy wet clay. They prefer to grow in soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.5 and often grow to 150 feet tall in their native habitat in places with an even moisture supply. Bald-cypress are appropriate for large landscapes in USDA horticultural zones 5 to 10. The trees are famous for the woody protrusions, known as cypress knees, that appear from the roots in swampy areas. Although cypress knees often appear around mature trees, the knees do not grow tall enough to be problematic in most landscape settings.
Find a location in the landscape to plant your bald-cypress tree that receives at least six hours of full sun each day. The tree should be near a source of water, such as a water hose, because a cypress tree needs supplemental water the first year it is planted.
Dig a hole in the ground that is twice as wide as the root system on the tree and deep enough so the tree is planted at the same depth as it is in the nursery pot. If planting a bare root tree that does not have a container, look for a soil line at the base of the trunk. This is an indication of how deep the tree was planted in its previous location.
Remove the tree from the container and place into the hole. Spread out any roots that seem to be encircling the root system so that they cannot continue to grow in a circle around the root base. If allowed to encircle the root base, they will eventually girdle the tree and kill it.
Add the same dirt you removed from the planting hole around the roots of the bald-cypress tree. At the same time, add a stream of water from the water hose, mixing the dirt and water as you go. This creates a slurry that prevents air pockets from forming around the roots. Continue adding dirt and water until the planting hole is full.
Cover the root base of the tree with a 1- to 2-inch layer of mulch. Leave a 1-inch space between the tree trunk and the mulch layer so mildew or disease cannot spread from the decaying mulch to the bald-cypress. Water the tree once a week during dry periods by running a stream of water the size of a pencil over the root base of the tree for one hour.