The majestic bald cypress is native to the wetland areas of the American Southeast, commonly found in the bayous of Louisiana where it is also designated as the official state tree. Reaching heights of 150 feet in the wild, it is often seen in much smaller form as an ornamental landscape plant. Bald cypress seeds are dormant when taken from the cone and must be stratified to ensure germination. Stratification is the natural process whereby the seeds dormancy is broken by exposure to cool, damp conditions over the winter.
Collect the unopened cone-shaped fruit from standing trees in the fall and lay them in a warm location to thoroughly dry out. Put on gloves to prevent the sticky resin from the cone getting on your skin and avoid contact with other clothing. The resin is difficult to remove. Break the cones apart to release the seeds. Wash the seeds in lukewarm water to remove excess pulp.
Place a layer of peat moss in the plastic bag and place the seeds on top. Cover with more peat moss and add just enough water to keep everything moist. Seal the bag and put it in the refrigerator for 60 days to stratify the seeds.
Fill the planting containers with potting soil. Use 4 inch pots that have drainage holes in the bottom and trays. Remove the seeds from the bag and plant them in separate pots at a depth of half an inch. Add water to moisten the soil and place the containers in bright, warm location. A spot that gets some direct sunlight and is well ventilated is ideal. Check the pots often for moisture and add water if needed.
Transplant the seedlings outdoors after they have developed three or four sets of leaves. The seedlings should only be planted when there is no risk of frost. Keep the seedlings well watered at all times until well established. Bald cypress trees will grow in many types of soil and will usually adapt to local conditions provided enough moisture is present.
Things You Will Need
- Bald cypress cones
- Peat moss
- Sealable plastic bag
- Small planting containers
- Potting soil