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How to Prune Bald Cypress

Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a large deciduous tree. It grows in hardiness zones 5b to 9. Bald cypress prefers wet swampy soils of riverbanks and lake flood plains. Many large deciduous trees require pruning to create a strong trunk. Bald cypress does not. Maintenance pruning is merely to remove dead or diseased branches. Pruning should be done in the late winter or early spring. The exception is at the first sign of disease, when the infected branches should be removed as soon as possible to prevent spreading. Bald cypress trees are only pruned as young trees. Older trees need trimming and pruning done by a tree expert.

Remove the secondary leader (trunk) with a pruning saw. Cut the leader close to the main trunk, being sure to cut even with the collar (swollen ridge). Do not use tree-wound dressing on bald cypress trees.

Cut small branches from the lower trunk with hand pruning shears. Cuts should be even and close to the collar of the main trunk. This encourages bald cypress trees to grow straight trunks.

Locate damaged and diseased branches. Remove damaged branches completely by cutting parallel to the collar. Remove only the diseased portions of branches. New growth will appear the following growing season. Remove lower branches with hand shears and higher branches with pruning saw.

Prune Bald Cypress Trees

Native to the American Southeast and tolerant of moist as well as dry upland soils, the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a deciduous conifer. In general, little pruning is needed for this tree to grow with strong, well-branching structures. Lower branches might need removal to allow for clearance if near a walkway or road. This tree grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 5 through 9. Trim off soft new-growth foliage lengths with pruners or shears if you wish to limit the amount or length of branch tips in mid- to late spring. Remove one of the two co-dominant leaders within the top of the bald cypress tree if one exists or develops later in the tree's life. The leader is the single twig or tip of the tree from which new branches occur.

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