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The flexiblel bald Cypress

Making It Grow Minute Extra logo

When Hurricane Hugo came through South Carolina, Sumter County was really hit hard. The magnificent Swan Lake Gardens lost several hundred pine trees exposing camellias and azaleas to unwelcome sunlight. But only a few bald cypresses were lost. If you come across a young bald cypress, shake it and you’ll find that is flexible, even adult trees are not brittle like pines. The ones in water with their interlacing knees have a giant support system in play protecting them against strong winds, even hurricanes. In ice storms, they again have an advantage over pines as they are deciduous and have no needles for the ice to accumulate on and cause the trunks to break. You can grow bald cypress in a regular landscape – they don’t make knees in ordinary soils – just buy a bale of long-leaf pinestraw for mulch.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.