Developing a new Redwood

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Developing a new Redwood

Post  Wander on Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:44 am

Hi guys!  

I'm new here, and new to the bonsai world in general.  I've done some research in to the subject and I decided that a redwood would be a good tree for me.  From what I understand they grow quickly enough to satisfy my impatient nature.  I have ordered this tree.
http://www.amazon.com/Nicely-started-California-redwood-tree/dp/B003ZJ75HO

In anticipation of its arrival later this week I'm trying to set myself up with everything I need.  And that's where you guys come in.  My thoughts are that it will need to be potted for a period of time after arrival in order to thicken up the stem.  I don't know how thick a 21 inch tree stem is, but my guess is somewhere just under a half an inch.  I've heard different things about this stage of potting.  Almost everyone seems to think it needs a "slate" under it to help spread the roots.  I've heard mention of cd's, but I have no idea how they fit into the process.  

Pretty much, I am looking for general advice on how to handle this first stage of it's life.  I'll post pictures later this week when it comes in!

Container size,
Soil type(where I can get it)
Techniques that set it up to be amazing later on

Those kinds of things would all be really great replies!

Thank you in advance!

-Wander

Wander
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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Chuck-815 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 4:46 am

Did the company tell you which cultivar of the redwood it is? There are 3, Coast Redwood, Giant Redwood and Dawn Redwood.  Coast and Giant are best suited to the climate of there origin on the coast and very hard to keep alive in other areas. Best suited for your area and I have 4 of them are the Dawn Redwood. mine grow quick and like weeds easy to start new trees from cuttings in early spring too.

I am a novice to cuttings and did one this spring and to my surprise it seems to have taken just fine. new growth and budding everywhere. If you want it to thicken you can plant it in the ground for a couple seasons or what I do because my other half doesn't want me to dig holes for trees I have them in large pots to grow.

As for soil what I do for mine and have had good results is potting soil with a 50 percent mix of mushroom compost. Then I mix in peagravel to this mixture at about 50 percent soil to 50 percent peagravel. Remember though this is just for initial growth to thicken and grow unchecked in a large pot.

There are probably better mixes but this has worked for me

A slate or a cd serve the same function of making the roots develop outward to get good nebari or thick roots close to the surface.  Plant it and let it grow unchecked or trimmed for awhile and be patient for the best results and read as much as you can on this forum and every book you can find to learn.

Hope this helps a little ...

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Wander on Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:37 am

I believe that it will be a coastal redwood. Is it that hopeless to try and keep a coastal in Missouri?

Wander
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Redwood starter tree

Post  MKBonsai on Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:59 am

The Amazon advert says its a Sequoia sempervirens - a Costal Redwood.

It looks like Missouri and California are both warm all year around so give it a go - we have a much colder climate in the UK and they do fine so they seem adaptable.

You can get flat root spread by making or buying a long, wide but shallow container - I make them out of 6" wide decking boards. This will keep the roots shallow but will need more attention and take more time than planting in the ground. I normally plant in the ground on top of a 12 x 12 ceramic tile - this gives nice root spread and results in much more rapid growth - but with a fast growing tree like a redwood it may get out of control so I'd probably stick to a container.

Good luck,

JT

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Chuck-815 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:56 pm

Nothing is hopeless. Learn the environment they thrive in and try to duplicte as best u can. Goog luck with it and let us know how it is doing. If you r new to bonsia and we all have heard this before ..... find trees that grow in your area and work with those they have the best chance of survival and while learning dont get diiscouraged if you kill a few trees we have all been there.
Chuck

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Vance Wood on Mon Jun 09, 2014 1:44 pm

Wander wrote:I believe that it will be a coastal redwood.  Is it that hopeless to try and keep a coastal in Missouri?

No it is not hopeless but you will have to watch it during the heat of a Missouri summer and shelter it during the bitter cold Missouri winters.

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Wander on Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:22 pm

You guys are all so friendly! Thank you for the advice. I am currently hunting for a plant I can learn and work with now. However I knew the redwood would take awhile to thicken up so I wanted to get it started. What fast growing hardy starter would you guys recommend I specifically look for?

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Vance Wood on Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:36 pm

Wander wrote:You guys are all so friendly!  Thank you for the advice.  I am currently hunting for a plant I can learn and work with now.  However I knew the redwood would take awhile to thicken up so I wanted to get it started.   What fast growing hardy starter would you guys recommend I specifically look for?

Sometimes trees with those parameters do not make for good bonsai. However possibly the closest would be a Japanese Black Pine.

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Chuck-815 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 2:49 pm

Everyone has their own preferences to trees. a good fast growing tree that is good for a starter is a trident maple they are very forgiving when pruned hard but need winter protection.
Larches, I have American larches and they need constant attention because they grow quickly.
All trees put out amazing growth in the spring and slow down towards the heat of the summer, it depends on the kind of tree you like do you prefer conifers (pine type) or  deciduous, (trees with leaves).

the next thing to think about is the style you want to achieve. Formal upright, broom , cascading, etc.

Don't limit yourself to trees, many shrubs can and do make great bonsai material.

Best way to learn is read read, read and read some more. You also you can join a club to learn and ask questions here is a link to some in your state

http://www.mababonsai.org/pages/missouri.html

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  RKatzin on Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:55 pm

The dawn Redwood develops much faster than the other two. Planted in the garden, full sun, lost of water ect, from a 1/4"  sapling to 3-4" trunks in four yrs, just did the first chop down on them. Rick

PS I also think they will do better in your clime as they are deciduous trees.

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:18 pm

if you have an adequate southern exposure window for what passes as winter in missouri,  the spekboom (portalacaria afra) is a fun and fast starter tree, but its a tropical, and some would argue as to it being a "real" bonsai tree  Rolling Eyes 

i got this guy 2.5 years ago and he was a 2" tall cutting with 2-3 little branches...
he is now about 6 inches tall and shaping up nicely...
(spring/summer/fall outside and winters in a large south facing window)



i also re-worked him some this weekend, wiring down branches etc.

the nice thing about these is you can see design results far quicker than most deciduous trees
(i also have a second cutting from the same time that i am working into a cascade)
and you can practice "clip n grow" and wiring branches also while seeing the results quicker...

and all that has helped me with my "real" deciduous, etc.

now, while bonsai is not about speed, positive results with these does build confidence and knowledge...

run the p. afra through the googles and you may seem some awesome specimens.

kevin

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  coh on Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:23 pm

The website says "S. sempervirens" which is coast redwood...and the picture looks like coast redwood.  Assuming that is correct, I doubt you'll be able to successfully grow it in the ground in Missouri. The hot summers will be tough on it (it naturally grows along the california coast...think cool breezes, fog, etc) but the winters might kill it outright, or at least severely damage the top growth.

That said, you can grow it in a pot and give it winter protection. I got a small one (think pencil thickness at base) about 6 years ago and have grown it in a series of pots until the trunk diameter reached a bit over 4". They are quite vigorous but our summers are not as long or hot as the Missouri summers.

Chris

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Chuck-815 on Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:56 pm

RKatzin wrote:The dawn Redwood develops much faster than the other two. Planted in the garden, full sun, lost of water ect, from a 1/4"  sapling to 3-4" trunks in four yrs, just did the first chop down on them. Rick

PS I also think they will do better in your clime as they are deciduous trees.

do you have any pictures of your dawn redwoods? would love to see the progression

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Wander on Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:06 pm

I think that I'll plan on keeping it potted then. It's coming regardless(pictures tomorrow) so I might as well see how it works out. I didn't think that there would be that much of a difference between the dawn and the coastal. Live and learn right? I plan to put it right into a 2ft wide "box". 1X4's for the sides and slats on the bottom with a mesh over that. I'll probably set it into potting soil for the moment, while I work out what I have available from my vast resources of Lowes, Walmart, and one small nursery. Oh to be back in civilization.

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  coh on Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:22 pm

Looks like the tree is going to come with a rather tall, skinny pot/root system. If this was my project, I wouldn't rush it into a 2 foot wide grow box. I'd pot it up into a slightly larger pot when I get it and not mess with the roots too much (it is the middle of the growing season). Then next spring I'd open up the root mass, reduce the depth and plant it in a shallower, wider container, perhaps with a small tile, board, cd, whatever under it to encourage the roots to spread out. I still wouldn't go to a 2' wide container even next spring...it's generally best to increase the pot size gradually as the roots fill the present container.

Check out this article by Brent Walston if you're unfamiliar with the approach. He has many other worthwhile articles there.

Overpotting

Chris

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Wander on Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:35 pm

You sound like you know what you're talking about Chris. I'll go with that.

Wander
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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  coh on Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:46 pm

Wander wrote:You sound like you know what you're talking about Chris.  I'll go with that.

LOL, depends on who you listen to. I like to say I know enough to get myself in trouble.

Truthfully, I've been doing bonsai for almost 4 years, but have grown plants in the ground and containers (including orchids for a while) for a few decades. The idea of gradually increasing the pot size is pretty widely recognized. You might get away with going directly to a 2' wide pot, or it might cause problems. But it's really not necessary at this point.

If you are new to all of this, do yourself a favor and spend some time reading through Brent's articles at the site in the link. Lots of good, basic info there.

Best wishes and keep us posted! If you have any specific questions once the redwood arrives, don't hesitate to post them (and I'd like to see what the tree looks like).

Chris

coh
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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  kevin stoeveken on Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:48 pm

here is some dawn redwoods i got early last year from jonsteens out west... (they had a deal for something like a dozen "seedlings" for 20-30 bucks... some of the seedlings were 4' tall)

i took some of the shorter ones and started a forest/group planting:
(if you know the dawn redwood story, you will understand why theres a dinosaur creeping around)



and i took 5 of the longer ones and bound them together hoping the trunks fuse over time:



not very good photos and the trees are nothing great yet, but you get the idea of what is possible with these

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  coh on Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:57 pm

Dawn redwoods can make beautiful groups/forests. I started one last year but during this winter mice or voles got into my storage area and did severe damage to the trunks...girdled one completely. Hopefully I can get it to heal over or perhaps do a ground layer. I have a couple of others thickening in the ground and some seeds that are germinating so I will have replacements on the way if needed. Of course, the tree that was damaged most severely was the largest in the group.

Chris

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  kevin stoeveken on Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:15 am

coh wrote:Of course, the tree that was damaged most severely was the largest in the group.Chris

damn !

i lost one outta my forest too, but it was the smallest and i was lucky because i held one back in a separate pot for just such an occasion (its the one with the deadwood top on the right)

and yeah, the cuttings seem to take well (so far)

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The trees are here!

Post  Wander on Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:58 pm

For everyone who wanted to see the trees when they arrived

Redwood Experiment

Wander
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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  coh on Fri Jun 13, 2014 5:43 pm

Keep us posted!

I'm somewhat surprised to see them sent bare-root at this time of year but as I said, redwoods are pretty vigorous so they should be OK.

Chris

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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  Wander on Fri Jun 13, 2014 6:17 pm

I am still not sure what to do with them. They obviously need to be potted for a while to develop some roots and foliage. If I then put them in the ground I'm afraid the winter here will kill them, if the summer doesn't. However they probably won't be big enough to do the first stump cut(cutting at 1/3 tree height when trunk is 2/3rds thickness). So come December I will have a tree 3-4 ft tall that can't winter outside.

Wander
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Re: Developing a new Redwood

Post  coh on Fri Jun 13, 2014 7:58 pm

You'll definitely need winter protection. I allow my coast redwoods to stay out and experience near freezing or just at freezing temperatures, then I bring them in. I have an mudroom that is essentially unheated (it's got a door to the basement and heat rises from there). Temperatures during the winter stay mostly in the 35-45 range. I've kept one redwood under these conditions for about 7 years. I allowed it to get pretty tall (about 10') and wrapped up the branches like a Christmas tree to take up less space.

If you need to, you should be able to prune the top back to, provided it produces growth from lower on the trunk.

Chris

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