Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

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Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Mo Acha on Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:18 am

Hello, I am attempting to start a 5 tree grouping of Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum). I am in a unique coastal zone 3/4 mile from the pacific ocean in north Los Angeles, Ca. It has a low smog index with temps of 38F to 96F but with yearly spikes of 103F+ to contend with. Has anyone had Bonsai experience with these trees? I know the Coastal Redwoods do very well here and I have seen many Bonsai forest pictures using this species, but NO pictures (ANYWHERE) of group plantings of the Giants in action (a FEW individual trees-yes). I know they have unique watering needs but any help beyond that would be greatly appreciated. I like the small foliage. What am I missing with these dinosaurs?

As Purchased (Evil-Bay) 32" tall, 5/8" thickness trunk: 4-19-09




1st new home after a good haircut 4-26-09

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Bruce Winter on Thu Apr 30, 2009 6:27 am

Ask Bob or Zach at Mendocino Coast Bonsai.

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I got the word on the Big ones and I'm going for it! The strong will survive!

Post  Mo Acha on Fri May 01, 2009 1:06 am

Thanks Bruce,

I think I have a real game plan after talking with Bob at your suggestion. Looks like only a handful of successful group plantings of Giant Sequoias in the world. He was able to give me some key hints about these finicky trees. I will take my new info and see what happens. I may lose some but I will rotate out dead ones til' I get a group of settled survivors. Bottom line, the trees don't want the roots touched or the foliage pinched back or it commits Hari Kari. Solution (mine): plant in deeper pot, thin foliage but don't pinch back, and do what I did when I smelled problems with these trees, BUY TO FINISHED SIZE and Don't TOP! Just thin as needed. This may be a waste of time but I'm game for the oddball stuff!! John Naka told me in 1981 that I was wasting my time with a forest of Hollywood Twisted Junipers and he was right if I was going to mimic "Goshin" but I went with the more natural growth pattern of the tree without trying to fight it. I am happy with the progress and honored it with the name Mo Acha or "Little Uncle" The God of Fine Weather:


[img]

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Joe Hatfield on Fri May 01, 2009 3:40 am

That Mo Acha is pretty nice. I like it very much. Good luck with the redwood project. I would like to try one myself.

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Kev Bailey on Fri May 01, 2009 10:16 am

Hope you don't mind me revising your link so the pic shows here, rather than a redirect?

Your forest Mo Acha is coming along really nicely and deserves a proper pot.

I struggle with Sequioadendron giganteum. It can take being pinched around the apex but tends to abort branches lower down if they are messed with. I have found that if well watered and fed it does spring new growth from adventitious buds on very old wood. I've got some new seedlings to experiment further with. A grove of these would certainly look great, if well done.

Can you share any more of the received wisdom?

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“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - Charles Darwin.

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  AlainK on Fri May 01, 2009 4:03 pm

From my experience, Kev and Mo Acha are giving you good advice.

This is one that I put back in a big pot after attempting to style it as a bonsai for a couple of years : at the beginning, it looked quite good, but the lower branches tended to die back in the summer however hard I tried to pinch the shoots at the top : it would just backbud close to the branches that I had pinched, then older branches tended to die w<hile new ones developped, but only in the top part.

That's what it looked like in April 2005 :



I decided to try it again because it's the kind of tree that is too big to be planted in my garden. So I cut about half of it, leaving only a few buds, and hoping it would backbud lower on the trunk but it actually backbudded where there were live branches before cutting them. One month later, in May :



I left it unattended for two years, and it developped well. April 2007 :



In March 2008, I trimmed it again, making a jin-ten (dead wood at the top) :



And that's how it looked like in november 2008 :



It is just starting again, but already some of the thinnest secondary branches at the bottom have died. I may repot it in a shallower, larger pot in a few weeks, I found that repotting when the vegetation has stated works.

But in a way, it's a lot of hassle, better try to form a king-size juniper from seed scratch

Maybe i'll sell it along with my Colorado blue Spruce for the price of one Shocked

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Mo Acha on Sat May 02, 2009 2:02 am

Thanks for the info Kev and Alain,

I have been hearing back from a few folks that have worked with them or have them now. This is what I have picked up so far from all my inquiries and my own added research spice.... As long as I know I am not sending these trees to certain death, I can work with the known foliage limitations by grouping the trees as is, but eliminate the cross branches etc. The way I read it...use what you have, the way it is, or less (thinning to fit in other trees for the grouping). Close to instant bonsai then just park it!. One thing different that I will be working with is the soil. Trees are cannibals. They eat their own decaying droppings (sounds gross) and the other plants and trees nearby plus what squirrels bury and birds drop. For Sequoias, their natural base soil is decomposing granite. They like damp but not wet or soggy soil with good drainage and can never dry out.

I'm going to try a soil mixture of 1/3 sifted potting soil, 1/3 of sand size (and a little bigger) grained decomposing granite, and finally lunch...1/3 untreated redwood sawdust! This witches brew has the right trace foods for the trees and the anti-fungal properties of the redwood tannin to help with the needed extra soil moisture. I will then feed my tried and true way of adding a thin layer of the potting soil and the redwood sawdust (in this case). This leaches nutrients slowly into the soil and keeps the feeder roots UP TOP. It keeps the moisture in the soil but also acts as a wick and holds more water than the soil underneath. It keeps the roots from shocks of extremes in temperature by acting as a little bit of insulation. This soil washes away slowly as I water (intentional) and I add more as needed for a low shock feeding regiment. It has worked well for me for 28 + years. I have some bone meal in a box I bought 15 years ago...never needed it. We'll see what happens with all my gathered theories....

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Mo Acha on Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:52 am

Here are the mixed results...I now think of the GIANTS as wild animals. They will do OK for a while in captivity if strict rules on replicating the wild for them are followed. I live in a unique area 3/4 of a mile from the Pacific Ocean. Just 5 miles inland can be 30 degrees hotter and have 50% less humidity on the same day and time. The GIANTS take special soil and CAN NOT be pruned and wired as traditional bonsai trees are as the branches shed. It ends up like you see in the first set of pictures. THE SECRET, though not satisfying as a manicured bonsai, is to top it to size then trim WHOLE branches ONLY. If you pinch it back the traditional way, BYE, BYE... and out of control bounce

The next picture is of one of the only THRIVING, HEALTHY Giant Seqouia bonsai forests currently in existence. Why? They well only do well under near perfect conditions. Don't waste your $$$ on these exotic relics. If you don't have the right conditions to start, they are like keeping junipers indoors only with a defiant bratty attitude. Go with Coastals instead. The Giants don't like humans....No They're fond of Hari Kari...Sad

Mo Acha






With my own special soil blend and perfect conditions...picture was taken 7-5-09 and overdue for another branch thinning...I hold my breath each time I touch this thing...


Last edited by Mo Acha on Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:18 pm; edited 11 times in total

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Harleyrider on Sat Jul 04, 2009 11:30 pm

I've got 4 Coastal in a small pot (a gift from my wife). The pot is waaay too small for them, I think, but I'm waiting until winter before I translplant them into the ground for a few years as they seem happy enough. I've had them about 4 months now, and they have grown between 4 - 5 inches since then! No feeding, just regular watering (living in northern England, that's easy to maintain!).

I've always wanted to own one of these majestic trees, and was distraught when I read your posts. However, now you've differentiated between giants and coastals, I'm much happier!

Now a question for other Sequioa owners. Is it just me, or is the thought of 'guerilla gardening' almost overwhelming when you have one of these babies to spare? The idea of planting one secretly somewhere and imagining the "Now how the bloody hell did that get there?" to come in a couple of hundred years just makes me chuckle! Twisted Evil

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Kev Bailey on Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:11 am

Yep HR the Coast Redwood is more forgiving. My favourite of the bunch is the Dawn Redwood though. It looks delicate with soft, Yew like foliage but is hard as nails. It will bounce back from near death experiences, can be trimmed back to the trunk and it propagates readily from cuttings and airlayers. I also like the fact that it is deciduous so you get the advantage of a nice contrast between the winter image and the fresh green in spring.

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Mo Acha on Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:08 pm

Harleyrider said: "I've got 4 Coastal in a small pot (a gift from my wife). The pot is waaay too small for them, I think, but I'm waiting until winter before I transplant them into the ground for a few years as they seem happy enough. I've had them about 4 months now, and they have grown between 4 - 5 inches since then! No feeding, just regular watering (living in northern England, that's easy to maintain!)."

Your 4 Coastals should really like your climate. Be careful about planting the trees in the ground for too long as they may develop large tap roots depending on your soil. If you plan on them being in the ground for more than a couple of years, put a flat stone the size of the root ball under it when you first plant it in the ground. This helps keep a large tap root from forming and encourages the roots to go sideways. Ideal for bonsai. If you cut a large tap root upon transplant, the tree's chances of dying are much greater. This is the main problem in collecting trees from the wild. Low survival rate after a large tap root is cut.

As a prime example, California Junipers are extremely rare and valued as bonsai collected from the wild because they have one of the lowest survival rates of any type of collected tree. This is due to the large and long tap root it needs to survive in one of the hottest, driest deserts on earth, the Mojave Desert, Ca. USA. It must send this tap root down very deep for water. I collected this 11 incher 24 years ago and got lucky. I'm just now going to start styling it after I settled on a style (traditional). You can see the large tap root in the center of the root ball. This little baby is most likely 100+ years old and may the smallest one in captivity. If someone has a smaller one of these than 11 inches high, or knows of one collected from the wild, please let me know.


Here is a picture taken about 3 months ago of the Coastal Redwood that is still at my boyhood home (I moved but close). As you can see, they do really well along the coast of the Pacific Ocean (they don't call them Coastals for noth'in Very Happy ). You would not guess from the picture that this area is on the fringes of the Mojave Desert! The trunk is 3X larger now than it was back in 1957 when I moved there. A real beauty...




Last edited by Mo Acha on Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:19 am; edited 20 times in total

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

Post  Harleyrider on Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:39 pm

Thanks Kev & Mo. Good idea about the stone for blocking the tap root! I've got loads of roof slates spare, I'll slip one under each tree.

I've had another thought actually. How do you think one of the trees would fare if I made a raft from it? Do they react in the same way as any other tree, or are they a bit fussy aboutthings like that? The method I would use would be to wire all the branches and the leader so they all faced the same way, remove a section of bark from the underside of the trunk where each branch emerges, then lie the whole thing flat on the 'soil' with the rootball buried.

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Re: Giant Sequoia Redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum)-Anyone have Bonsai Experiance with these Relics?

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