John Steinbeck wrote, "No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe."
Steinbeck was right. If you have never seen a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) in person in its native habitat, it is something to put on your bucket list. These beautiful giants will grow to only 100 feet tall in cultivation, but ancient trees growing in the wild commonly reach 300 in height. Even at a modest 100 feet, these unique trees are something you need to see for yourself to experience.
|Common Name||Coast Redwood, Coastal Redwood|
|Botanical Name||Sequoia sempervirens|
|Plant Type||Needled evergreen conifer|
|Mature Size||60 to 100 ft. tall, 35 ft. wide in cultivation|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Moist, rich, humusy, well-drained|
|Soil pH||6.5 slightly acidic|
|Hardiness Zones||7-9, USDA|
|Native Area||Western United States|
Sequoia Sempervirens Care
Depending on where you reside, especially in the west coast of the United States, the coast redwood might be one of the most common landscape trees in your area or a unique specimen sure to be the topic of plenty of conversations. Native to the coastal woodlands of the west coast from Oregon south to central California, the easiest way to make this beautiful evergreen conifer thrive is to replicate its native conditions. If you do this, you'll find that caring for your redwood care is fairly effortless.
Coast redwoods require full sun and do not tolerate shade.
Coast redwoods prefer the well-drained, sandy loam, acidic soil naturally found in its natural habit. These redwoods can adapt to other soil conditions but do not tolerate compacted, alkaline, or salty soil.
Keeping your coast redwood watered sufficiently is key to having a happy, healthy tree. The naturally occurring fog in its native habitat creates a mist that irrigates the tree in the woodlands, constantly fulfilling moisture needs. You will not have this natural irrigation in a residential setting, so it is essential to keep your tree watered until it is thoroughly established. To do this, water the tree weekly for the first five years of its life out to its dripline, where its extensive fibrous and shallow roots will absorb the most water.
Temperature and Humidity
Coast redwoods favor climates where the temperatures range between 15 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit with high precipitation levels. The tree's native range has an average temperature of 40-60 degrees Fahrenheit, with steady dampness provided by the coast and mountain weather systems. If you provide your tree with plenty of moisture and are located in USDA hardiness zones 7-9, it should do just fine.
Your tree should do fine without any added nutrients and should thrive without supplemental fertilizers. One issue to watch for is yellowing needles during the summer, which could be caused by alkaline or neutral soil. The redwood prefers acidic soil with an ideal soil pH of 6.5. Higher soil pH can disrupt the tree's ability to absorb iron, leading to needle yellowing. If you notice yellowing, it is best to test the soil pH level.
Popular Small Cultivars of Sequoia Sempervirens
If you want to plant a tree as large as the coast redwood, you must seek out cultivars that will thrive in your local conditions, especially when space is a consideration. The nursery trade has not let us down; it has provided consumers with compact and spreading cultivars:
- Sequoia sempervirens 'Kelly's Prostrate' Is a dwarf cultivar that is flat-growing, ground cover with bright-green foliage that turns slightly gold in cooler climates. After ten years, the tree will measure no more than eight inches tall and 60 inches wide.
- Sequoia sempervirens 'Pendula' is an upright weeping cultivar with intermediate growth habits. It will reach a modest height of five to ten feet after ten years.
- Sequoia sempervirens 'Yurok Prince' is another spreading cultivar of redwood, this one with layered horizontal branching. This cultivar develops no leader and layers branches as it grows. A mature specimen will measure five feet tall and twenty feet wide.
- Sequoia sempervirens 'Filoli' is a fast-growing cultivar with an upright form and beautiful steel blue foliage. A mature tree will measure 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide.
Coast redwoods require very little pruning. You can remove dead and broken branches and lower branches from your tree to expose the attractive bark. Falling needles and broken branches around the bottom of the tree will create its own naturally occurring mulch called duff.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
One of the truly wonderful things about coast redwood trees is that they are very resistant to all pests and diseases once mature. Even a tree that is temporarily plagued by pests will not suffer any ill effects.
Considerations Before Planting
Before you decide to plant a coast redwood in your home landscape, you have to consider its size. The coast redwood is massive, and it can cause problems with your property's infrastructure due to its size and extensive, shallow, fibrous root structure. To avoid problems, plan the proper placement of these majestic giants before planting one on your property.
Oberson, Ed. “Sequoia Sempervirens.” Callaloo, vol. 25, no. 4, 2002, pp. 1034–1035, doi:10.1353/cal.2002.0163
“Pacific Horticulture.” Pacifichorticulture.Org, 1 Oct. 2000.