Tips for Coastal Redwood


I recently moved to San Francisco and picked up a hobby which I wanted to start for a long time: Bonsai!

I love nature and go hiking in the mountains as much as I can. Staring at trees is my favourite thing to do when I’m beaten down after multiple days of walking. I hope with Bonsai I can recreate some of these experiences at home.

I’ve started to accumulate some trees on which I will work on for the coming years (I hope!). One of the trees I’m the most excited about is a coastal redwood I got recently. I was hoping to get some tips on how to go further from the current state:

To be clear: I keep it outside in a very sunny spot, but for the pictures I took it inside :).

It’s growing well and I think I need to thin it out a bit first. I do however want to make sure I don’t ruin any potential branches that might be useful. The big branch in the middle seems to be dead, and around it’s base a circle of new growth has formed, unfortunately these are all at the same height. I was hoping for a more alternating pattern. It also looks like at the nursery, they removed these sprouts regularly. There is one woody branch which I will use for the apex, and I am thinking about applying some wire to this branch soon to get some movement in it, but am a bit concerned to how it will look with the dead branch in front of it.

All suggestions are welcome!

The tree looks nice and healthy - a good thing! The main challenge, as you noted, is that many branches emerge from roughly the same point along the trunk. The main business at this point is selecting an apex and letting it thicken so the taper is good.

As for the branches, these can be wired anytime. The goals of wiring will be to add movement to the branches and to change the angle at which they emerge from the trunk.

Some thinning of branches may also be needed as there are a lot of them.

Once the apex is thicker, it can be cut back in an effort to stimulate more buds which can become the upper branches.

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Thanks for the advice!

I think I will use the thickest branch that is currently there as the apex. To be able to grow it thicker, it seems like a good idea to remove some (or a lot) of the other branches coming from the same spot. How much of the tree can I remove without killing it? I feel like 3/4th of the branches can go.

Also, it seems that a lot of places where branches were cut, they died off and new growth started emerging from the base, any ways to avoid this?

Redwoods sucker a lot, so constant vigilance is required to keep these shoots emerging from the base in check.

As for cutback, redwoods can generally handle a lot of cutback, but do note that if you remove all but a handful of branches, the remaining branches may grow quite vigorously - plus there could be lots of new suckers too. An alternative is to remove some of the branches now and some later.