After wanting a coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, for many years, I now have one in my collection. As the first order of business is to get it healthy, I’ve been feeding and watering heavily this year. Just in the past two months, it’s put on a lot of new growth.
It’s still too early for wiring or styling, but I was able to do some cutback while the tree continues to gain vigor. I did the cutback during a recent Bay Island Bonsai workshop. Boon suggested cutting back to branches with at least two growing tips, so I did that. We also talked about the kinds of growth redwoods produce. At a glance, it’s easy to see where last year’s weak growth stopped and this year’s vigorous growth kicked in.
Tiny leaflets from last year followed by this year’s more vigorous growth
Looking closer, one can see that redwoods actually produce two kinds of growth – the flat leaflets in neat rows or radial leaflets that are a bit larger and more spaced out.
Radial leaflets below, opposite leaflets above
Here are the two kinds of shoots side by side.
Different redwood shoots
The main thing to know about the different shoots is that the radially distributed leaflets indicate more vigorous shoots. Below is a shot of a branch that shows a vigorous shoot at the tip of the branch, strong growth from this year on the sides and last year’s smaller leaves in the branch’s interior.
One common technique for training redwood is to clip leaves in half. As redwoods cannot produce buds mid-leaf, this approach pushes growth further back. This isn’t recommended for branch refinement as the best outcome from this approach is lots of back buds that over time can produce knobs. Worst case, weak branches can die if they don’t bud back.
Note previously clipped leaf (yell0w) and new growth emerging from the base of the branch.
I put the tree back on the bench after minor cutback and will see about wiring when the tree produces strong growth in the tree’s interior.
Redwood – after cutback
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