Three months ago I pruned and repotted a coast redwood.
After root work
The tree responded well and produced new foliage.
New growth three months later
This is the response I’m used to from redwoods. I repotted a second tree that same day, however, and it’s recovery has been much slower (see “Coast redwood initial repot” for the repotting details).
After repotting in February
Three months later
As you can see, there is almost no difference between the two photos. The tree hadn’t budged at all until a few weeks ago when new buds started swelling. The new buds showed up in three main places – at the tips of pruned branches, at the base of pruned branches, and near the base of the trunk.
Buds at the tip of a branch
Shoots growing at the base of a branch
Shoots growing at the base of the trunk
Both of these trees grew in the same location for the past two years and received similar water and sunlight. Why the difference in response?
One guess is that the larger tree simply had more reserves from which to draw upon, but as both trees have relatively large trunks, I’d expect both to produce lots of new growth.
Another guess has to do with the health of the foliage that remained after pruning in February. Both trees showed signs of “burnt” looking foliage – yellowing and browning on the leaves – when I acquired the trees last year. And both trees produced lots of healthy new foliage in the latter half of last year. After pruning, however, I was able to preserve mostly healthy foliage on the large tree and very little healthy foliage on the smaller tree. It could be that leaving the smaller tree with no healthy foliage after cutting a significant number of roots really put the brakes on.
Or not. With a sample size of two trees it’s hard to make good conclusions. The next time I repot coast redwoods I’ll take note of how much good foliage and roots I have to work with and see if any patterns start to emerge based on how they respond to the work.
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