How to Care for Coastal Redwood

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Coastal redwoods are the oldest -- and largest -- trees alive.
Coastal redwoods are the oldest -- and largest -- trees alive. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

One of the most majestic and breath-taking moments you may experience is gazing on a stand of coastal redwood trees. Occasionally towering over 360 feet, coastal redwoods are the tallest trees on the planet. Not surprising, when you consider that they thrived during the Paleozoic Era, when dinosaurs roamed more than 160 million years ago. Added to that, many redwood coastal trees are 600 to 1,200 years old. Incidentally, their Latin name, sequoia sempervirens, means "ever living" in Latin, as Humboldt County Convention & Visitors Bureau reveals. Growing a coastal redwood isn't very difficult. Originating from a fairly small area of the Pacific Rim, they like fairly mild temperatures, and thrive in the fog. Fog is a self-irrigating practice that provides them with all the water they need. Outside the region, coastal redwoods can still be grown. Just follow some general guidelines.

Things You'll Need

  • Acidic soil
  • Mulch
  • Garden hose
  • Ericaceous plant food fertilizer or general-purpose fertilizer

Grow coastal redwoods in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7 through 10 -- which includes most of southeast and south central United States, along with the Pacific west. Coastal redwoods are not cold tolerant; redwoods will survive occasional freezing temperatures, but will suffer below 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Plant coastal redwoods at least 15 to 30 feet apart to give them plenty of room to grow; crowded conditions can cause the trees to drop their lower branches. Additionally, coastal redwoods grow quickly and large. In climates similar to the Pacific coastal region, they gain 3 to 5 feet a year, reaching 90 feet tall in 25 years with final size up to 300 feet tall and width of as much as 100 feet. In other areas, the growth rate may prove slower and even its final size less.

Use soil that is slightly acidic in nature if possible, although coastal redwoods can tolerate most any soil. Locate your coastal redwood in an area that receives full sunlight, if you live in a milder climate, and to a partially sunny area if you live in a warmer climate.

Spread a thick layer of mulch around your coastal redwood and avoid walking on the root zone, especially until it is many years old. Soil compaction from walking on it is hard on the roots. Mulch helps prevent plant growth, which competes with the tree, along with insulating the ground in colder temperatures and maintaining ground moisture. Extend the mulch as the tree grows, covering the ground as widely as the leaves spread to estimate.

Water your coastal redwood regularly. Avoid soggy soil, but do not let it suffer drought either. Run a garden hose out to the tree and water deeply, then wait until the first 3 inches of soil feel dry again. Increase watering schedule in extremely hot weather. Also consider misting the tree when it is small, or if you are growing it indoors, to promote self-irrigation.

Fertilize your coastal redwood using either general purpose plant food or plant food for ericaceous plants -- ericaceous plants, such as rhododendrons and azaleas, also thrive in acidic soils and do not like lime, similar to the coastal redwood. Follow fertilizer instructions; apply during the summer, especially the first five years of the tree's life when nutrition is essential.

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