Coast Redwood advice for beginner

I have a 7 year-old potted redwood I’m considering growing as Bonsai. It is about 10’ tall and has been growing in a large pots for 5-6 years without repotting. The trunk is quite straight (never pruned) with diameter is 4" at the base and 2" just above it.

I’m an absolute beginner from the SF Bay area - just started watching the videos on this site and am still overwhelmed with information - hoping for tips / links to help focus my study:

  • What would be the first steps? repotting? shortening the trunk? both? Is now the right time?
  • Is it already time to choose the style of the tree?
  • What would be a reasonable “roadmap” for developing this tree?
  • Should I keep the the trees in their deep pots for now, or already switch to shallower containers?


Hi Youval, first let me apologise for a lack of anybody welcoming you to the forum. It doesn’t normally happen this way.
As for your tree. You definitely need to repot it this year whether you bonsai it or not.
I’m growing on a few at the moment and to induce a good taper I prune off the leader and wire up a relative strong branch. How far you cut back depends on two things, how much growth you have below the cut and the finished size you require.
You can also choose an initial style at this stage, eg whether you want a single apex or multiple apices.
If you want faster development (and fattening of the trunk) it’s best to repot back into the existing pot.
I always repot in March but it depends on your local conditions if you can pot earlier.
Don’t forget to take lots of photos as it develops so you can look back with pride…

Hi Keith - Thanks for the advice!

I’ve pruned and repotted the redwood yesterday (using a 15 gal pot - hopefully large enough to allow growth, but easier to handle in the next repotting)

I encountered some issues that I will need to deal with in the future:

  • What kind of cut should I make on the top? I’d like 1-2 new leaders to grow, simulating an old tree whose top was broken (leaving some deadwood)
  • How short should I cut the main branches? They are already quite thick. For now I think I left enough length for future adjustment
  • How much should I have shortened the taproot? I shortened it to about 4-5 inches from the base of the trunk (where it’s roughly 1.75" thick). I’ll probably need to shorten it further in the future to have the tree fit a bonsai pot. Not sure what tools / technique I will need to use for that ( I used a lopper this time).


Hi Youval, sorry for the delay, haven’t been on here for a few days. For now the cut on the top is ok. You may find a new leader developing from the crotch of one of the two top branches. This can be wired once it has lignified. You have pruned the branches ok for now as it is still in development. It depends on how many other roots there was as to how much the tap root can be cut. I would imagine, given the length of time in the pot there were plenty. Next repot you can remove it entirely with a pruning saw.
The size of pot it good to continue developing the tree.
From the photo it looks like there is a low branch at the bottom of the right side. You could use this to create another trunk which could look quite cool.