Dawn Redwood soil mix?

I have a field grown tree coming from a reputable mail order dealer that I’ve used before.

I’d appreciate suggestions for a soil mix for a Dawn Redwood. I seem to read conflicting information in various places. It appears to like acidic soils- should I include any Kanuma in the mix?

I have many soil components my garage: Akadama, Kanuma, Turface, OptiSorb (never used this), Red Lava, Pumice and Bark.

Just unsure of percentages of Lava, Pumice and other components!


Dawn Redwoods are one of my favorite species of trees. They’re such an awesome mix of powerful trunks, rugged bark, and that delicate, beautiful foliage. Anyway, I would first get rid of that Turface. Don’t pot anything with it. It holds too much water without giving much back to the tree. Since you have Akadama, that would be best, but I use Diatomaceous Earth (your Optisorb). Since Dawn Redwoods like water, you could use 2 parts Akadama, 1 part pumice, and 1 part lava rock. But they’re strong trees, so they would be fine in a standard 1:1:1 mix, too.

One side note, though, I’ve found that (here in Mississippi at least) my Dawn Redwood likes morning sun and afternoon shade in the summer so the leaves won’t sunburn. Just wanted to share that with you in case it will help.

Good luck with your DR! You’re going to enjoy it :grin:


BLewis, Many thanks for the words of wisdom.

I just started Bonsai three months ago but have read (own) nine books, have seen 20 Mirai videos and joined my local Club. I have 15 trees i’m working with and learning at warp speed (with a few commensurate mistakes along the way)! All is going very well.

I recently learned from Ryan’s video to not use Turface for the same reason you mentioned- consider it gone. I’ll use your 2:2:1 suggestion using Akadama.

So, is there no need for a splash of Kanuma due to the mild acidic tendency of the Redwood’s PH?

Thanks, I’m ready to go!

I’ll ensure afternoon shade in the heat of our summer- we actually get up to two week of 100 degrees and no humidity. The DR will go to my north garden in the summer with ferns and azaleas.

Sounds like you’re off and running :slight_smile: Keep studying, that’s the most important part in my opinion. And I don’t know if it was a typo, but my recommended ratio is 2:1:1 (akadama, pumice, and lava).

I haven’t had any issues with PH levels, so I wouldn’t worry too much about Kanuma. Unless your water is really hard (basic), then you should be okay.

I would like to see your tree when you feel like sharing a picture or two of it! Have fun!

Yep… Typo :grimacing::flushed:

My dawn redwood seedlings ( from montana) forest is now 10, have been doing great in 1:1:1 akadama, pumice, lava. 1.5" diam. Keep em <2 feet tall.

Eastern Wa state-- hot dry summer, cold winter. Keep em out of DIRECT sun above 90 F.
Remember-- they are elongating species. Let them grow all sumer and cut back in winter. Better limb structures. Wire em down in spring. Organ light fertilizer all summer.



Thanks for the insight.

Similar climate here in southern Oregon in the summer, hot and dry; not as cold in the winter though.

Thanks for sharing the photo!

Here are the requested photos of the Dawn Redwood that arrived today-- a week late due to NY Snow. I repotted it in a training pot using 1.5 Akadama, 1.0 pumice, 1.0 lava and kept some native soil (10% of the total mix or so. Tree stands 22’ tall. Ill leave it alone due to transplanting stress but may reduce the apex 5" in the fall down to the large branch on the left side-- plenty of time to evaluate this. Thanks again for your advice.


Cool! Let it grow! Organic fertilzer…
Just me…l… would trim the apical buds after they harden off. That will force strength down. Maybe cut half of the right trunk in the middle of summer. Will give the left trunk a chance to take off.
The left trunk… the little right-hand bud halfway… looks like a new top… the little 3 lower limbs…wire and bend down very slowly over two summers. Let them grow long.
When you DO cut, leave a stub. It will die back. Contour the cut later. It will look knarly!

sorry…got excited…Im working on my redwoods right now …and my pines, and my apples, and…:rofl::rofl::rofl::blush:

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Well KurtP, I can’t believe the budding on this tree. In fact, I reduced a significant amount of foliage prior to these new photos; there were 5-6 new branches forming at the base of each existing branch. I felt, correctly or incorrectly, that I wanted more definition of the existing branches. I also wired down the thickest branch a week ago. I’ll now let it grow…

BTW, I have seen three cicadas on my trees in the last couple of days- haven’t seen any here in quite a while.

Hmm… I’ll have to see how to attach the new photos in another post.

Good luck with summer efforts. Brian

KurtP and blewis1975, DR Updated photos.

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I’m jealous… mine don’t grow cicada…:roll_eyes:

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Hi @OregonTerp how is the Dawn Redwood coming along? I just repotted my Dawn Redwood Forest today. What do you think of it ? IMG_20190302_180832_795


My forest is still under a foot of snow. 5F tonight…
Post another photo when it leafs out.
@OregonTerp … ya post another photo when yours is leafed. Did that cicada find a mate?

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Hi KurtP and Ali.bonsai,
I redesigned my Dawn Redwood by reducing the apex by 7-8 inches. I thought I might get a more uniformed branch size and thickness. I also decided to wire the branches downward while they’re young for better symmetry. We’ll find out soon as it leaves out this spring. It’s still in a training pot. I’ve attached a simple photo but will take one with a better background in a month.

Both of you guys have thick trunks on your DRs- can’t wait until mine grows. The amount of budding is incredible on this species.

Brian (oregonTerp)

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Love it. How old is the forest? Great pot!

I am not sure about the age. These were two separate forests a group of 9 and a small group of 6. It looks farely young considering it doesn’t have an aged bark. this is what it looked like. I have a larger dawn redwood as well bald cypress which im looking to air layer some point

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Hi Brian.

I love how your DR is developing. I can see it being an amazing tree in a few years. Yes they bud like crazy lol but that’s the best thing about it as you can always grow a brach out wherever you want.

If you’re on instagram you can check out my other trees on @owlsandbonsais. Yes it is all in the name owls and bonsais. Two of the most craziest hobbies that I’ve adopted and love.


Heres a picture of the leaves developing.

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