Rootbound Coast Redwood

Hi All,

I just picked up this Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens"Soquel") from the local nursery. I knew it was pretty rootbound before I got it, but had no idea the extent of it until I got it home. To start, there was virtually no soil left. It was a solid block of roots, with many being dead. Second, the base had literally grown right around the bamboo pole that once held it up straight when it was clearly much smaller. I actually think down the road, with a light bit of carving, this could provide an interesting feature.

In order to perform a repot, I felt there was no choice but to use a saw and cut the bottom half of the root ball off. They were mostly dead anyways. I’ve heard Ryan say these can take some pretty extreme root pruning, so I felt pretty confident in this move. I combed out and cut roots that were circling the base, but I left what was left largely untouched. I’m thinking it’s going to be a multi year process over time to work the roots out of the mess.

I do have a couple questions. First, should I cut back any foliage to compensate for the root prune or just let it go to recover? Second, has anybody else ever had a root bound nursery tree this bad? And if so how did you deal with the block of roots?

Thank you!

I don’t have any experience with nursery stock that is that root bound but I do have experience with redwoods. I would let the tree be and see how it responds after the repot, I’m sure it will be just fine as redwoods are very strong.

Alex, you don’t need to touch the foliage as it will help it recover. You’ll find that this is pretty standard for a coastal redwood that is left to grow on without work done to it. I’ve recently repotted 4 of them and all were hard work. Each took around three hours to comb out the roots.

Great, thank you. It still took me all of 3 hours as well, even with the handsaw to reduce. It was all of 2 hours just to get down the 1.5-2" to reveal the base… I could certainly feel it in the arm and shoulder the next day! It’s looking happy as can be as of today, and the new growth tips are elongating nice and strong.

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@Alex_B How did this Coast Redwood fare this summer?

It grew incredibly strong, almost too strong. Pruned once in summer and it kept cranking all the way through November. Going to need to give it another good prune here as well. Was hoping to do it earlier, but might go at it in the next couple weeks. It is pushing so many new shoots on the exterior and all the way back at the primary bench junctions.

I am trying to figure out how to coax this growth into the bare right side. Any thoughts other than a graft?

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Make the bare right side a feature? Bring the second right branch down a bit and leave the big gap. Trees are not always perfect.


Update :

Decided to take back the foliage tonight, clear things up, and make some initial design decisions. I really like what came out of it, particularly clearing up the top. Originally wasn’t sure how I’d like the formal upright with the kick to the side at the top, but seeing it now feels pretty rad.

Also poked with a chopstick too check root health. Looking very solid…

Excited to see this one fill out this growing season.


And finished the job today.


Wow, big transformation.

Awesome. How is this tree doing? Got any updated photos?

I think I was off just a touch on timing, but it’s still pushing out some nice new growth, and even backbudded nicely on a few branches. Overall pretty satisfied on how it responded to the heavy work.

Also discovered a few adult vine weevils munching on some needless this past week I’m now trying to get rid of…