10" Tall Redwood Bonsai (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) Tree Displayed On Wooden Rack at Home Garden

Redwood Bonsai (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) Ultimate Guide

Redwood Bonsai trees have a distinct appearance that sets them apart from other bonsai varieties. Their tall, upright trunks, adorned with reddish-brown, scaly bark, create a captivating visual impact. The foliage of Redwood Bonsai trees can vary based on the species and season. They typically have needle-like or scale-like foliage, with shades of green in evergreen redwoods and rusty-orange in deciduous redwoods during fall.

Key Takeaways:

  • Redwood Bonsai trees have long, slim, upright trunks that make them suitable for large-sized bonsai.
  • The Metasequoia glyptostroboides species is commonly cultivated for bonsai art.
  • Redwood Bonsai trees have distinctive features, including reddish-brown, scaly bark and needle-like or scale-like foliage.
  • They thrive in full sun but may require some shade protection in extremely hot regions.
  • Regular watering, fertilization, pruning, and repotting are essential for the health and development of Redwood Bonsai trees.

About Redwood Bonsai Trees

Redwood Bonsai trees are a unique and captivating addition to any bonsai collection. They are known for their tall, upright growth habits and are native to China and the Pacific coast of North America. The two species most commonly cultivated for bonsai art are the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and the Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens).

The Dawn Redwood is a deciduous tree, meaning it sheds its leaves in the fall, while the Coastal Redwood is an evergreen tree with foliage that remains green throughout the year. Both species have needle-like or scale-like foliage, adding to their natural beauty. These redwood species are particularly suitable for bonsai styling due to their growth characteristics.

Redwood Bonsai trees are known for their distinctive reddish-brown, scaly bark and tall, upright trunks. The mature bark peels off in narrow strips as the trees age, creating an interesting visual texture. While redwoods do produce flowers and cones, their main aesthetic appeal comes from their unique foliage, bark, and overall graceful form.

Growth Habits and Suitable Species

Redwood Bonsai trees have a natural tendency to grow tall, making them well-suited for larger-sized bonsai trees. The upright growth habit of redwoods lends itself to creating impressive, towering bonsai specimens. Both the Dawn Redwood and the Coastal Redwood have growth characteristics that make them relatively easy to manage and style as bonsai trees.

The Dawn Redwood is prized for its rapid growth and beautiful autumn color display when the foliage changes to a stunning rusty-orange. The Coastal Redwood, on the other hand, is known for its lush, vibrant green foliage and impressive overall size. These characteristics make both species popular choices for bonsai enthusiasts looking to cultivate striking and visually appealing redwood bonsai trees.

Appearance of Redwood Bonsai Trees

The mature bark of redwood trees adds to their unique aesthetic. Over time, the bark peels off in narrow strips, revealing a smooth, reddish-brown surface underneath. This natural process of bark shedding adds character and texture to the bonsai. While Redwood Bonsai trees do produce flowers and cones, they are not the main focus of their visual appeal, with the bark and foliage taking center stage.

When styling and shaping a Redwood Bonsai tree, it is important to consider its distinctive appearance. The tall trunk and foliage arrangement can be accentuated through careful pruning and wiring techniques. By capturing the essence of their natural features, Redwood Bonsai trees can become captivating and eye-catching additions to any bonsai collection.

Light Requirements for Redwood Bonsai Trees

Redwood Bonsai trees thrive when placed outdoors in full sun year-round. These trees are naturally suited to the full sun, which provides them with the necessary energy to grow and thrive. When exposed to ample sunlight, Redwood Bonsai trees develop strong branches and vibrant foliage.

In regions where the temperature exceeds 85°F (29.4°C) in the peak of summer, it’s important to provide some shade protection for your Redwood Bonsai. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between shade and sunlight. Prolonged shade can cause the bonsai tree’s leaves to grow larger and weaken the overall structure.

When choosing a location for your Redwood Bonsai tree, look for an open area in your garden or balcony that receives direct sunlight for most of the day. Placing your bonsai near a south-facing window can also provide the necessary sunlight indoors. Remember, consistent exposure to full sun will promote the health and vitality of your Redwood Bonsai tree.

Watering Redwood Bonsai Trees

Proper watering is essential for the health and vitality of your Redwood Bonsai trees. These trees have a high water requirement, especially in warmer climates or during the growing season. It is important to monitor the moisture levels in the soil and water the bonsai as soon as the surface becomes slightly dry.

To ensure thorough watering, it is recommended to water the bonsai until the water runs out of the drainage holes. This helps to flush out any accumulated salts and ensures that the entire root system receives sufficient moisture. Repeat this process as necessary, keeping in mind that overwatering can lead to root rot and other problems.

Using a moisture meter can be a helpful tool in determining when to water your Redwood Bonsai. These meters provide an accurate measurement of the moisture levels in the soil, allowing you to water your bonsai at the optimal time. Insert the probe into the soil and note the moisture reading. Water your bonsai when the moisture level drops below the desired threshold.

Key Points for Watering Redwood Bonsai Trees:

  • Monitor moisture levels and water as soon as the soil surface becomes slightly dry.
  • Water until water runs out of the drainage holes to ensure thorough watering.
  • Use a moisture meter to accurately measure moisture levels in the soil.
  • Water your bonsai when the moisture level drops below the desired threshold.

Fertilizing Redwood Bonsai Trees

Fertilizing is an essential aspect of caring for your Redwood Bonsai trees. During the growing season, it is recommended to use a high-nitrogen fertilizer to promote strong growth and enhance the overall health of your bonsai. A high-nitrogen product will provide the necessary nutrients for vigorous foliage development and help your bonsai thrive.

When applying fertilizer, it is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure the correct dosage. Over-fertilizing can lead to excessive growth and weak branches, while under-fertilizing can result in poor health and stunted growth. It is crucial to strike the right balance to maintain the optimal health and vitality of your Redwood Bonsai.

During the growing season, which typically starts in early spring and lasts until late summer, fertilize your Redwood Bonsai every four to six weeks. This regular application of fertilizer will provide a consistent supply of nutrients to support robust growth. However, as the summer progresses, it is advisable to reduce the frequency of fertilization to avoid excessive growth that may be difficult to manage.

Fertilizer Selection

When choosing a fertilizer for your Redwood Bonsai, opt for a product specifically formulated for bonsai trees. Look for a high-nitrogen fertilizer with a balanced ratio of nutrients, such as a 10-6-4 or 12-6-6 blend. These ratios indicate the percentage of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) contained in the fertilizer.

In addition to the NPK ratio, consider using a slow-release fertilizer that will gradually release nutrients over a longer period. This will help maintain a steady supply of nutrients to your bonsai tree, reducing the risk of over-fertilization and nutrient deficiencies.

Potting Redwood Bonsai Trees

Proper potting is essential for the health and growth of your Redwood Bonsai trees. Repotting should be done every two years in mid to late spring to maintain proper root health and prevent the pot from becoming filled too quickly. Follow these guidelines for successful potting:

  1. Repotting Schedule: Redwood Bonsai trees should be repotted every two years in mid to late spring. This timing allows the tree to recover from the stress of repotting during the active growing season.
  2. Root Pruning: When repotting, perform root pruning to remove any tangled or circling roots. This encourages new root growth and prevents root-bound conditions.
  3. Fresh Soil: Always use fresh bonsai soil when repotting your Redwood Bonsai tree. Choose a well-draining soil mix that retains moisture while allowing excess water to flow out of the pot.

Propagating Redwood Bonsai Trees

Propagating Redwood Bonsai trees allows you to expand your collection and create new bonsai specimens. There are several methods you can use to propagate these trees, including seeds, cuttings, and air-layering.


One way to propagate Redwood Bonsai trees is by collecting and planting seeds. Seeds can be harvested from mature trees and planted in well-draining soil mixtures in the spring. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seeds germinate, which can take several weeks. It’s important to note that growing Redwood Bonsai trees from seeds requires patience, as they can take several years to reach a desirable size for bonsai training.


Another method of propagation is through cuttings. Select healthy, semi-hardwood cuttings from the current season’s growth and remove the lower leaves. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and plant it in a well-draining soil medium. Ensure the cutting receives bright, indirect light and maintain humidity by covering it with a plastic bag or misting regularly. With proper care, the cutting will develop roots over several weeks and can then be potted as a new bonsai tree.


A more advanced technique for propagating Redwood Bonsai trees is air-layering. This method involves creating a wound on a mature branch, applying rooting hormone, and wrapping the area with moist sphagnum moss or a similar rooting medium. This encourages the branch to form new roots. Once roots have developed, the branch can be separated from the parent tree and planted as a new bonsai. Air-layering is particularly useful for obtaining pre-styled material with established characteristics.

Pruning Redwood Bonsai Trees

Pruning is a crucial aspect of maintaining the health and shape of your Redwood Bonsai tree. Proper pruning helps to control growth, encourage new bud formation, and shape the overall appearance of the tree.

Here are some important tips for pruning your Redwood Bonsai:

1. Twig Pruning

Regularly prune twigs with long internodes to maintain the desired shape of your Redwood Bonsai. It is best to prune the twigs in early spring before new buds open, in early summer after buds have hardened, and in late fall or early winter once new buds have set. Pruning during these specific times allows the tree to recover quickly and promotes healthy growth.

2. Shaping

Redwoods tolerate pruning well and can produce new buds near scars, which makes them suitable for shaping and styling. You can use pruning techniques such as branch shortening, thinning, and wiring to create the desired shape for your bonsai tree. However, be cautious when wiring as the branches of older redwood specimens can be brittle. Proper support with annealed copper bonsai wire and the use of guy wires for additional support can help prevent damage.

3. Maintenance Pruning

In addition to twig pruning and shaping, regular maintenance pruning is essential to remove any dead, diseased, or crossing branches. This helps to maintain the overall health and aesthetics of your Redwood Bonsai tree. Make sure to use clean and sharp bonsai pruning tools to avoid damaging the tree and encourage quick healing of wounds.

Wiring Redwood Bonsai Trees

Wiring is an essential technique in shaping and styling your redwood bonsai tree. However, it should be done with caution to avoid damaging the branches. Redwood branches, especially in older specimens, can be brittle and prone to breakage. To wire your redwood bonsai tree, it is recommended to use annealed copper bonsai wire. This type of wire provides proper support and is easier to work with.

When wiring your redwood bonsai tree, make sure to apply the wire at a 60 to 65-degree angle for optimal branch support. Take care not to wrap the wire too tightly around the branches, as this can cause damage. Additionally, be mindful of the wire becoming too tight as the bonsai tree grows. Regularly check the wire and adjust or remove it when necessary.

Branch bending can also be done on redwood bonsai trees, but it should be approached with caution. Before attempting to bend a branch, evaluate its flexibility and strength. Gently apply pressure and gradually bend the branch to the desired position. If the branch feels resistant or shows signs of stress, discontinue bending to avoid breakage. In some cases, using guy wires can provide additional support during the bending process.

Here are some key points to remember when wiring and bending redwood bonsai trees:

  1. Use annealed copper bonsai wire for proper support.
  2. Apply the wire at a 60 to 65-degree angle for optimal branch support.
  3. Avoid wrapping the wire too tightly to prevent damage.
  4. Regularly check the wire and adjust or remove it as the bonsai tree grows.
  5. When bending branches, evaluate their flexibility and strength before applying pressure.
  6. Gradually bend the branch to the desired position, taking breaks if necessary.
  7. Use guy wires for additional support during the bending process if needed.

Overwintering Redwood Bonsai Trees

When it comes to overwintering your Redwood Bonsai trees, it’s important to provide them with the necessary winter protection to ensure their survival. Redwood Bonsai trees are not tolerant of freezing temperatures below 32°F (0°C), so taking precautions is essential.

You have a few options for providing winter protection to your Redwood Bonsai trees. One option is to move them indoors to a greenhouse or an unheated room that remains above freezing temperatures. This will shield the trees from the harsh winter conditions while still giving them access to some natural light.

Another option is to use a cold frame, which is a small, enclosed structure that provides insulation and protection from the cold. Cold frames are typically placed over the bonsai trees and can be used to regulate temperature and humidity levels. This option allows the trees to stay outside while still receiving the necessary protection.

Pests and Diseases of Redwood Bonsai Trees

While Redwood Bonsai trees are generally hardy, they can still be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Being aware of these potential issues and taking preventive measures will help keep your bonsai healthy and thriving.

Common pests that can affect Redwood Bonsai trees include aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. Regularly inspect your bonsai for signs of infestation, such as sticky residue, yellowing leaves, or tiny webs. To prevent these pests from spreading, you can use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil, following the instructions on the label for proper treatment.

In terms of diseases, Redwood Bonsai trees may occasionally develop fungal or bacterial infections. To prevent these issues, ensure your bonsai receives adequate sunlight and proper airflow to promote good health. If you notice any signs of fungal or bacterial infection, such as discoloration, wilting, or unusual growths, it is important to treat them promptly with appropriate fungicides or bactericides.


What are the different species of Redwood Bonsai trees commonly cultivated?

The two commonly cultivated species are the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and the Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens).

How should I care for Redwood Bonsai trees in terms of light requirements?

Redwood Bonsai trees thrive when placed outdoors in full sun year-round, with some shade protection in regions where temperatures exceed 85°F (29.4°C) in summer.

What is the watering schedule for Redwood Bonsai trees?

Water the bonsai as soon as the soil surface becomes slightly dry, ensuring thorough watering until the water runs out of the drainage holes.

When and how should I fertilize my Redwood Bonsai trees?

Use a high-nitrogen fertilizer in the spring for strong growth. Adjust fertilization in summer to avoid excessive growth.

How often should Redwood Bonsai trees be repotted?

Repot every two years in mid to late spring to maintain proper root health and prevent the pot from filling too quickly.

What are the methods for propagating Redwood Bonsai trees?

Redwood Bonsai trees can be propagated through seeds, cuttings, and air-layering techniques.

How should I prune my Redwood Bonsai trees?

Prune twigs with long internodes 2 to 3 times a year, preferably in spring, early summer, and late fall or early winter.

Can I wire Redwood Bonsai trees for shaping?

Yes, but be cautious as the branches can be brittle. Use annealed copper bonsai wire applied at a 60 to 65-degree angle for support.

How should I protect Redwood Bonsai trees during winter?

Provide appropriate winter protection by moving the bonsai to a greenhouse, cold frame, or unheated room to avoid freezing temperatures.

Are Redwood Bonsai trees prone to pests and diseases?

Redwood Bonsai trees are generally hardy, but if infestations or infections occur, appropriate insecticides, pesticides, or fungicides should be used.

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