Baby giant sequoia in winter

boredsuburbanDecember 19, 2013


I have a baby giant sequoia that I haven't watered in months. I had another one that died of root rot. I was told by someone that I should not water them in the winter because it's too cold, but I'm keeping the plants indoors. It's not hot inside but it's not cold either - about 60F but i'm not sure since it's next to a window and a heater as well. I checked the plant and it seems to be doing fine, with only a few needles on the bottom turning brown, but I don't know if the plant can survive the whole winter and spring without water. A few branches seem to be slightly browning. I attached a picture. It's not old at all, less than a year. What should I do? Leave it alone? Water it lightly? Put it in a warm spot with light and water it? Thanks for the help.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

all those words.. and you didnt tell us the result of inserting your finger.. and whether the media has any ambient moisture in it ..

why are you limited to the bipolar dichotomy of drowning it.. or trying to grow it in a desert???

forced air heat...or not ... whats the humidity in the house???

i appears happy where it is.. though growing horizontally for some reason .. lol .. why in the world would you move it for watering purpose???? you are concerned about the variable called 'water' .. so you are thinking.. hmmm.. i will change location.. light.. and temp as well... that is called loving it to death ... dont do that.. lets stick with water ... for now ...

give it two tablespoons of water ... and walk away .. why.. i dont know.. mostly because i dont think their native habitat is arid .... it definitely needs some moisture.. and not as much as you gave to the one that root rotted ... find a happy middle ...

most of us tree peeps.. will say.. trees dont grow in the house... long term ... you might want to get some diverse opinion.. in the houseplant forum .... or try the GW search engine ...

good luck ...


    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 1:08PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

60 is far too warm for a Sequoia in winter. Ideally, Sequoia seedlings are buried under several feet of snow for most of the winter, which is exactly what happens in their native habitat. Barring that, an unheated garage could suffice. Though, it will require acclimatization given its been 60 so far.

It seems to me that Sequoias around here are better planted outdoors when they have some size, enough to get them to some really strong growth within a few years at most. Otherwise bacterial infections like Cercospora and Kabatina can wipe them out during your typically humid summers.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 7:38AM
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hi boredsuburban,
My suggestion would be to water your seedling until water comes out the drain hole. You shouldn't have to water it again for a few weeks. Definitely keep it away from the heater and keep an eye on it for mites.
How far are you from Morris Plains NJ? There is a beauty there at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum linked below.
This pic is of a 15' Giant Sequoia at Baltimore's Cylburn Arboretum. I'm not sure about the brown branches, but otherwise it looks fine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Frelinghuysen Arboretum

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 7:42PM
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Yes, I don't know why this is being treated as some tender tropical. It is not...regardless of the actual species (which has not been identified). You are overheating it, and under watering it in my opinion. This is not some dainty, hothouse, tropical houseplant ...needs to be the ground. The only Sequoia that is marginal in NJ is the Coast Red...and even this one is being grown in certain areas (but not in houses).

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 9:21PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

The words "Giant Sequoia" in the OP, and the image shown, both suggest this is Sequoiadendron giganteum.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 9:40PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

The bigger issue with either of the two California redwood/sequoias - the summer humidity + heat combo does a number on them.

Sam_md, I'll have to stop at Cylburn sometime - I'm impressed that Sequoia looks that (relatively) good down here. I've never seen a healthy one in the East to speak of any bigger than a few feet. I've seen larger ones, but they always have a lot of dead spots in them.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 11:09PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

FWIW I don't think your little baby tree would have any issue surviving outdoors in a Long Island winter. Being in a pot might throw it off a bit, but mounding some leaves or mulch around it would probably be enough if your coldest weather is not accompanied by snowcover (which on Long Island can be hit or miss like it is here in MD).

    Bookmark   December 20, 2013 at 11:11PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

I haven't heard of any problems with heat and humidity with regard to Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). It seems to do perfectly fine across the southeastern US.

Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is a whole other story...

    Bookmark   December 21, 2013 at 12:24AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

I saw a Sequoiadendron gigantea at the National Arboretum in Washington DC in the Gotelli Collection. If I remember right, it was over 40 ft in the year 2000 and looked pretty good.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 2:54AM
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joeinmo 6b-7a

I have 6 baby giant sequoia, water them every day as long as you have well drained soil. They love water, they just don't like soil that's not well drained. If the rootball ever dries out, they will die.

If they are outside, they still need water, just not as much.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 4:13PM
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joeinmo 6b-7a


I have grown Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron Giganteum) from seedlings smaller than yours, I have attached photos.

These trees love water, in the wild the big trees transpire over 500 gallons of water a day, but they take in thousands of gallons per day. It's true that the small ones get snow cover which protects them from browning, but after 3-4 years, they will stay green without snow cover. If you have cold winters, your Giant Sequoia will be fine, they grow in areas that do get below zero from time to time. However, if they are potted do not let the rootball freeze, that may kill them. Hot moist summers will not kill them, fallacy. These trees are among the most hardy of all trees on the planet, they live for thousands of years, they see lots of different weather. The one thing they have all year round is water, the water comes from mountains and seeps up from crevices and keeps the trees well watered no matter how hot or dry it is. The biggest problem with these trees in areas out of their normal habitat is lack of water. I water my potted trees 2-3 times a day in 90-100 degree humid heat, and every day otherwise. The biggest thing is they need excellent drainage, not lack of water. These do not grow like other evergreens, do not even compare.

These trees will lose some of the bright green in winter, and turn darker, not to worry that is normal. Once you plant the tree in the ground, they will grow past nearly any pest or fungus you can throw at them.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 4:56PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

see link

Here is a link that might be useful: Sequoia diseases

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 10:37PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

California has a Mediterranean precipitation regime, summers are dry. You wouldn't have to water your trees so much if they were not in clay pots. And the pot the larger one in the ground is in is too small.

We have the same climate as California up here except winters are colder than in lowland California, and we do not have the numerous hot days of southern California. Sierra redwoods growing in the ground do not have to be watered up here. In the metropolitan areas (Portland, Seattle) July precipitation is typically less than 1".

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 2:11PM
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I took this pic yesterday. It is the original 'Hazel Smith' sequoia which is a popular blue form. The location is the former Watnong Nursery nr Parsippany NJ.
I don't think that the brown is normal and that bothers me.
Could this be Cercospora sequoiae, a fungus which attacks foliage of conifers? If so, how does one treat a tree of this size?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 7:43PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

I don't think one does treat a tree that size; basically, just hope it has the vitality to power through it. Usually I don't think it kills large trees, just babies.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 7:46PM
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Here is an example of 'Hazel Smith' at the Swarthmore College in PA. From a distance it looks like the picture of health.

Up close is not looking good. I hope it is not infected with the same disease mentioned earlier.
Cercospora sequoiae is responsible for killing giant sequoias in the east. Several have been removed at Longwood Gardens including mature ones at the Eye of Water feature.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2014 at 7:40PM
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joeinmo 6b-7a

Just went on a trip to California to several Giant Sequoia Groves and those trees have browning like that also, but its from a lack of water due to the California drought, it was not enough snow melt. These trees take in massive amounts of water, in addition there is a possibility of some die off after Pennsylvania's cold winter last year. They are very cold tolerant trees, but do not see -12F very often and for as many days as the PA area had.

The big thing is that Giant Sequoia are not Coastal Redwoods - they are totally different when it comes to tolerating cold. Giant Sequoia are not tropical plants or even Mediterranean in climate, at one time they grew all over the world when it was a wetter climate. The places they grow in California are very unique in that they pick up vast amounts of water from seeping snow melt that bubble up throughout the year.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2014 at 3:38PM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)


First, Swarthmore College is just west of Philly, the warmest place in the state. That area hasn't seen -12 since 1985. Last winter it barely got below 0 last winter. Most winters Philly struggles to get below 10.

Second, its clear from the images that the browning is on current growth, not something from previous years, so what's showing up as brown was not even around last winter to be damaged by the cold.

Third, the places in California are unique in that they are periodically swept by wildfire, providing mineral soil on which the seeds can germinate, while ALSO having plenty of subsurface moisture with which they can work with. Right now, Sequoias biggest threat in its native range is the lack of low intensity wildfire which is best at preparing seed beds for germination and growth.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2014 at 4:09PM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

They were doing controlled burning two years ago when I was visiting the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite and several years earlier when I was at the Calaveras Grove further north. There are very few young trees in both groves, hence the burning to get more started.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2014 at 1:53AM
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George Three LLC

i am not sold on this moisture loving issue. as bboy pointed out above, they grow like weeds here in the pacNW on no supplemental water. 36 inches here in Portland annually, add all the hard surfaces and the storm water headed directly to the river, equivalent to less than that. During the summer, what little water we get (a few inches tops in 3 months), will barely penetrate a mature sequoia's canopy, and shed off into the sewers, on to nearby roofs then to the sewers, etc.

Also note, they drop an insane amount of those pointy annoying needles every year. my side yard is shoes only for a month or so over the summer.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2014 at 6:56PM
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Hi, I have a question about potential root rot treatment. I have a 10 inch seedling in a big pot. it was very healthy till about December, but started to loose coloration at the ends of the branches (they become dry and gray). Sometime in October I accidentally left it under rain with drainage plugs closed for a day, and it was "swimming" in the pot. I made an effort to dry it out, but it still took a few days.

Currently the soil is damp, with about an inch of dry on top. I have not watered it much over the last several months. It also have not seen a significant amount of sun over the last few months.

I'll send a picture in a few hours when I get home.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2015 at 5:40PM
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here is the picture with gray dry ends marked.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2015 at 8:18PM
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beng(z6 western MD)

sam_md, I've been to Swarthmore where my nephew attended. Incredible landscaping and variety of plantings. Biggest northern catalpa, Amer beech and Amer elm I've seen.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2015 at 7:54AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

Some of the browning on the lower branches on the larger Sequoias shown can be attributed to shade. It doesn't take much shade for the foliage to die.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2015 at 1:03PM
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can someone confirm if this is root rot?

also, when I was washing them I found alot of "crispy" white "pebbles" attached to roots. they did not seem to be insect eggs, but who knows... they were lighter than water.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2015 at 2:37AM
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famartin(z5 NE NV)

What kind of environment are you keeping it in? Is it warm inside? Sequoias like winter.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2015 at 11:53PM
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hi, famartin

I was keeping it inside, at around 60-65F. was putting it outside when it was not raining and above freezing. It was good till the middle of December, but the ends of branches started to dryout. My best guess would be root rot from October rain that took me 3-4 days to dryout. Currently I've replanted it in clean pot with new soil, so let's see if it survives.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2015 at 11:47AM
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