Redwood Bonsai

Coastal Redwood, also called Coast or California Redwood, calls one region on Earth home. These trees, the largest trees in the world, can be found on the northern coast of California and southern coast of Oregon. The tallest of this species, and of all trees, is the Hyperion, which measures 379.3 feet tall. Want to feel what it’s like to drop from that height? Ride the roller coaster Superman: Escape from Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain; it has a drop of 328 feet.

These giants are also famous for their massive CO2 consumption. They consume more carbon dioxide than any other plant on earth! They store the carbon in their trunks and in the ground; when the tree dies or is cut down, the carbon is then returned to the atmosphere. This is one of the reasons why many conservationists are concerned by the California Redwood’s endangered status. If the they disappear, it will have lasting, long-term negative effects on the environment. Entire ecosystems would disappear forever.

These trees are hardy; the species has been around since just after the time of the dinosaurs, and it’s resistant to fire, many tree diseases and fungus,  and decay. A single tree can live to be 1,000-2,000 years or older with the right conditions. These conifer trees are fast growers, gaining 12-24 inches each growing season. Growing speed and general resistance to poor growing conditions make California Redwoods an excellent choice for Bonsai beginners.

Growing Redwood Bonsai from Seeds

Coastal Redwoods are relatively simple trees to grow – once they make it to the seedling stage. Unfortunately, they are poor germinators. Only 5% of seeds planted will germinate. Growing these conifers from burls or cuttings is much easier than developing the tree from its unreliable seeds. But if you like a challenge and want to attempt to grow your Coastal Redwood bonsai from a seed, you need to plant a minimum of 10 fresh seeds; however, planting 15-30 seeds is preferred.

  • Your best option is to get cones from an older tree–about 20 years or older–and put them in the refrigerator until they open and release their seeds.
  • Place your seeds in a shallow dish of lukewarm water and let them soak for a full 24 hours. Use just enough water to cover the seeds.

There are a couple of methods you can use to germinate your seeds after their soak.

Option 1: Use Zipper Storage Bags With Your Coast Redwood Seeds

Place the soaked seeds in a zipper plastic storage bag and place it in the fridge for approximately 3 weeks. Keep checking the seeds, and when the roots start to show, it’s time to plant them.

After this step, you can continue with Option Two.

Option 2: Stick Them In The Dirt

  • Prepare a seedling container with your favorite fertilized bonsai soil or sterile soil-less potting mix that has a high mineral content.
  • Place the seeds just under the surface of the soil or potting mix.
  • Mist the seeds until the seedling container’s cell is moist. Throughout the seed’s development, you want to keep the soil moist. It can’t be too wet, though, or the developing roots will rot.
  • The soil temperature needs to reach a minimum of 50℉ for the seeds to grow. Seedling heating mats and fluorescent lighting can help you maintain perfect growing conditions.
    • For the first six months, fluorescent lights should be kept on for 12 hours a day about 2 feet away from the seedling container. Used with a seedling heating mat will keep temperatures consistent and at a level Coastal Redwoods love.

Caring For Your Redwood Bonsai

Coastal Redwoods do not make good indoor bonsai. They like the outdoors, with direct morning sun and indirect afternoon sun, and rich soil with excellent drainage. They don’t like extreme weather, but they do handle winter months rather well. One thing to watch out for is dehydration. They dehydrate quickly, so monitoring soil moisture is important, even in winter.

These trees like high nitrogen fertilizers, but they should be avoided in summer months; nitrogen fertilizers can quickly dehydrate a tree in the summer heat.

Trees of this species are most successful in the formal and informal upright styles, and in the forest style. Root-over-rock, literati, multi-trunk, and wind-swept style are more difficult, but can be done. With the other styles, it will be difficult to keep your bonsai healthy and growing.


Pruning these fast-growers will keep your tree small–no need for stunted trees or malnourishment. These trees bud along their trunks, and buds will usually return a week after plucking. Do not pluck all of the new buds–keep a few around to grow and develop if you want to keep your bonsai healthy. Try to avoid asymmetric growth to keep an even appearance.

Pruning and pinching can be done any time of year, however early spring is usually best. Removing 1/3 of new growth is typically recommended. Because these trees are such fast growers, they will need a lot of attention. But this also means it is difficult to make major mistakes. Once a year, usually in spring, you will need to prune the roots using root cutters. You want to encourage the roots to grow horizontally rather than vertically.

Warning: Avoid removing more than a third of the root system, and avoid pruning the root ball.


Coastal Redwood bonsai are wired in early spring, typically with 2 mm wire around the trunk. If the wire starts to cut into the tree, apply matting underneath the wire. These trees are relatively easy to manage in the upright style, making it a great way for new bonsai growers to hone their skills.



  • Coastal Redwoods have a couple of names: Coastal R., California R., and Coast R. Its scientific name is Sequoia Sempervirens.
  • A Redwood bonsai likes well-irrigated, moist soil and stable temperatures.
  • These trees are great for Bonsai beginners: they are resistant to most tree fungi and diseases, grow quickly, and can live for hundreds of years as a bonsai.
  • On average, 5% of seeds germinate. To manage this low rate, plant 15-30 seeds.
  • Coastal Redwoods like a high nitrogen fertilizer, but it will dehydrate your tree in the summer.
  • Informal and formal upright styles are best suited for this upward-climbing tree.