The coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, is the tallest tree in the world. It is a majestic tree that grows in magnificent cathedral-like groves. It is so named because it is native to moist, foggy, coastal plain areas along the Pacific coast, now being primarily confined to a narrow coastal belt (to 20 miles inland) extending from southern Oregon south to the San Francisco Bay area. This is a narrow-conical, evergreen conifer that is typically found, sometimes in magnificent pure strands, in high moisture coastal areas that are regularly blanketed with fog rolling in from the Pacific. In this native habitat, it is a magnificent, long-lived tree that is generally considered to be the tallest tree in the world, growing to 350’ with a trunk diameter of 20-25’. Although fast-growing in its native habitat, it still may take 400+ years for a redwood to reach maturity. It can live to 2000 years or more. In cultivation outside of its native habitat, it will grow much smaller, typically to 60-90’ tall. Coast redwood features flat, bright green needles (to 1” long), oblong seed cones to 1.25” long and furrowed, reddish-brown bark on a straight trunk that is flared outward at the base. This is a prized lumber tree for its rot-resistant wood that is straight-grained and knot-free. Many trees have been protected in areas such as Redwood National Park, Muir Woods and a number of California State Parks. Sequoia sempervirens along with its close cousin Sequoiadendron gigantea (giant sequoia) are jointly designated as the State Tree of California.
Where it may be grown, it is best in moist, rich, humusy, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light shade. Grows best in cool, moist, coastal climates with consistently high moisture levels. Tolerant of wet soils. Intolerant of dry soils. Generally intolerant of temperature extremes. Zones 7-9.
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year.
- Soak the seeds in cool water for 24 hours.
- Put the seeds in a ziplock bag and seal it.
- Put the ziplock bag in the refrigerator for 4 weeks.
- Fill a pot or a nursery tray with a mix of potting soil and peat-based seed compost, vermiculite or perlite.
- Sow the seeds on the surface of the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of the growing medium. The seeds may take 1-2 months to germinate.
- Place the container in an area that is in part shade. Water it regularly so that the soil is most but not wet.
- The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.