I just came across this forum and registered an account to ask you guys for some tips. I acquired two redwood tree seedlings a few years back and they've been doing surprisingly well both indoors and outdoors here in Stockholm, Sweden.
However, I just noticed that one of the seedlings seem to be in distress and increasingly so. The needles are drying from top to bottom and I've already been forced to remove the original stem from the seedling, which dried out very quickly. We're in the middle of january and it's very dry and cold here and of course not a lot of sun. The other seedling seem to be fine, for now atleast.
Please have a look at the pictures and tell me what you think. I apologize for the quality of the images, I've never been much of a photographer.
If it is a redwood (I'm not expert on them either), it needs a humid atmosphere to thrive, and the region where they are native does not get nearly as cold as Sweden. I would not keep it tightly cocooned, but allow some airflow so you don't get mold. Light might also be a factor; Sweden in winter gets a lot less sun than any part of California or Oregon.
No expert either. These trees did they come from USA? Did they have earth around the roots?
I ask this because coming from the wild will have the roots infected with mycorrhizal fungi, which is a good thing for the uptake of nutrients.
The fungi attach to the roots and help the plant get nutrients the roots can't get in exchange for extrudates, sugars the plant photosynthesizes.
If the plant had only new european compost around the rootsystem it can get all the nutrients it needs for growth easily at first, the plant doesn't form these exchange programs with fungi, because it doesn't feel it needs to, but after a while the ground is nearly depleted it finds it should have. Since yours are inside most of the time chances of spores finding these roots are slim, I've seen big Sequoia's in gardens in France, so beneficial fungi must be around maybe Stockholm has a botanical garden with one in it?
I've read that Abies Alba can have as much at a hundred different kinds of mycorrhyzal funghi, that could be another chance.
You could look for such a tree take some soil from under there, doesn't have to be much, one garden spade full contains lots and lots of beneficial fungi. Mix it in water and give that water to the plant.Or ideally another Sequoia.
I'm far from an expert, but for trees fungi are more important than bacteria.
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Redwoods in CA are in the fog belt and one of the ways they get water is by their leaves condensing fog and dripping it down to the ground. There may be some function of that water on the leaf as well, so it might help to mist the leaves daily.
Redwoods need a particular assemblage of fungal associates to survive because they do not have root hairs. As mentioned above, they also thrive in a temperate, humid climate. In the summer they get over half their water from fog. In their native region, they grow just as well in the winter they grow as in the summer, being adapted with their conical shape to absorb lower light angles. However, they cannot survive soil temperatures below 18F/-8C. Any of these could be causing your tree problems, and without climate change even more dramatic than anyone anticipates, your tree will probably not see a second, let alone third millenium. As a ranger in the Redwoods where the park sold little trees, the closest analogue I have heard of was from people in Michigan with a redwood living in a well protected place to about 40-50 and then dying in a cold snap. I would bet its relative the giant sequoia would have a better shot in such places.
This is all just my opinion based on a flawed memory
I grow dawn redwoods here. They don't need as much humidity and they stand the cold well. They don't get as big as our coastal redwoods, but they are beautiful interesting trees and I'm not fighting mother nature to get them to survive.
The tree is coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and it may grow fine in Sweden in locations that aren't too cold (USDA zone 7) since there are a number of them growing in Scotland and Germany. The site monumentaltrees.com lists where specimens are growing worldwide. They grow best in locations with lots of rain and a high humidity.
So much useful information, thanks alot for the replies, I appreciate it.
The seedlings I have are from Redwood National Park. I don't know how old the seedlings were when I got them, but I remember them being about 7-8 inches tall at the time. So they have spent a fair bit of time in their natural habitat and been exposed to their native soil. However, they've been in ordinary gardening soil ever since they migrated to Scandinavia. I will do some detective work in the morning and phone up botanical gardens in and around Stockholm, like you said.
I find it somewhat mind-boggling that only one of the two trees is showing signs of distress. The other one seem perfectly healthy with its bright green needles intact, no drying or discolouration - yet. Could it be pests or disease?
Since yesterday I've started to moisten the needles and covering the trees with plastic bags for a few hours, as suggested. I've thought of repotting the distressed tree, in case it has outgrown its rather small container. But I also fear I might fall into the trap of loving them to death by doing too much, as I imagine amateurs like myself often do.
Coast redwoods are extremely insect and fungus resistant, hence the old growth wood's longevity (I know of an 80yr old bridge that is still sound, trunks can live 2250yrs). They have only 28 insects and 4 mites that can digest their wood, compared to over 300 species that can consume oak (can't remember which quercus it was compared to). However, the tannins which provide this protection increase in concentration exponentially until the tree is relatively mature at 300yrs.
In nature, the vast majority of seedlings never make the canopy, as they are consumed by elk or are out competed by reiterations (suckers) from established old trees' root systems. Reiterations of preexisting trees represent 98% of the trunks in an old growth redwood forest. A tree gets really established after 300yrs or so in old growth, and this is often the tallest the tree gets before breaking off when it reaches above the canopy, stimulating branching and thickening. That genetic individual redwood tree could live indefinitely (its latin name sempervirens = everliving tree). However, if the mythical Greek Titans teach us anything in how they were destroyed by their offspring, immortal beings need to be very judicious in their reproduction. So redwood seedlings generally only find the conditions to survive where a large tree has fallen. They either root on soil on a nurse log or on fallen giant's root ball reveals bare mineral soil so the deep forest duff cannot keep the seedling from reaching water and nutrients, and simultaneously it needs an almost miraculous fungal inoculation of that soil within a few weeks. The fungi necessary is also associated with red alder and doug fir, which are the primary and secondary succession species in establishing old growth redwood ecosystems, and you may be able to find a plantation of that more easily than it would be to find redwood duff. I remember seeing NW species being grown in Norwegian plantations (near Arendal). I also remember seeing sitka spruce, and would bet it also has some beneficial crossover fungus in its soil as a common companion to redwoods, but wonder if this has been transported in order to grow those trees healthily. I'd try making a compost tea from some of these common companion trees if possible, but I would not do any strong fertilization. Potting up proactively to avoid root bind is also important according to a friend in the park's restoration dept. They need a good amount of water, but also cannot tolerate wet feet for more than 24-36hrs. They really like a daily misting, as in large enough old growth stands they produce visible fog any time it gets hot (i.e. above 68F). This saves them the trouble of transporting that water (upto 500gal/day, equaling 4000lbs) up 300+ft. How's that for too much information!?
This is all just my opinion based on a flawed memory
I don't think the mychorrhozal fungi situation is all that species sensitive. There are several large coast redwoods growing in Abbeville, South Carolina that were planted before the Civil War that are the largest and tallest trees in town (height limited by lightning). They would have arrived as seed. Our only native conifers are two species of pine and one juniper. There is one species of alder, but it is a small, shrubby plant growing along creeks and unlikely to be found growing up on the ridge where the town is located.
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