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Why can't I grow a Dawn Redwood?

14 years ago

Hello to all.

I haven't posted in a while but I lurk here all the time. There's always something interesting to read and some great advice. I hope someone can help me with my problem.

After reading about these trees some ten years ago I finally had the chance to see some growing at the botanical garden in ST. Louis and it was love at first site. So after scouring the nooks and crannies of every garden center I found one and immediately planted it in my yard. It was only about 4' when it was planted but jumped a couple of feet the first year. I knew it was destined for greatness.

Gradually over the next several years it went into decline. Each year progressively less foliage. People were asking me "what's that?" with a painful look on their face.

I tried giving it more water, it would struggle to produce maybe 2 more needles. I tried giving it less, it dropped needles. I fed it, it did nothing.

I decided it was one of two things, girdled roots or too much wind. I had planted 5 loblolly pines from small containers years before and when one died I dug it up to see one root had encased several others to make a gnarled mess so I figured that was a possibility with the redwood as well. Since I had given the redwood the prime location in my yard to protect it from the wind there was nothing left to try.

By this time it looked like a 9' stick with hairy arms. So after much deliberation, I had mercy on it and cut it down. I proceeded to dig up the roots to find the culprit that had choked my dream to death, but no, the roots looked great.... I had murdered it.

I promised I wouldn't subject a living thing to that kind of torture again.

However, now spring is just around the corner and I'm seeing all these pictures of beautiful specimens and new varieties and I don't know if I can stop myself?

Should I try again or save the space for something else? If I did try again, what should I do differently?

I have never had to admit defeat to a tree before and I've been planting them for 30 years but I'm not getting any younger and I still have no definitive answer to what went wrong. What would YOU DO?

Thanks in advance.

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