The Q&A Archives: Sequoia Is Dying?

Question: I have a Sequoia tree that I bought from a magazine a few years ago. It was doing great until I stopped transplanting it. It' in a realy big pot and it's getting really hard to lift. The tree is only about 1 ft. tall but its root structure takes up the whole enormous pot!This pot is bigger then most pots that hold big trees. It's crazy. Do you have any solutions? It's not looking to healthy right now. It's all brown except for the top of it. What should I do?

Answer: Sequoia trees can reach 350' in height, but most grow only 70'-90' feet tall. Due to its potential height, sequoia's have extensive root systems. The fibrous roots you describe are normal for a tree with such a potential. Sounds as though your sequoia became potbound and is suffering both from thirst and from girdling (with so many roots seeking water, you'd probably have to soak it daily to provide enough moisture). Roots that grow around and around the inside of a container will eventually choke one another.

You might be able to save your tree by unpotting and trimming away some of the fibrous roots. Carefully slice about three inches from the sides and bottom of the root mass, then repot with fresh soil. Water thoroughly as often as necessary. If new growth begins to show, you may have saved the tree! If so, begin pruning away the dead stems and branches, and new growth should appear along the trunk of the tree. Hope you can save it!

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