Is it possible to grow a Coastal Redwood in New York City?

meli1020April 15, 2014

Hello everyone, I am doing research for a book and wondering if it is possible for a Coastal Redwood to grow and survive for many years in New York City, specifically Brooklyn.

Is it totally impossible?

Thanks!

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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

IF you could pull it off, you might have success with one of the more cold-hardy cultivars - 'Soquel', 'Swarthmore Hardy', or 'Atlanta'.

The urban heat island just might make enough difference, especially if you're nearer to the water.

It would be a bit of a gamble, however.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:21PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

call some of the local botanical gardens or arboretums.. and ask of their experience

ken

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:38AM
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Campanula UK Z8

They struggle without that continual damp atmospheric fog bathing the upper branches - more than feeling the chill. Try Sequoia giganteum or the Dawn redwood, metasequoia glyptostroboides.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:48AM
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Campanula UK Z8

They struggle without that continual damp atmospheric fog bathing the upper branches - more than feeling the chill. Try Sequoia giganteum or the Dawn redwood, metasequoia glyptostroboides.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:49AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

You can certainly grow a Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood). I have one in my zone 5 garden and they're pretty common here. As for a Sequoiadendron (Giant Sequoia) I saw one at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. It wasn't huge, as you would see on the West Coast, but it was growing just fine.

Steve

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 6:57AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Posted by campanula UK Cambridge (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 6:48

They struggle without that continual damp atmospheric fog bathing the upper branches - more than feeling the chill. Try Sequoia giganteum or the Dawn redwood, metasequoia glyptostroboides.

Posted by campanula UK Cambridge (My Page) on
Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 6:49

They struggle without that continual damp atmospheric fog bathing the upper branches - more than feeling the chill. Try Sequoia giganteum or the Dawn redwood, metasequoia glyptostroboides.

If you repeat a lie often enough campanula, does it make it true?

I'm sick of the combination of 1)people who don't know how to use forums and 2) don't know what they are talking about. I mean seriously, is this just a strange form of trolling?

If someone had just searched this site for Sequoia, they would have seen various threads regarding this question. However, in this case that wasn't even necessary!!! There was already a freakin' thread about the very same issue, on the main page!

I quote from myself, correcting a similarly misinformed person almost _2_ years ago:

remember they absorb MOST oif [sic] their water through their "leaves" and bark - not their roots

This isn't true at all. As others have noted, they grow with ground irrigation in the very dry central valley of California. In fact, the biophysical reason they can't grow much higher than about 400 feet is that the suction required to get water that high is tremendous. It's true they get some water through their needles, but not all. The areas they occur naturally have generous winter rain in addition to the summer fog. (which may be absent for months at a time near the southern end of their range during coastal California's delayed warm season in Sept. & Oct.)

BTW in addition to the east coast specimens I've mentioned earlier, the curator of the Barnes Foundation told me they've had a tree since 1971, which means it would have withstood the very cold winters of the late 70s and mid 80s. He didn't mention the size of it, however, and with that garden closed until further notice I'm not able to go check it out.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 12:01PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

"Is it totally impossible?"

No, it's not totally impossible; but Occam's Razor would dictate that if it were easy, you'd see a lot of coast redwoods (Sequoias! Always a good idea to know a scientific name if you're writing a paper or book!) in NYC.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cf: http://search.gardenweb.com/search/nph-ind.cgi?term=sequoia+%22east+coast%22&forum=conif&forum_name=Conifers

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 12:07

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 12:03PM
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gardengal48

Wow!! That was more than a little snarky....I thought conifer geeks were a little less intolerant, a little more mellow than that.

Ideally, a year round moist environment would be best to their liking but sufficient rainfall and or supplemental irrigation should suffice. There is a planting of coast redwoods in East Hampton, Long Island that have been growing there for at least 20 years so it can be done. Also an attached link of various plantings of Sequoia sempervirens in the NY/NJ/PA area.

Here is a link that might be useful: east coast coast redwoods

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 2:17PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Those are Sequoiadendron, gardengal. Which are rather common in public gardens north of the Mason-Dixon and south of zn 5a. The naming situation is pretty hopeless, since the scientific name of the coastal species is a nickname for the interior Sequoiadendron. Of all species out there, these would be candidates for just sticking to scientific names.

As already discussed multiple times:
1) northern most mature (albeit not old or large especially as that species goes) S. sempervirens is at the Barnes outside Philly; btw IIRC there's a younger one at roughly the same latitude somewhere in NJ. But nobody has noted one in the immediate NYC area. How would one at a place like Planting Fields/Wave Hill be kept a secret? Ergo, we can generally say the Philly one is the northernmost on the east coast.
2) that being said they are not easy to establish that far north, I have cited a primary source from the 1940s noting that of 6 plants tried in the Philly area from a collection in California in the 1910s, only one was still alive. This cannot be the Barnes tree and since it was at one of the major arboreta/gardens, it's reasonable to assume it too either died off or was removed for some reason. Most likely weather related, but don't discount the whims of garden directors. Longwood, I suspect, would have cut down a tree merely if it had been injured. They don't like things to look untidy - it's like horticultural Disney World. I'll try to find that book again- I think the one alive in the 1940s might have been at the Tyler Arboretum.
3) the immediate NYC area is not appreciably colder than Philly, so if you had a very hardy clone it should last at least as long as the ones in Philly did, or have,
4) old plants are known as far south as central SC, so summer heat is definitely not a problem for us. They don't last in Orlando, Florida, but neither would I. ;-)
5) they need a lot of water during at least some of the year, but the constant fog requirement is a complete myth. My young trees were VERY resilient during the droughts of 2010, 2011, 2012; in fact post-establishment, i.e., first year, I've never had to water one. I'm sure even under mulch the soil was getting quite dry.

Maybe I was a little harsh...but...your point is my point exactly, this *is* generally a mellow forum. I participate in various other forums. For example if you ask a question like that (i.e., a fairly common one; "will redwoods grow on the east coast" gets asked at least once a year here) in many of them, you will get far more chewed out for not searching for a previous thread or using an FAQ. It would be like going into a Raspberry Pi programming forum and posting a question "where can I buy one of these Raspberry Pi's?" Part of the problem is how antiquated this forum is...it doesn't encourage newbies to use it correctly. I decided for once I wasn't going to be mellow.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 15:28

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 3:20PM
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gardengal48

Sorry, I did not inspect the link closely after it addressed the 3 different types of "redwoods" growing the in the tri-state area. But the reference to the East Hampton plantings at Longhouse Reserve was definitely for S. sempervirens. Never having been there personally, I can't confirm the trees are still in existence nor how much a moderating effect a more coastal location would have on winter temperatures. I'm gonna guess not all that much :-))

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 4:00PM
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meli1020

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful responses and links. I did see the other threads but I wanted to be very specific about New York City. Perhaps this isn't the best forum for a more hypothetical question like this (especially since I'm at the early stages of my research.)

Fortunately I am doing this research for a work of fiction : )

I appreciate your expertise and your thoughts. I am learning a lot here.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 4:52PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Meli,
thanks for being cool about it. New Yorkers are thick skinned!

Gardengal - "But the reference to the East Hampton plantings at Longhouse Reserve was definitely for S. sempervirens"? Where ever that was in the link you provided, I did miss that one. In any case nice to know there is one on Long Island, makes perfect sense as it is overall one of the better gardening climates on the east coast IMHO. I would be very surprised if S. sempervirens weren't tried at a few of the "Gold Coast" estates. Planting Fields has a huge Abies grandis, and most surprisingly a purported Cornus nuttallii. Quite possible that the cold winters of '34 & '62 damaged or killed them, as presumably happened with the Teddy Roosevelt era trees in Philadelphia.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 8:13PM
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hostagreencare

This is a prime example why this fourm is slow. Davidrt28 you owe Meli1020 and Campanula both an apology. Anyone should be able to ask a question on this fourm without being made to feel stupid or inadiquite. We are not all computer geeks and know everything about fourms. This is why i dont post very much anymore. Meli1020 , Campanula i apologise for Davidrt28 we on this fourm are not all as rude as this.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:17PM
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pineresin

If I may delve in here a bit ;-)

I'd agree Davidrt is a bit harsh on Campanula. Both Campanula and Davidrt make valid points; while coastal humidity (/ fog) is not necessary for Coast Redwood in summer heat (it will tolerate hot dry conditions as David says), it IS important in colder areas in winter, as cold dry weather is very damaging to Coast Redwood. And this will be a very important factor in NY with northwest winds off the cold, dry continental interior in winter. Any chance of growing it would be best done by selecting a site with good protection from the northwest.

Should also point out that in a global context, the "northern most mature (albeit not old or large especially as that species goes) S. sempervirens is at the Barnes outside Philly" is very far from the northernmost; here's one at 55° 38' N in northeast England (same latitude as northern Labrador!); it's 45 metres tall, too, vastly larger than the Philly tree ;-) but it shows the importance of humid coastal air for successful growth at higher latitudes.

Resin

This post was edited by pineresin on Thu, Apr 17, 14 at 17:13

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 5:02PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Resin,
thanks for that awesome picture.
Of course when I said northern most, I meant "northern most in the world's most capriciously continental climate" - which is a good description of the eastern 2/3 of the US.
As for " as cold dry weather is very damaging to Coast Redwood" well, that's all quite a relative matter. Although my climate is somewhat moderated (by US midatlantic standards - and no that doesn't mean at the bottom of the ocean ;) ) because I'm near the upper Ches. Bay, the fact that I'm also on a hillside *almost* overlooking this expansive area of 0 feet elevation means that a local pressure gradient seems to set up in winter and cause constant winds. I can drive only a mile or two from my house, and this wind will be absent. While my old gardens in western Fairfax could grow Escallonia 'Apple Blossom' most years with minimal damage (and indeed there used to be very fine large plants at the Green Springs Garden Park in Fairfax) here, even though the seasonal lows have almost be 5F/2.8C higher, the plant dessicates most winters and loses between half to all of its leaves. It has always managed to return, but I'm not sure about this year.
Point is I'm in a place with constant dry winds all winter - the redwoods have never shown substantive injury since this year! So, they could be more sensitive than some other conifers...obviously...but they are not extremely sensitive as are some broadleaved evergreens.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 9:17AM
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hostagreencare

Wheres the apology? Don't you think you owe them one?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 9:23AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

I'm so sorry if anyone experienced chills, had indigestion, or lost a night's sleep because they encountered a somewhat brusque person on the internet. Something that has never happened before in the billions of threads of online conversation since 1989. (first public access to the DARPA invention)

“It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.”
― P.G. Wodehouse

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 9:42AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Recommendation -- get thicker skins. Go to some of the many contentious blogs & davidrt would be considered amiable.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 9:56AM
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hostagreencare

Really!!! what a sad world we live in.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 10:11AM
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beng(z6 western MD)

Here's a quick example. Go to the below site, which has an interesting topic, and browse the replies (David Springer is good at it). And this is tame/moderated.

Some people enjoy trading insults -- it's an art.

Here is a link that might be useful: Forest climate and condensation

This post was edited by beng on Fri, Apr 18, 14 at 10:38

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 10:33AM
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mikebotann(8a SE of Seattle)

In a forum where that's common, I guess it's OK. This forum is not like that, or at least, hasn't been. I'd hate to see this forum lower itself to those levels.
Mike

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:38AM
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hostagreencare

Thank you!! Mikebottan happy Easter.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 11:49AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Resin,

I was sure I saw a Giant Sequoia at the Arnold Arboretum, so I checked the collection. Below is the listing. Last time I checked Boston was further north than both New York and Philly. I would think the winters in Boston would be similar to those in New York, although NY should be a bit warmer.

1
Sequoiadendron giganteum
Status: accepted name

Reference(s): Rehder, A. 1940. Manual of Cultivated Trees and Shrubs Hardy in North America (ed. 2). New York, NY: Macmillan Co. 996 pp.
Arnold Arboretum, C.S. no date. Label Information Book. Jamaica Plain, MA: Arnold Arboretum. (unpublished).

Family: Taxodiaceae

Common name(s): Giant Sequoia

Steve

Here is a link that might be useful: Arnold Arboretum Collection

This post was edited by steve_mass on Fri, Apr 18, 14 at 12:11

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 12:08PM
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fairfield8619(Zone 8 NW LA)

Comparatively mild, really very mild, compared to the resident crank and the egomanical Dutchboy. hostagreencare, you have never posted more than 5 posts total on GW so missing your post won't be missed. "feel stupid or inadiquite"? See the above mentioned posters, that's why this forum is dead even in spring.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 12:37PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

I'm sure I saw a Sequoiadendron giganteum at the North Pole.
Last I checked, the North Pole was further north than both Boston and New York.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 4:15PM
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liopleurodon(Z8)

I hate to see quarrels on this forum.
There sadly aren't that many conifer freaks so please all be just nice to each other! :)

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 4:15AM
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gardengal48

There is a big difference in adaptability of a giant redwood (Sequoiadendron) versus a coastal redwood (Sequoia). Sequoiadendrons have been grown in MI, which would likely be an intolerable environment for a coast redwood.

FWIW, both grow here in the Puget Sound area with ease :-) And we are a lot further north than either Boston or New York (but not the North Pole!). It is not the latitude that is the determining factor but moderating climate conditions. The UK and the PNW have them but not so much the east coast.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 1:44PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Thanks for getting the joke, gardengal. It was a pleasure to demonstrate that I can troll my own response better than anyone else can.

Of course Sequoiadendron is much hardier. But the problem is it is also much more suspectible to disease caused by our muggy summer conditions. If you were to blend the Mason-Dixon line with the new USDA zn 6/zn 7 line, you would get an approximation of the east coast boundary between areas where Sequoia (coastal redwood) and Sequoiadendron could be grown on the east coast. Sequoia south of it, obviously, and Sequoiadendron north of it. Even north of the Mason-Dixon line, the several Sequoiadendron at zn 7 Planting Fields arboretum looked pretty bad. OTOH I'm pretty sure I saw one at a garden in Carlisle, PA, zn 6, that looked reasonably well. Nights there are probably a wee bit cooler, and I suspect you could grow them all the way down to Georgia on the highest mountain tops that stay in the 50s at night. Go too far north though, even zn 7 is still going to be too cold for Sequoias. One supposes that the Polly Hill arboretum, for example, has tried them and they aren't on the plant list for a reason. (still meaning to email them about strange tales of a monkey puzzle that dies back in some years yet persists)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:13PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

It's too bad we can't somehow find a Sequoiadendron that is resistant to that fungus (name forgotten at the moment) that plagues them in the East.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 11:51PM
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sam_md

even mature giant sequoias such as the ones at the eye of water at Longwood Gardens are disappearing due to Cercospora sequoiae.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 8:00PM
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