How to Grow Dawn Redwood – Metasequoia

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Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia, is a pyramidal tree with small cones and soft, pale green needles that turn light bronze in autumn. The needles drop in winter to reveal an attractive silhouette.

Young dawn redwoods have reddish bark; older trees have darker fissured bark and buttressed and fluted trunks. Branches grow upright.

Dawn redwoods grow to 90 feet tall and about 20 feet wide in about 40 years. Young trees can grow 4 to 6 feet a year.

Metasequoia trees

Get to know Dawn Redwood

  • Plant type: Deciduous conifer
  • Growing Zones and range: 5-10
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 5
  • Height and spread: To 100 feet (30m) tall and 25 feet (7.5m) wide; upright pyramidal form
  • Foliage: Opposite, soft, green needle-like leaves turn coppery brown in fall
  • Flowers: Inconspicuous yellow male and greenish female flowers; followed by a rounded green cone that ripens to brown
  • Bloom time: Spring
  • Uses: Best for a large property; most effective when planted in groups
  • Botanical name: Metasequoia glyptostroboides
  • Common name: Dawn redwood, water fir
  • Origin: China

Where to plant Dawn Redwood

  • Plant dawn redwood in full sun in a sheltered position.
  • Grow dawn redwood in deep, moist, well-drained soil. Dry or alkaline soil will slow growth.

When to plant Dawn Redwood

  • Transplant balled-and-burlapped or container-grown plants in spring.

Planting and spacing Dawn Redwood

  • Space dawn redwoods 20 to 30 feet apart
Dawn redwood autumn foliage
Metasequoia glyptostroboides, also known as dawn redwood, autumn foliage

How to water and feed Dawn Redwood

  • Keep the soil evenly moist
  • Fertilize dawn redwood by spreading aged compost to the dripline at least once a year

Dawn Redwood care

  • Dawn redwood requires no pruning.

Dawn Redwood common problems

  • Dawn redwood can be injured by early fall frosts; plant on a slope to avoid settling cold air.
  • Dawn redwood has no serious pest or disease problems.

Dawn Redwood propagation

  • Sow seed in fall or early spring.
  • Take cuttings in late summer.

Dawn Redwood varieties to grow

  • ‘National’ is a narrow pyramidal form.
  • ‘Sheridan Spire’ is a narrow pyramid with more compact growth.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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