metasequoia

(Question)

I planted this beautiful golden tree about five years ago. It was five feet high and now is about 25 feet. It looks very healthy and sturdy. But in the past week the top five feet have bent over and are hanging down I thought it was perhaps too dry so I watered it all night long, but no improvement. Help please

(Answer)

Suzanne,

You must have the Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides“”Gold Rush”, a beautiful cultivar of the species. Unlike the species, which remains green until fall, whereby the foliage then turns yellow and falls for the winter. Yours is golden all season, until the leaves fall. That’s the difference between the Dawn Redwoods and other evergreens, with the exception of the native tamarack (Larix laricina), which also loses its leaves.

Watering is a good thing, but if that were the issue, it would take some time to get up 25  feet. Even so, most bending of tops of trees occurs when storm damage or heavy ice (like what happened in December 2013) are the culprits. Often, evergreens unbend when the sap runs. In your case, if it just did it recently, there might be a more mechanical reason, such as breakage. At 5 feet, I find it difficult to believe the possibility a heavy animal, such as a raccoon climbed and bent or slightly broke the tip. Mind you, new growth bends easily, so it is possible. I don’t know if you can easily check it yourself (as a 25 foot tree, I wouldn’t!), but you might have to call in an arborist. Check here at the International Society of Arboriculture of Ontario:

www.isaontario.com

I could find nothing to indicate a disease or pest that could cause 5 feet of tree tip to bend at this time of the year.

Even so, the Dawn Redwood grow fast in their first five years or so, and reach the height you’ve mentioned. They also like water; this spring has been good for the tree, unless planted in heavy clay. Clay holds water, and waterlogging is an issue for many plants, as their roots drown, due to lack of oxygen. So try the tried and true method: stick a finger about 2 inches into the soil (moving mulch if need be), and if it’s wet, stop watering for a few days, or , if it’s dry, then water.