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Giant Redwoods Have Mississippi Cousins
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
California is home to two of the most beautiful trees in the world, the redwood and the giant sequoia. If you have ever seen them, you were probably like me and just stood there in awe.
More than likely you returned to Mississippi wishing you could grow such spectacular trees. You can. Both the redwood and sequoia are in the redwood family.
The bald cypress, one of our most beautiful native trees of the South is in the same family. Don't think of it as a swampy trash tree because it isn't. It is a superior landscape tree that will grow on almost any soil. It commonly reaches 50 to 70 feet high and 20 to 30 feet wide. The bald cypress is this year's Louisiana Select plant of the year.
It can grow beautifully from our Gulf Coast to Syracuse, New York. The foliage is gorgeous, turning from green to a russet or orangish-brown in the fall. The bark is an attractive reddish brown and is especially noteworthy when it reaches a stage of buttressing.
The cypress knees which people see in the swamps and fear will develop in the landscape usually only develop in the presence of water.
Dawn redwood is another tree available at nurseries. It is worth growing just so you can say its botanical name, Metasequoia glyptostroboides. This species was thought to be extinct until it was found in China in the 1940s.
If you are a fan of dinosaur movies, then the dawn redwood is for you as it is one of the oldest living trees on Earth.
Its mature size can reach 70 to 100 feet high and 25 feet wide. It has been known to reach 40 to 50 feet in height after 20 years of good growing conditions. The tree is very pyramidal in shape. Friends tell me that the dawn redwood is fairly quick to form a buttress at the bottom of the tree, which is most attractive in a landscape setting.
Container-grown trees are a good buy right now at almost every nursery or garden center. While fall and early spring are traditionally thought of as tree planting times, container-grown stock allows us to plant around the year.
Correct planting will give your tree or shrub a good start. Dig the hole no deeper than the height of the root ball. The height of the root ball is less than the height of the container because the nursery leaves space at the top of the container to hold water and fertilizer.
Plant the tree so that the top of the root ball is level with or a little higher than the ground. Digging the hole too deep may result in the tree settling too low.
The planting hole should be at least 2 to 3 times wider than the root ball. Measure the diameter of the root ball and multiply that number by 2 or 3. The wider the hole the better.
When you finish planting, use your hands to form a 3-inch-high mound around the edge of the root ball with the remaining backfill. The mound will help make sure all the water goes right into the root ball this summer.