Q: A few years ago, after visiting Sequoia National Park, I talked my parents into planting some giant sequoia seeds. They germinated but they don’t seem to be growing very fast. Most of them are only three inches tall and very bushy. The park ranger said that giant sequoias would grow in many places around the world. My mother currently keeps the seedlings outside on her porch and she is beginning to wonder if her tender loving care is worth it. Do these trees have any chance of surviving?
A: Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained! Recently I received the latest catalog from Plant Delights Nursery (919-772-4794), whose motto is “Plants With an Attitude!” I was intrigued to see a cold-hardy oleander listed. Since the cold-hardy banana that I ordered from them last year prospered in my yard last winter, I’m willing to take a chance growing a shrub that has no business surviving in Atlanta.
According to the experts, giant sequoia is hardy in Zones 6 – 8. Cleveland is in Zone 7 so you should be able to grow it there. I’d transplant each sequoia seedling into a ten-inch pot and put it in a bright but shady spot outside. As winter approaches, push the pots into the ground in a spot sheltered by the house that doesn’t get too cold in the winter.
If the seedlings survive until next spring, plant them in places that get morning sunshine but afternoon shade in the summertime. Before you plant, mix LOTS of river sand in a deep and wide planting hole – the sequoia hates wet feet. Let me know if it prospers!