Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Bonsai' / Bonsai dawn redwood

Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Bonsai' is a dwarf selection of dawn redwood with short, bluish green needles and pendant branch tips. It's bark is rich dark brown and spongy, and it's overall structure is quite irregular. No two specimens are quite alike. Typical rate of growth in most areas is up to 4 inches (10 cm) per year resulting in an interesting focal point, 3 feet (1 m) tall and 4 feet (1.3 m) wide after 10 years in the garden.

This cultivar is a seedling selection from Dr. John Kuser at Rutgers University, New Jersey from seed obtained from China in 1992. The seedlings were later sent to Princeton Nurseries, New Jersey to develop further. Dr. Kuser made a gift of the original plant to the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA., where it can now be seen and appreciated by everyone.

It is interesting to note that 'Bonsai' is very similar in appearance to M. glyptostroboides 'Miss Grace.' Although they are both dwarf cultivars, 'Miss Grace' is derived from a witch's broom and 'Bonsai' is a seedling selection.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Bonsai' — the original plant at the Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Photo by Broken Arrow Nursery
Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Bonsai' — a 2008 accession at the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7A); received as a rooted cutting from Colibraro Landscaping and Nursery, PA; photo from 2020.
Photo by Katherine Wagner-Reiss


Michelle Ladd

I got a Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'bonsai' as a gift and am trying to learn to care for it. I have been able to find very little on this variety since a search brings up specific "bonsai" care. I live in central Ohio, Zone 6. It is currently in a pot - should I bring this inside in the winter? Or can I plant it outside? Any guidance would be much appreciated! Thank you in advance.

Edward Williams

We live in zone 6a in CT. We have had our Bonsai since 2006. We have never had any winter problems. It gets filtered sun and some wind protection. It is about 8 ft wide and 6 ft tall. It did lose its leader awhile ago and only recently formed a new one. In general I would say to plant it now and put up a burlap screen for the prevailing winds. I don’t have a cold frame so I have had poor luck overwintering trees in pots. Sometimes we get a warm and dry spell in November and I forget to water the newly planted trees and they die over the winter. If the tree is pot bound and you really have to work on the roots then maybe you should put it in a bigger pot and keep it in a cold area and nurse it along.