aniag
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Boulevard False Cypress--will it die? please help!

I just purchased a conifer bonsai on an impulse, and I'm realising that it might not survive. My daughter is in tears...

I read a bit here...We did the scratch test--it is greenish.

It seems that if should be kept at 10C for the winter months...which doesn't seem like an impossibility, as we are in Canada, and it is -10C now and could be colder too.

Is there anything that can be done? To prolong its life, at least?

Also, the rocks are glued, and how to remove them? Would it be better to replant? If so, how, what soild etc?

Here are a couple of photos.

[img]https://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee312/aniabania18/december011.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee312/aniabania18/december013.jpg[/img]

Thank you so much for any help!

cynthia_h
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Please read further here at The Helpful Gardener. There are large articles/posts in Bonsai Identification and Bonsai Learning Library (both of them sections of overall Bonsai) which will help you identify your bonsai and understand the care it needs.

I don't have any bonsai but happened to see your post, and know that the "how to" articles are available at all times of day and night.

Best wishes.

Cynthia

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Gnome
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aniag,

Remove the rocks with a flat bladed screwdriver or any other implement that works for you. They must come off in order to be able to evaluate and properly water the soil. They were a shipping aid and no longer serve any purpose. You will probably need to back fill the pot with some additional soil, use something similar to what you find. This soil will almost certainly be poor but I would not re-pot now.

Unfortunately I am not sure what species your tree is. My first thought was Juniper but after looking I am uncertain. Hopefully someone else has an idea. My feeling is that you are correct about it ordinarily needing a dormant period but until a positive ID is arrived at it would be unwise to do anything. Is there any possibility of contacting the vendor?

Even if it is a temperate species I would hesitate to move it outside abruptly. If you are able to get any information it would be helpful to know not only the species but also how it has been handled recently.

If you wish to grow inside the first thing will be to determine which species you would like to grow, not all are appropriate. In bonsai, as in most things, it is better to do a little research first.

Norm

aniag
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Thank you, Gnome!

Unfortunately we bought it in a supermarket--the plant that my daughter wanted wasn't there, and she fell in love with this one. I should've known better, but it looked so healthy.

Here are close ups:

[img]https://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee312/aniabania18/december011-1.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee312/aniabania18/december014.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee312/aniabania18/bonsai2.jpg[/img]

It seems to be similar to this: https://freshome.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/bonsai.jpg But I can't be quite sure. Most Juniper bonsai that I look at, are much more mature and seem very different to me.

For now we left it in a spare bedroom with the window open...brrrrrrr...

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djlen
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I agree with Gnome as to the species. It does appear to be a Juniper.
If the stones on top are glued down, they must be removed as they will hinder the aeration and circulation of water to the tree.
Gnome's suggestions are all good ones and should be followed.
Does the pot have a hole in the bottom?
Where do you live? How cold is it in your area currently?
This tree is meant to grow outdoors and will not flourish inside.
Please reply with answers to the above so that we can be of further assistance.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
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aniag
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Thank you!

There IS a hole in the bottom.

I live in Canada, Nova Scotia. It is -10C right now. (14F)

Can the tree survive indoors until next winter?
What can we do to optimize its existence?

Next winter we could prepare it properly and build a cold box / cold frame.

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Gnome
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Len,

Do the needles on this look a little long and loose/fluffy to you? Perhaps it is my lack of familiarity with the different Juniper species but something about this one looks unusual to me.

Norm

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djlen
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Norm I'm not sure. Something keeps nagging at me, telling me that it may be in the cypress family just as easily as in the Juniper family.
I've worked with this tree at some point but can't put my finger on it. If I remember correctly the needles out toward the terminal ends are soft and fluffy.
I'm judging it to be a conifer in any event and am trying to advise based on that assumption. Hoping that she can get this tree through the winter, have a nice growing season next year and then let it harden off properly next fall.

anaig -

My opinion is that it is an evergreen and will not make it through a winter inside your house. It should have had a period of gradual temp. change in the fall so that it could, what we call "harden off" which just means become gradually used to cooler and then colder days and nights.
Since it will not live through the winter inside you've got to supply a sheltered environment for it to over-winter. An unheated building such as a shed or garage with a window that you can put it in front of would be a better option than trying to keep it alive inside the house.
If you can supply that either at your house or someone else's it will need very little care other than a bit of water......just enough to keep the soil from drying out. When they go dormant their needs are very moderate.
Dormancy is very normal for your tree. We have to find a way to let it go to sleep and rest until spring.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
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aniag
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Thank you, Len.

My worry is that we don't know what was the tree's experience in the nursery / store up until now. What will happen if it was prepared for winter, but then already woke up? Is it okay to be putting it back into the dormant stage?

Right now the tree is half way through its dormant period (November to Februrary). Is there a way to trick it into thinking it is already spring, and then the fall will come a bit earlier too, as we are in a cold climate.

I'm just trying to figure out what is riskier, and what gives it a better chance for survival.

For us to have it in a cool temperature this year will mean to give it to someone else, and such a person might not be able to check the soil etc.

For the next winter we will be able to build something for the tree.

I keep reading at various how to care for a conifer bonsai sites that it won't survive inside for a prolonged periods of time. Does this mean that the first cylce with shortened dormancy period is lethal?

Thank you again for all the support here.

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Gnome
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Len,

Thanks, my gut feeling is the same as yours. Exact species aside, dormancy is called for. Glad to have another perspective. 8)

Norm

aniag
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Could you guys comment on this quote I found: "Indoor bonsai are trees cultivated and intended for indoor display only. If temperate climate specimens are used and kept exclusively indoors, the will eventually weaken and die. They require some outdoor time and a dormant winter period that doesn’t completely freeze. Sometimes, people will keep indigenous species of deciduous bonsai trees in their refrigerator for a few months to ‘winter’ them. This dormant period helps the tree and yet, will not cause it to freeze solid either."

Questions:

1. When they say "eventually", does it mean months? Years?

2. What about the refrigerator solution? Is this feasible? What about light?

Thank you!

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aniag,

I largely agree with the quote you cited.
If temperate climate specimens are used and kept exclusively indoors, the will eventually weaken and die.
1. When they say "eventually", does it mean months? Years?
That's not the sort of thing that is easily quantified. If you kept, say a Maple, inside it might do well the first year provided you were able to meet it's basic requirements. But if you force it to remain 'green' during the winter it would likely fail sometime the following year.

Junipers that are sold this time of year face different problems. These young plants are re-potted inappropriately, shipped, mishandled by retailers, and sold to people who may not have any idea how to handle them. By the time they are in the hands of the recipient they have endured so much abuse that often it is too late. It is no wonder that that these 'Christmas Junipers' are almost doomed from the start.
Sometimes, people will keep indigenous species of deciduous bonsai trees in their refrigerator for a few months to ‘winter’ them.
2. What about the refrigerator solution? Is this feasible? What about light?
Although I have never tried this I have read of others who have. I think the key word here is deciduous meaning that they have no leaves while dormant. No leaves, no need for light. I don't think I would attempt to keep an evergreen under those conditions.

And lastly:
"Indoor bonsai are trees cultivated and intended for indoor display only..."
I think this could use a little clarification. While it may be true that " 'indoor bonsai' are cultivated and intended for indoor display" that does not necessarily mean that they must be kept indoors. These same species can be kept as outdoor trees provided your climate allows it. I keep everything I grow outside during the summer, moving tender species inside only as winter approaches.

I may take some heat for this but there really are no 'indoor trees' merely species that can adapt to a life indoors. Some species are inappropriate to keep indoors, some will do OK but not really thrive, others can do surprisingly well if managed correctly. This almost always means supplemental lighting and perhaps even a humidifier.

If you intend to pursue indoor bonsai you need to look to tropical or sub-tropical species.

Norm

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djlen
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aniag wrote:Could you guys comment on this quote I found: "Indoor bonsai are trees cultivated and intended for indoor display only. If temperate climate specimens are used and kept exclusively indoors, the will eventually weaken and die. They require some outdoor time and a dormant winter period that doesn’t completely freeze. Sometimes, people will keep indigenous species of deciduous bonsai trees in their refrigerator for a few months to ‘winter’ them. This dormant period helps the tree and yet, will not cause it to freeze solid either."

Questions:

1. When they say "eventually", does it mean months? Years?

2. What about the refrigerator solution? Is this feasible? What about light?

Thank you!
Yes, there are some trees that can SURVIVE indoors if very specific and rigorous conditions are met. Light and moisture are the two biggest factors. I know of a few deciduous trees that meet this criteria.
There is an ongoing argument over certain species of Elm tree and their ability over time to live being kept in an indoor environment.
If there are evergreens that fit that category their names escape me a this time.
I believe the answer to your question about the term "eventually" is that without rest temperate trees will wear themselves out within the space of a couple/few years time. I would not attempt to keep your tree inside and expect good results. Is it possible with compact fluorescent lighting and high humidity, yes. The odds are so much improved if you give it it's needed rest that I could not in good conscience recommend that.
I have kept deciduous trees in refrigerators for 2 - 3 months time because after shedding leaves they have zero light requirements. Maples kept in Florida will not go dormant without this or similar treatment.
Your tree will need a modicum of light even in dormancy. The refrigerator is not an option in your case.

**Your Quote**:
"Right now the tree is half way through its dormant period (November to Februrary)."**

The tree has no time dormant. Yes, this is it's time but I would bet the ranch that it came from a grower, was mass produced into a Bonsai pot, shipped to a distributor who then shipped it to your local mall to be sold to you and other fine but unsuspecting people without any dormant period.

As much as you'd like to, I see no way to save it (with good odds in your favor) by keeping it inside this winter. Sorry, just my opinion.
Best chance for survival is give it a 3 month rest. Jan., Feb., March and hopefully when the spring temps. and longer days arrive it will bud out for you and be OK for a normal growing season and next year's growth. BTW, you will not have to build any special enclosure for it next year. It will be fine on it's own outside once it goes through it's normal hardening off period.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
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"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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Victrinia Ridgeway
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I'm almost certain (without getting to touch it) that it's not a juniper... but rather Chamaecyparis psifera Boulevard aka. Boulevard False Cypress.

The tree will not do well indoors due to the dryness, heat, and insufficient light in a home. So like everyone else, I recommend finding alternate lodging for it.

I hope it makes it for you... I would hate for your daughter to be disappointed.

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

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Gnome
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Victrinia,

Thanks for the (tentative) ID. I knew there was something about this one I was missing. 8)

Norm

aniag
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Victrinia Ridgeway wrote:I'm almost certain (without getting to touch it) that it's not a juniper... but rather Chamaecyparis psifera Boulevard aka. Boulevard False Cypress.

The tree will not do well indoors due to the dryness, heat, and insufficient light in a home. So like everyone else, I recommend finding alternate lodging for it.

I hope it makes it for you... I would hate for your daughter to be disappointed.

Kindest regards,

Victrinia
Thank you, Victrinia!

I googled Boulevard False Cypress, and couldn't find any close-up photos. I thought if I saw a good photo, I would be able to compare the two. But it does seem to be more like it, than a juniper. Though I was hoping it was a juniper, as everyone says that they are the easiest to care for.

We were able to lift up most of the rocks, added some soil. It was dry, so we soaked it for 10 min, and now it is draining. Tomorrow it is going to my husband's friend who has a sunny porch with no heat, where she keeps some of her own dormant plants. We figured if it makes it through this winter, we will be able to care for it properly. Fingers crossed!

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aniag,

I think Victrinia nailed it. Try this one to compare.

https://www.johnstonplants.com/evergreens/chamaecyparis%20pisifera%20bouevard%20cypress2.JPG

Norm

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I agree that it is a Boulevard. This is my Boulevard cypress, for comparison. (Click for larger view.)
[img]https://i956.photobucket.com/albums/ae50/marsman61/Bonsai/Boulevard-Side-by-Side-2.jpg[/img]

Mine is out in the snow right now.

aniag
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Yes! It does look like a Boulevard!

So if it spends the rest of the winter in an unheated sunny porch, what are its chances to make it?

What else should we know to help it out?

I notice now some brownishi needles, but the scratch test is bright green.

Victrinia Ridgeway
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Chamaecyparis is not hard to keep... it would under normal circumstances not mind your weather in the least. It often takes the better part of a year, even two, to really learn what the tree will do where you live. It's part of the reason I always encourage people to have several trees so that you get in the habit of care without over fussing with the tree. The amount of attention bonsai needs is fairly relative whether you have one treee or ten. It's only when you get up into the dozens that it becomes more of a impact on your daily life.

Discipline is everything... watering, paying attention to it's position relative to sun exposure, feeding, pruning... these things can't be neglected if you want to do this craft. So patience and commitment are key. It is not unlike having a child, so much so, I don't vacation unless it's winter or I have two or more people on the ready to step in during my absense. Needless to say I'm home during the summer months...lol

Anyway... one of the important things to know about any Chamaecyparis is that it will NOT grow any foliage where there is no foliage present. So where you currently have foliage is the only place you'll get it. So in the future, you'll need to be very concious of where you are taking off foliage so you can keep that in mind.

They grow beautifully on nearly any nitrogen rich ferts. Organic or miracle grow is just a preference issue. When feeding it miracle grow don't use full strenght the way they show on the box, half is fine. Organics don't contain the salts, so you don't have to cut their strength. Feeding every other week is fine, but in the heavy growing season once a week is also very good for a young tree.

You shouldn't need to worry about repotting it for the next year, but if you want it to get bigger then you can take it out of that pot and do what we call "slip potting" next spring. Simply pop the tree out of the pot it's in, and settle it into a larger pot that is well draining, and into which you have already put in a shallow layer of soil. Then add in more soil all around and let it be. Use bonsai soil, which is to say a free draining soil mix. Regular potting soil would not be appropriate. Don't worry too much about root work at that point, just put it in a roomy enviornment... your tree is really young and you need to just get it vigorous. But that's all next year when it has woken up.

The unheated porch should be more than adequate for this winter. You don't want your friend to water it too heavily as there will not be a lot of activity over the winter. But keeping the soil evenly moist will be important. If the porch is so cold that it gets to freezing at some point, that's fine too... then don't water at all until it thaws or you can damage roots. When you get it out into the outdoors for next winter keep it in a wind protected spot and if there's snow, keep snow around it. It'll keep the roots a more even temp, and it'll slowly water the tree as well. Snow is very insulating against temperature fluxuations.

The browning is likely a response to being in your house, which is likely the driest enviornment it's ever been in. So if the browning foliage dies back, just trim it off in the spring. But Chamaecyparis also commonly have winter colors which make it look a little dull or even purplish. Wind will make that even more pronounced. So keep it out of the wind as I said before.

One last thing... any plant can be senstive to changes in light... for this winter, keep the tree in the sunniest part of the porch, because winter light is so low. Next year let it get a lot of sun in the spring, but if you get a lot of intense light in the summer, make sure it gets the majority of it's light in the morning, and filtered sunlight for the worst part of the day. That will also help out with the pot not drying out so badly during the day. This species does NOT like getting dry roots. They love being watered when they are growing. I wrote more about watering and how trees take up water in this thread: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20599

With proper care this tree could stay with your family for decades or longer.

Good luck!

Victrinia
La belle cose prendono tempo... (Beautiful things take time...)

aniag
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Victrinia! Thank you so very much! You are awesome!!!

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