derkap10
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Overwinter?

Hi everybody,

Just wondering what everybody will be doing with their trees over the winter. I'm thinking I'm gonna build a small cold frame against the back of the house out of some 2bys and plastic sheeting. Will also mulch in with some pine straw and/or some other form of mulch. Doesn't get overly cold here during the winter just looking to protect from frost at night. Would love to hear, and see pics of, what the folks in the more Northenly areas will be doing for the Winter. Thanks y'all,

Allen
Happy little trees!

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BewilderedGreenyO.o
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I won't be doing anything with my trees this winter... our winter will likely be all about sunshine and great weather :| If we do get some frost I may be tarping them but normally its pretty warm throughout the winter and drastic measures just aren't needed here. :roll: I wish we could at least get some rain this winter.
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linlaoboo
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I'm moving to CA for the nice weather some day.

Last couple years I've kept my japanese maple in something like this with the plastic covered without problems here in NJ.

[img]https://i529.photobucket.com/albums/dd340/malagabee/Green-House-23124164651.jpg[/img]

This year I've bent 2 pvcs into the ground, cover over with plastic sheets from Home depot and I'll over winter my maple and chinese elm in it. .. well see what hapens. Our winters are much colder than Mississippi but I'm not sure how much opening I should leave. I kept my ficus on my rack as shown above a couple weeks ago with it covered and some leaves got scorched cuz it got too hot during the day yet.
ficus, maple, elm, juniper, pine

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Gnome
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derkap10,

Some of my things stay outside all winter with no shelter other than what nature can provide. I do help in that I never leave anything exposed after Thanksgiving, everything goes on the ground and is mulched in with shredded leaves. When snow arrives I cover the bed with snow and keep it covered as long as I can. This works surprisingly well and I seldom have a problem.

Other things, such as Chinese Elms or this years seedlings, stay out exposed until around Thanksgiving and then go inside to an unheated garage. It gets cold in there but not extremely so and the drying winds are not an issue.

Still others, like Pomegranate, stay outside long enough to get a few light frosts before being brought inside the garage. Later, when the group above comes in, the Pomegranate go into a cool basement.

Norm

TomM
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My overwintering methods are much the same as Norm's. No cold-frame. The hardiest trees either go out into the garden and stay under snow or get placed on the back patio against the house - north side, no sun. That's the pines, larches, junipers, cedars, spruce, etc.

Less hardy maples and elms go into an unheated but attached workshop/woodshed - cold but no wind or sun. Then there is a cool corner in the cellar. Good area for the hornbeams, boxwoods and others.

My main concern this year is to prevent damage from the critters that did a lot of damage last winter, mainly chipmunks and/or mice. Plans for a lot of D-con from now on. I learned the hard way. Errrrr!!! :evil:
Zone 4b

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djlen
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I use a lot of Norm's methods myself. Most of my deciduous trees go into the unheated garage after the holidays for the coldest months. Freezing roots is the biggest killer of trees in my experience and the garage seems to do the job in that regard. Deciduous trees (some will tell you Evergreens as well) need no light when dormant so light is not an issue during the winter.
Chinese Elms can come into the house under strong fluorescent light early in January after an abbreviated 'rest' where they can get a jump on Spring inside.
Where you live in Mississippi, it seems to me that cold should not be that much of an issue. How cold does it get where you are?
Regards,
Len

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joedes3
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Wintering

I am fairly new to bonsai. Last year I left two Junipers outside on the bench, no protection. As you can guess, both died.

This year I have read a great deal more but have no juniper. I now have schefflera. I was afraid to purchase outdoor plants for bonsai for fear of just killing them again. This site has been a world of knowledge for me.

I just found and joined a bonsai club. Attended my first meeting and we had Collin Lewis as a guest speaker. WOW!

Now I can't wait for next spring! To go back and get more junipers etc.

Great initial post, I'm sure there are a number of people wondering about wintering bonsai.
Joe DeSisto

TomM
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Joe D. - First off I want to say that I am so glad that you did not give up after losing your two junipers. So many people get discouraged as soon as their first attempt with bonsai fails. And you did some reading and found this forum. You're on the right track.

Now you've joined a bonsai club - NICE. Oh how I wish more people would do that. Guest speaker Colin Lewis!! Excellent. Good for you.

About junipers, if cared for properly (outdoors) they are pretty tough customers. I'm in a colder zone than you. I overwinter junipers on a back patio buried in snow and kept from harsh drying winds. Winter winds can be the biggest problem.

I commented on your pond basket question on your other thread.

joedes3
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I now wish I had a juniper to just try wintering the correct way. This forum has been very helpful. I haven't post much but I have been reading everything I can.

In my other post, I wrote that my understanding of wintering junipers is:

1. Put the bonsai plant in the container on the ground near the house, protected from the wind.
2. Cover the container with leaves or whatever.
3. When it snows, cover the plant with snow.

Does this sound correct?
Joe DeSisto

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djlen
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I have done just that for years with much success......a pot or two broken along the way when the odd super cold spell came up and the pot had excess moisture in it. But those broken pots were spread over 40 or more years of sometimes very cold Winters so I cannot complain.
I use the south side of the house for the outside stuff, because it gets the most sun(for warmth more than for light).
Now ALL my deciduous plants go into the garage or cold frame or shed for Overwintering if possible. If you don't have access to any of those pick a sheltered, southerly spot against the house.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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TomM
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I have a different take on the 'southern exposure'. Not to start an argument as I respect Len and would not criticize his experience.

I find that when given a southern exposure in winter the trees are subjected to more frequent and repeated thaws and freezes. Late winter/early spring cycles of thaw & freeze can do much harm to new bud growth.

My preference for a northern location is to keep the trees frozen/dormant for as long as possible - late April or even May if possible. This is to eliminate the warm/cold cycles as much as I can. That works better for me in my location. I get very early and vary late killer frosts at my elevation. It might be different for others in warmer climes.

Zone 4a/b

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djlen
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Tom, your input is always welcome and valuable so never hesitate to add or comment on any of my posts.
I am surprised to hear that your trees do so well considering your Winter climate can be harsher up in NY State than ours here in New Jersey. Possibly I've not given my trees credit for their ability to handle out north and north-west winds that I should. I've just had pretty good success using the south-west sides of the houses I've lived in. Hearing that our trees can handle colder environments for longer periods of time will go into the "data bank" for future reference. :)
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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TomM
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Len, Thanks for understanding my post, and for offering good advice here. Maybe it is a matter of "location, location". Our friends in Mississippi (and I lived there in my military years) would have a very different take on care of junipers. But our writer, Joe in Massachusetts, is getting good info from this forum regardless. The most basic of rules applies here - "please please don't keep your junipers indoors".

So "just east of zone 7a" is New Jersey - was wondering about that!!!

derkap10
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Thanks for all the great input guys.
Really helped me to get a better understanding of what to do with my trees this winter. I think I'm going to go with the cold frame along the back of the house. This is the South side of the house but it's much more sheltered than the front (North) side of the house. The front would have virtually no shelter from wind, rain, or frost. When I build the cold frame I think I'll put hinges on the bottom of the sides as well as the top so that if there isn't any real chance of frost they'll be, basically, just in the open. Still sheltered by the eave of the house though.
Last winter in Mississippi was an aberation. In early through mid-January we went 16 days without the temp getting above freezing (either tied or set a new record). Usually though it's not at all unusual for it to be above freezing most days. Not unusual to slip below freezing at night. And it's not unheard of to get temps over 70 in mid-winter. I think my main thing will be protecting from frost and too much water (Winter here is the rainy season. Snow? Yeah right :lol: ). And we have short winters. Probably got over a month before I even have to begin to worry about frost. By mid-March that danger will be past. So I think that for most days this winter my trees will just be mulched-in with the cold frame just being closed on nights (or days) when there is some frost.
Thanks again y'all.
Happy little trees!

TomM
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Still concerned with the mid-winter days that go over 70 degrees - and that happens here on occasion too. With a cold frame having a southern exposure it must really heat up in there - cooking the little trees. Do the vent windows cool it enough? Then the trees come out of dormancy just as the temps drop again. Big problem.

Here we pack ice/snow around them to try to extend the dormancy period if possible.

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Gnome
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derkap10,

Tom is making some valid points. An enclosed space on the south side of your home is going to get very warm inside at times. IMO the north side would be a better choice. In fact, in your climate, you probably do not need any enclosure at all.

The foliage of dormant, temperate, plants is very hardy, it is the roots that need protection below 15F. If you keep your plants on the ground with a little mulch around them I would think that you would be fine.

You may actually have trouble with the opposite problem, warming too much too soon. That's why the north side may be preferable. The rainy times you mention may be more of a problem. If you do make any form of shelter perhaps a sloping roof will be enough.

If you are still uncertain please have a look at this:
https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/overwint.htm

Norm

joedes3
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This has been a GREAT thread. I have learned agreat deal from it. Thanks.
Joe DeSisto

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Gnome
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Joe,

Glad you have found it useful. :)

Norm

derkap10
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Okay. Y'all sold me (thanks for the link Norm, very informative). Not gonna do a cold frame. Was actually kinda worried that I might close it one night when it got cold and then forget to open it. There's two little corners on the front (North) side of my house that are a little more protected (although one of them little niches isn't usable because of a downspout). I can get a couple of trees in there and they should be okay with some dirt around the bottom of the pots and some pine straw. I was thinking I would put the rest on the East side of my house. There's only about a dozen feet between that end of my house and my neighbors house. There's also a good sized Oak tree at the corner of my neighbors house that keeps that whole area pretty well shaded (grass barely grows there even in midsummer). I'll mulch in with soil and pine straw and since that area can kind of funnel those cold North winds between the houses I was also thinking I might make a little wall by stacking some cinder blocks on the North side of my trees for protection. Does that sound like it would work? I'm also wondering when to make the move. I guess will probably just sort of depend huh? It was 84 degrees today and even now, at 12:30 AM it's only down to 66. Maybe when I get the first probability for a frost? No wonder some people only like dealing with tropicals :lol: .
Happy little trees!

TomM
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Allen, Could you give us a list of the trees that you will be overwintering outdoors?
I'm still a bit puzzled about your concerns for their protection in northern Miss. You mentioned in your initial post about 2-3 weeks of harsh weather. Did you lose trees last year? What kinds?

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djlen
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Okay, let me just add my 2 cents in here regarding the south facing cold frame. We have a fairly large one on the south side of the garage. We over winter delicate outdoor plants and seedlings in it each year. Currently it contains a bunch of Crepe Myrtle starts that I rooted this past Summer and they will develop nicely there this Winter. As will some U. Parvifolia seedlings that will go into it when they go dormant. They will remain in there until mid January when I will bring them into the house for a "jump" on Spring time.
The top on our frame is hinged. It is actually a few complete storm windows with screens in them and we can either open the entire units via propping them or we can slide the individual windows open for a much ventilation as we need. At this time of year when the the warmer days do occur, we find it necessary to be particularly careful with regard to day time temps.
However when the Winter weather hits just cracking the windows a bit on each end works to alleviate any fear of frying the plants.
Having said all that I will also say that I don't keep any of my Bonsai material other than 2 Japanese Maples in the cold frame and that is only after complete leaf drop has occurred. I've been doing this for years with these plants, to keep the roots from hard freezing, with good success.
So I would say that if a south facing location is available and a reasonable amount of common sense and attention applied, I would consider going in that direction. We are also considering adding an East facing frame next year. We have no North facing area available but that would be my last choice for a cold frame due to that location's lack of light.
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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Len,

Another thing to consider is keeping things dormant in spring. It is all too easy to have potted plants warm up and break domancy before spring has really sprung.

In the past there were times when I was anxious to get started in the spring. Now I find that I am trying to keep everything dormant as long as possible. Of course my climate is much different than the O.P.'s so I have different considerations.

Do you have any problems along those lines with, say, your Maples?

Norm

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djlen
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Yes, I agree Norm. The maples break dormancy about 3 or so weeks early every year. When they do I have to be careful and judicious about the cooling/heating of the cold frame, and this must be balanced with the seedlings my wife has in there as well. But I like the early break and can protect or expose the new growth in the frame. This is one of the reasons we built the structure. Her for early seed break and me for giving certain plants or trees a jump on Spring.
Between her and I we keep the environment pretty even inside that enclosure. :)
BTW, I'm going to try giving some of the Elms a jump out there this year. Some will come in under the fluorescents in January and some will come out of the garage and into the cold frame at that time. I'm guessing that they will break in March and we'll see how they do.
Regards,
Len

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

It seems you have a plan that works for you and that is the important thing. Similarly, the O.P. is going to have to find his own path that works in his location. The first year will be the most unnerving.

Norm

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djlen
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Gnome wrote:Len,

It seems you have a plan that works for you and that is the important thing. Similarly, the O.P. is going to have to find his own path that works in his location. The first year will be the most unnerving.

Norm
Totally agree Norm. I have over 40 years of experience/mistakes (take your pick) with plants and at least 30 years with cold frames facing every conceivable direction at different houses I've lived in. I like the South facing cold frame best at this time because of my experience but mostly because I have the time to monitor ours and it's environment carefully. The rewards are greater but the risk is as well. For a newbie at this I would advise East as a first option followed by West.
Mistakes are part of the learning process. Unfortunately, making a mistake with a tree that one has invested time and emotion in, can be a tough way to learn.
Having said all this I will repeat that I do not make a habit of using a cold frame for Bonsai trees. Very young trees......seedlings and/or whips when you want a longer growing season yes. Mature deciduous trees will do fine in a dark garage or shed to over-Winter. I've kept some evergreens in my garage near a window and they've done fine with minimal light when dormant. And I've made good use of the south side of my house by putting many next to the house and mulching them in.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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derkap10
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Hi Y'all,
Tom asked for a list of the trees I'll be overwintering outside. I got two Azaleas (standard 'garden variety' in nursery pots (went to friends house last June and found his wife digging them up from the little strip along the front walk, decided she wanted annuals instead) doing really well), a Boxwood, a Thuja (the only thing in a 'bonsai' container), a Juniper, a group of Bald Cypresses (were in a bonsai tray until the baby raccoons showed up and dug them out, now in a deep plastic pot, probably put in ground in spring), a single Bald cypress (about 4 foot), and a Chinese Elm (also baby coons but they managed to break that pot). Last winter all I had was a Ficus (did well inside through the winter). Was worried because last year we had a really, really, really unusual cold spell. Surely can't happen two years in a row. Thinking I'm just going to 'mulch in' and keep some plastic sheeting handy in case of frost. If it works..... it works. If not.... then I reckon I will have learned a bit. I think it'll be alright. Thanks for the input again y'all. Glad I started this thread. Learned a lot.
Happy little trees!

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