Green
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Location: Sterling, Illinois

new tree?, old tree?

I have questions about two trees. I have an old tree(hornbeam) in my garage that is in a nursery pot. It is root bound and needs to be at least root pruned and maybe even re potted. It could also use some pruning for the branches. It stands about 18 inches tall and has a 1.5 inch trunk. What size pot should I use? Also since I live in Northern Illinois and it is still in the 0-20 degree season. When should I start?

Next, I have just received a tree as a gift from Dallas Bonsai. It came from a warmer weather climate. I have kept it inside for the last couple weeks since I got it. When should I place it outside since the temp has been ranging anywhere from 15-30 degrees in my garage. I thought about just putting it out their but wasn't sure if it would be a shock to have that drastic of a temperature difference.
85 miles west of Chicago
Zone 5a

Green
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After reading some more in this forum it looks like I need to get my new tree outside. It is a juniper by the way. My only question to that is this. I just watered it and the temp in my garage right now is about 15 degrees. It is supposed to be 20 to 30 below zero outside tonight with the wind chill. I expect that will make my garage even colder. So is it still a good idea to move the tree to my garage in the morning since it has just been watered?
85 miles west of Chicago
Zone 5a

JTred
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If it was shipped from a warmer climate I would just leave it in the garage for the rest of the winter. Next winter just leave it outside year round. For now maybe but it somewhere where it will get some light, but not a ton. A garage window is probably perfect. I would wait to put it outside until the outside temps are not predicted to fall below whatever your garage is right now.

Green
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Am I going to freeze the roots since the soil is saturated with water right now and my garage is well below freezing for the next few days?
85 miles west of Chicago
Zone 5a

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bonsaiboy
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If possible to heat the garage in any way, you could do that. Or, bundle up the pot with rags or cloth of some kind. This should prevent it from freezing it think.
הדמיון הוא יותר חשוב מאשר ידע

Green
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As far as my hornbeam is concerned when should I start working on that tree? It is in my garage now. If I read right somewhere, I can trim some of the unwanted branches now. Is that right? Also when would be a good time to remove from nursery pot for a root pruning? And lastly, if I can do that now is it to early to re pot?
85 miles west of Chicago
Zone 5a

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Green,
As far as my hornbeam is concerned when should I start working on that tree? It is in my garage now. If I read right somewhere, I can trim some of the unwanted branches now. Is that right? Also when would be a good time to remove from nursery pot for a root pruning? And lastly, if I can do that now is it to early to re pot?
I don't own one of these so I will speak in generalities. Most deciduous trees should not be re-potted this early in a climate such as yours. I suppose that it would be possible if you can keep it frost free after the re-potting but it sounds like that is a problem for you. Also by root pruning you, by definition, damage roots so there is a definite advantage to doing this just as they are coming into growth and will begin to heal. If you work too early the roots are more vulnerable.

Next, at this time of year all of the trees reserves are still in the roots from last summer/fall. If you root-prune too early you cut away all of those reserves. If you wait to root-prune until the new buds are swollen, or perhaps just breaking, the majority of those reserves have already been transfered above ground.

I know it is hard to wait in spring and I have begun as early as March before but I have learned that it is usually better to wait and not try to force the issue. On a similar note, don't be too anxious to bring your tree outside on the first nice day. Bonsai pots will warm much quicker than a tree in the ground and by warming the tree you are encouraging the it to leaf out early. If you should get a late frost you will find yourself in the position of needing to move the tree in and out, which is not ideal for you or the tree. Better to keep it inside the cold garage as late as possible.

Norm

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Thanks gnome for the advice. I thought as well that I should wait and that's what I'll do. As far as trimming some of the branches, am I safe doing that?

I have a lot of smaller unwanted branches and small branches that are going in the wrong direction. I would like to remove some but I am not sure if it is safe yet. I did read somewhere that it wouldn't do much damage to trim some of the branches during dormancy. Is that true?
85 miles west of Chicago
Zone 5a

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Gnome
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Green,
I have a lot of smaller unwanted branches and small branches that are going in the wrong direction. I would like to remove some but I am not sure if it is safe yet. I did read somewhere that it wouldn't do much damage to trim some of the branches during dormancy. Is that true?
I would not anticipate any problems by doing what you suggest.

Norm

Charles M
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In terms of repotting the hornbeam, assuming it is in your typical 1 or 2 or 5 gallon nursery pot, the next pot should be half as high and twice as wide as the nursery pot. This formula allows for minimal root pruning (unless it is really badly potbound), gives the tree room to grow, and helps establish the roots in a shape more amenable to a true bonsai pot.

TomM
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Good advice - and something many folks don't think about. If you want your tree to end up in a small 'flat' pot you should work toward that goal early on. Encourage radial or lateral root growth and good nebari.

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