Andrew D
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:26 pm
Location: St.Louis

Clarification Questions

Hello Everybody,
My names Andy and I am new to both the forum and Bonsai. I have wanted one for some time now and thanks to my girlfriend now have one(well what hopefully can eventually be titled one in a few years). Here is the situation. She bought it from a store in the mall which sells them. She then had it in her living room for about a week. I got it yesterday and it was in my house that whole day and night. During that day I spent about 6 or 7 hours reading up on bonsai. I of course got worried after finding out if it stays inside it will die. I moved it outside in a dug in hole and surrounded it with leaves and then covered the top with a cardboard box. The hole is about 8 inches deep and about a foot wide. I was worried about it freezing and dieing. I know it is a Juniper and that they are pretty tolerable to most conditions. I live in St.Louis. The winter here ranges from below freezing to a few nice days where the temp might reach 50 or 60 degrees (there are only a handful of these). Last night it was about 25. Some nights it will dip below this however (I know that below about 15 degrees there are problems). I've been using the toothpick method the past two days to ensure it has adequate water and from what I can tell I don't see any discoloration. My questions are:

What do I do to take care of the little guy in the dormancy period out there?

Is the pot it is in now suitable? (I konw there may deep some issues with the possibility of it growing deep roots)

Should I try to change the soil? (it seems to have good layered soil, no glue junk)

Should I let it grow out for a little while before I attempt to start doing anything with it? (I'm not a fan of the windswept/ almost cascade thing it has going on. I wanted to do an informal upright eventually)

I am a college student and have access over the summer to clay and kiln and such. I wanted to make a few different pots for it and humidity trays. Any suggestions? I've looked at many pictures of different kinds and know the basic idea. Anything I should go more twoards or avoid?

Sorry for the lengthy post. I believe I covered everything you all would ask about from earlier posters. I've read alot of material on bonsai trying to educate myself and do this the RIGHT way including much contained on this website. Just needing a little clarification. Any other opinions, tips, or anything else anyone would want to throw in would be great. Thanks!

[img]https://i891.photobucket.com/albums/ac115/AndrewDoering/78bb460d.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i891.photobucket.com/albums/ac115/AndrewDoering/5b91b167.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i891.photobucket.com/albums/ac115/AndrewDoering/6d19f1f2.jpg[/img]

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djlen
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Welcome to the forum Andrew -

Here's the problem with what you've done. It's been in her house for a week and before that in a Mall environment for we have no idea how long.

It's a Juniper and so it is winter hardy for your area, but it's not had time to harden off gradually which means it's not prepared to sit outside in 25° F temps. after being in 70° F temps. for who knows how long.
Do you have an unheated room or shed or attached garage which will give it a bit more time to adjust to a colder environment?
Everything you've done is good, but it should have been done in October when the temps. were in the 40's and 50's so that it could acclimate itself as the they went down.
Your tree has been used to being warm and is now it's out in much colder temps. It might adjust to that but it's a heck of a shock for it at this time of year. If it were mine I'd find a place to put it so that it wouldn't have to go through such a shock and could adjust gradually.

It's really criminal what these Malls do to these plants and then sell them as indoor plants and/or don't tell people how to properly care for them.
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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Andrew D
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:26 pm
Location: St.Louis

Yea I can put it in my garage. Although the garage is seperate from the house. Should I cover it? Or protect tnsome how to make it warmer while in the garage? Should I keep the humidity tray under it in the garage since the air may be alot dryer in the garage?

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djlen
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Joined: Fri Oct 02, 2009 12:37 am
Location: Just East of Zone 7a

I think the garage would be a better location for it temporarily while it adjusts to a colder environment. Does the garage have a window that you can put it in front of?
The object of all this is to give it an adjustment period to lessen the shock of the change in temp. But you also don't want to put it into total darkness.
If the garage does have a window it will be fine there for a few weeks, then transition it to a hole, preferably on the south or protected side of the house.
Or if you have a sheltered porch that would work. I used to keep my trees in a screened porch all winter. When it snowed I'd bring handfuls of snow into the porch area and put the snow on the soil where it would sit until a warm day melted it and that watered the trees. :)
They need no nutrient additions when over-wintering and much less water than you've been supplying. Just as long as the soil doesn't dry out your tree will be fine. No need for the humidity tray. It's needs are much less when it goes dormant.
Fact of the matter is that Junipers are very adaptable to your St.Louis climate and had it come from a nursery where it would have had proper treatment it would be fine outside all winter with very little special care. It's all the changes that it's having to go through that make it's welfare dicey now.
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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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Andrew,

Len is correct about the need for dormancy, Juniper is not an appropriate species for indoor culture. The garage is probably your best bet. Do you know how cold it gets there? I keep a min/max thermometer in my garage to monitor the highs and lows. Evergreens still photosynthesize at lower temperatures but their need for light is greatly reduced, still I would not cover the foliage and if there is a window and you can situate it so that it gets some sun, that would be my choice.

Next spring the tree needs to go outside where it should remain.

Norm

Andrew D
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:26 pm
Location: St.Louis

I moved it inside my garage on a window sill. All the window sills are north facing whch I know is the last option for directional sunlight however since the light requirement is low in the dormancy period I figured it wouldbe ok. Plus it's the only window in the garage. The lows for the next ten days are around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. I know my garage stays somewhat warmer than that. I agree that it is terrible how bonsai trees in stores are commercially marketed and sold for failure. I'm just trying to save it at this point after reading. I was reaky worried it would die on me inside as everyhing I have read says try will inevitabley die if left indoors. Anything else I can do to improve it's chances?

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Gnome
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Andrew,
Anything else I can do to improve it's chances?
Be cautious about watering during the rest period. As long as the soil is damp you are OK. My Juniper, which is outside, does not get watered for several months during the winter. The things that I keep in the garage will get watered periodically but not terribly often. Never water on a schedule.

Norm

Andrew D
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:26 pm
Location: St.Louis

Awesome! Thanks for the help!

Marsman
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Location: Coventry, CT

Half of my jumipers are outside under a picnic table in the snow, the others are ones that I worked on recently at a workshop and some cuttings and I have them up on my unheated bonus room with a south facing window. Still very cold up there.

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