Troy11277
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 7:54 pm
Location: Stafford, Virginia

New bonsai owner with problems

I was given a bonsai as a wedding present from my brother. I don't know anything about where it came from, but I do know that it's about 5 years old. I suspect that he bought it from a reseller at a mall, and I have read that the quality of those trees are not usually very good. I just recently found out that it is a Juniper. The problem I am having is that I received it in July. I recently found out that it is supposed to be an outside tree, so it's been indoors since I received it. I know that I have to get it outside and quickly. However, it's beginning to get colder out here in Viriginia. I read somewhere that there is a possibility of stressing the tree if I suddenly move it from inside where it is warm to outside where it is cold. The temperature has been staying in the low to mid 60's in the day but dropping to high 40's at night and I don't believe we've had our first frost yet. Will I injure the tree if I put it out now, without some sort of acclimatization? Also, I live in a rented town house that says I can't plant anything. I do have a mulch bed, but all personal plants must remain in a pot. Can I keep the bonsai in the pot that it's in and still have it outside?

The Helpful Gardener
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Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Hmmmm.

First we need to get this plant somewhere where it can winter; it needn't be outside but it does need to be cool (50-40 degrees). Outside will work for now but not for the winter unless we get it in the ground. If it was a deciduous plant it would be easy; cardboard box with mulch and check it once a month for water. You can even close the box! BUt the evergreen needs sun, even in winter...

What kind of pot is it? This is one of those times when we actually want a cheap plastic pot; that can be buried in the mulch (or deeper) with no issue and we still aren't fighting the board. Glazed pots do not do well with freezing temps and usually start to craze and pop chips of glaze with a few frosts, so if it's glazed you probably want to find one of those cheap plastics I was talking about. (I am a big fan of muds and clay pots as they do take a frost, but you wouldn't want to bury one...)

My other suggestion would be a regular (every two months) spray with an anti-dessicant like Wilt-Pruf during the winter outside; this will eliminate the usual killer for evergreens in winter, drying out in the dry wind.

I think you've caught this in time and it's all doable, but time is of the essence...

Scott

Troy11277
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 7:54 pm
Location: Stafford, Virginia

I appreciate your suggestions, Scott. I apologize for asking so many questions. I just don't want to kill it. The pot it came in is definately a plastic pot. When you say bury it in the mulch, do you mean just build the mulch up around it or actually dig? If I dig, how far down should I try to go? Just to the top of the pot or try to go deeper? Will it be alright to get snowed on or do I need to protect it from snow? I have been doing well with water and believe I learned how much she liked to take, while indoors. How much should that change while it's outside in the winter?

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

Howdy

We want to get it at the soil level that it's at now and no deeper; I'm guessing thats about the depyh of the mulch (or should be). Snow is our friend here; it never gets colder than 32 degrees so our only consideration is would it break branches, and considering the plant that's highly unlikely.

Watering in this situation becomes a function more of Mother Nature than you, but keep an eye to when Mother gets stingy with the precipitation, and supplement accordingly, not forgetting that the plant's H2O needs shrink with the colder weather (less is more here; too much is definitely worse this time of year).

Sounds like you've done well so far and you're asking all the right questions so far; I'd say the outlook is bright... :)

Scott

Troy11277
Newly Registered
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 2004 7:54 pm
Location: Stafford, Virginia

Couple final questions

Scott,

I appreciate all your help. I have a couple of final questions that don't have much to do with winterizing and then I think I should be able to get on my way. First question is one of fertilizing. I would imagine that the place my tree was purchased from took care of it before I got it. I have not fertilized it at all since I got it. Is that something that I should do now or wait until spring rolls around again? The second question is one of shaping. It looks like it is heading in the direction of having a nice cascading look to it. I think I like that. Would I want to shape it to get it to hold the looks it's going towards or shape it to get it to do something else? Do I need to shape it at all? I know winter time is the best time to do it, so I would like to shape it as soon as possible. I just need to know what I should anticipate getting out of shaping. Again, thanks for all your help. I truely appreciate it.

Troy

The Helpful Gardener
Mod
Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

No more cutting or fertilizer until spring.

Either would encourage new growth that wouldn't have time to harden off, leaving dead tissue on the plant for winter and early spring and juniper twig blight (Phomopsis) is a big enough problem without creating ideal conditions for it. Resist the urge...

...which leaves you the winter to look at pictures, do some reading, and, yes, look over the website to find out exactly where you want to go with this tree. Plenty of time when you consider you will have this tree for decades; it all shouldn't happen in the first two months... :)

Scott

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