kiesel
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Location: North Idaho

Help: Can Juniper Bonsai Survive Idaho Winter?

I just got a lovely four year old Juniper Bonsai tree for my 19th birthday. I adore it! I've wanted one for years now. I live in Idaho and where I live it is a particular snow belt...we have over 3 feet of snow right now and it's been in the single digits regularly now for a week.
I keep my Bonsai, whose name is Pascal, in my window in my room. He gets lots of light from about 10 AM to 2 PM. But it is very cold. Our house is large and drafty, and although my room stays a comfortable temperature of about 65 degrees or less, I'm not sure my Bonsai will be healthy.
I know almost nothing about Bonsai trees, as I just got it less than 2 months ago. I need knowledgeable advice about how to help Pascal. Should I put him outside in the Summer? Our summers are lovely weather...about 70 to 95 degrees with no humidity whatsoever. But we have a farm with lots of animals...free range dogs and chickens I am especially concerned will destroy my little Pascal.
Please help!
Thank you.
~Kiesel~

SvetSad
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Location: Indianapolis IN

You should do a little bit of research and reading about your tree. But one thing that everyone on this forum will agree to is that your tree will surely die if you continue to keep it indoors. Junipers can survive very well in the cold, and most trees do very well under snow in winter time. The only thing is you may want to either bury the pot into the ground, or surround it with mulch or something (to keep the roots protected from freezing).

Someone with more experience will probably add more info, but if not, just search the forum for junipers and see what other threads say about it, and also just Google juniper bonsai, and you will come across a lot of info on how to best care for your tree

hope this helps :)
I'm Russian and litteral translation of screen name is Svet "light" Sad "garden" :)

kiesel
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Location: North Idaho

Reply from Kiesel

Thank you, I have read quite a few things about Juniper Bonsai's I could find online; especially about keeping them indoors. It seems I need to keep them moist? But not too moist...this confuses me. I did the toothpick test, and my Juniper's soil is dry. I mist it daily, and if I miss a day, I mist just a little more than usual.
Some of the needles are getting brown, I pinch them off. Is this normal?
Thanks!
~Kiesel~

SvetSad
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Location: Indianapolis IN

brown needles means it's dying. It should be moved outdoors.

what kind of soil is it in? actual bonsai soil or just some potting soil?

How do you water your tree?

are there any rocks glued on top of the soil? or is there moss?
I'm Russian and litteral translation of screen name is Svet "light" Sad "garden" :)

kiesel
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Location: North Idaho

I was worried it was dying, but I read somewhere that a few little browning needles are normal as it grows. Is this true? There were only a dozen needles that were brown, about one on each branch.
I don't know what kind of soil it is in, it does have little rocks at the top of the soil, but they aren't glued. I water my tree by a mister, lightly misting every day to keep the branches moist. I also put maybe a Tbsp of water on the roots daily and it takes a while to soak in.
There is no moss, should there be?
I don't want this tree to die, I'll do ANYTHING to keep it alive!!! it's very special to me. Am I doing anything wrong?
~Kiesel~

SvetSad
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Location: Indianapolis IN

a couple of brown needles is normal, but junipers die when they are kept indoors, which is why i think it might be dying.

can you post pictures of your tree?

And your watering technique is completly wrong, you actually need to water the soil make sure it is saturated with water (this is where bonsai soil is important for good drainage), and make sure water is running freely from the bottom.

If your tree is in the wrong kind of soil (potting soil) you may want to water it, wait 10-15 minutes and water it again, to make sure all the soil and roots get the water that they need. Then you can use the chopstick method to keep track of when it should be watered again (with junipers, the soil should never be bone dry)

if your tree is planted in soil and has a layer of rocks on top, they are just decorative and need to be removed, if there would have been moss that would need to be removed also.

It seems like you need to do A LOT more research than what you have done so far.

Use the forum search option and read other threads about junipers, they may be a bit helpful, but also read this...

https://www.bonsai4me.com/SpeciesGuide/Juniperus.html

And find a good spot for your tree outside, if you want to keep it alive and will do anything, you will need to move it outside
I'm Russian and litteral translation of screen name is Svet "light" Sad "garden" :)

kiesel
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Wow, that is completely opposite from everything I have researched...thanks. It's worth a try for sure! I wonder why, everything I have read said Junipers like it dry with some misting.
Okay, so should I stop misting? The soil is mostly dry, somewhat moist right by the roots. Should I submerge it in water like I've heard some people do? There is also a larger rock, decoration I imagine, halfway in the soil and half way out. Should I take it out or just leave it?
Thank you so much.
~Kiesel~

kiesel
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Location: North Idaho

Also: that website was helpful, but I am confused as it said to water, do not keep soil overly moist because it can kill it but mist the greenery as it will absorb water? Which is what I have been doing.

Also I do not think you understand it would kill my bonsai worse to put it outside, it is only 5 degrees outside where I live and there is over 3 feet of snow. The wind is fierce sometimes and we have farm animals like chickens and dogs that would possibly destroy my bonsai. Any ideas?
~Kiesel~

kiesel
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Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:22 am
Location: North Idaho

Picture

Here is a link to a picture of my bonsai. Maybe you can see some of the tiny browning needles.
I'm sorry for the background, I tried taking a picture in the window but it wouldn't work for the bad lighting behind the tree.
Also I moved some pebbles aside so you can see the soil. I don't know if that helps or not...

https://pinterest.com/pin/245727723390424295/

Thank you.
~Kiesel~

tomc
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You are going to water your bonsai by liberally watering from above, or by immersion when you find the soil dry. Let your tree drain on the kitchen drain board. Keep it in light in as cold a place as you have.

Your tree is more than a little screwed by keep it in heated space out of season. Now its far past its normal time to go dormant. And your on thin ice till spring when you will put it outdoors and keep it outdoors.

In cold areas with big snow-pack you are going to need some small shelter next fall. If it lives, we can talk about it then.

I give your tree a less than one in two chance (to survive), due to it being stored warm out of season. Which was your retailers failing not yours.
Think like a tree
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kiesel
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Thank you! I immersed my tree and let it soak in lots of water for a good 30 minutes. I let it drain and then put it in my cold window, where it has been the whole time. It is about 40 degrees at night in my window, and maybe 50 in the day? Says my Dad. Is this an okay temperature for my bonsai tree right now?
When you say dormant, does that mean it should be covered? I have read how people keep their bonsai's under snow in winter, also sometimes are kept inside. What is the best for my Juniper? As I said before, where I live it is way too frigid for my tree to be outside. It is probably going to be below zero at night for a while. We are in a real cold spell.
Any advice is appreciated.
~Kiesel~

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rainbowgardener
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You aren't getting it. Junipers are extremely cold hardy. Cold tolerance varies somewhat depending on the variety, but here's what they say about the prostrate juniper:

Ultra cold-hardy to minus forty degrees Fahrenheit or even colder

Look around your neighborhood. If you see juniper trees/shrubs growing, you know they are hardy in your climate.

However, that does not mean you can dump it outdoors now, since it has not gone dormant and has been kept in a heated house. In nature, the juniper goes dormant and protects itself when the weather gets cold in the fall.

So as has been said, you will need to limp it through this winter, keeping it in the coldest indoor place you can find, then take it out in the spring and never bring it back in to a heated space.

Here's an article about juniper bonsai care:

https://www.nebonsai.com/Juniper.pdf
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

kiesel
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Okay, so it can handle cold. I got it now. :)

However, I still have one concern for next year (if my tree lives). We get from 5 to 11 feet of snow where I live. Like I said, we live in a snow belt. Right now we have only a little over 3, but by March it will be 5 or more. It's constantly snowing. This year is a little less than usual.

My bonsai can't survive under all that snow weight, can it?

And I think I have the perfect place for my bonsai to live under the circumstances this year. Our house has a cold room where we keep our bulk food, it's just barely above freezing in there. And there is a sun room on the edge for my garden's starter seeds. I'll keep it in there. It's got light but it is the coldest place in the house. Will that be okay?

Thanks for all your help, everyone. I hope my tree lives. Just to make sure I've got it . . . when the soil of my pot dries out just below the moist point, I should water it thoroughly again, right?
~Kiesel~

kiesel
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Location: North Idaho

And rainbowgardener, thank you for the pdf. It was VERY helpful, I think it actually answered all my questions. :)
~Kiesel~

tomc
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kiesel wrote:When you say dormant, does that mean it should be covered? I have read how people keep their bonsai's under snow in winter, also sometimes are kept inside. What is the best for my Juniper? As I said before, where I live it is way too frigid for my tree to be outside. It is probably going to be below zero at night for a while. We are in a real cold spell.
Any advice is appreciated.
I built a cold house bermed into a hillside and glazed with double poly-carbonate in New Hampshire for my cold hearty trees.

The whole house would freeze about Jan 1st and thaw about April 1st.

If any light can get intro your dormant tree it will be enough. Heck a peach basket would work for a single tree.

The shelter is to protect your trees from snow pack and junque falling out of the sky and breaking hard frozen limbs.

Junque? yah like a branch from a bigger tree, ice off the roof etc. It only needs one...
Think like a tree
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tomc
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Kiesel,

I so don't want you to give up on this bonsai thing.

There is a learning curve you'll need to aquire to really succeed. Please keep reading before your tree develops a problem.

Junipers in the mass-market are rooted and maybe clipped once before sale. With bottom heat to forse roots your cutting age is much more likely four months and not four years old.

The soil your tomato plant needs to prosper will choke and drown a juniper. Just as a single example of a lot of stuff you will need to know.
Think like a tree
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