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Tip of the Week  #17

Using A Cold Frame, Garage, or Tool Shed For Wintering

Welcome to our next installment of  "Tips Of The Week".

This feature is for the benefit of visitors to this site, I would be happy to hear from you if there is something you would like to see covered here in future weeks. Please direct your E-mail to let me know if I should include your first name, last name, city, E-mail address or no acknowledgement.

Interested in past articles? There's a list at the bottom of the page.

Last night, while doing some work on the site, a visitor named Namir from Garden City Michigan clicked the "Click to Chat With Me" button on the bottom of the page.  We discussed wintering a Juniper and a Hinoki Cypress.  He has a garage which has no windows. This is not an ideal wintering place, but it's usable if the garage is unheated, and you get your bonsai fully dormant before putting them inside. The best approach is to leave the bonsai outdoors through two frosts. At that time, they will be dormant, having gone through gradually decreasing temperatures for a couple of months. The exception is when the average temperature has been in the 40's and then drops suddenly down to the teens. In this instance, your bonsai should be moved to a sheltered location like a garage, shed, cold frame, or even a cool indoor location. As soon as things return to normal, move them back outside. After they have had two "normal" frosts, they are ready for their winter location.

It's a good idea to put a Minimum/Maximum Thermometer next to your bonsai in order to know what the highest & lowest temperatures have been. Keep in mind that too warm can be as bad or worse as too cold. It also helps to know when the temperature comes above freezing in order to know when to water your bonsai. Frozen soil feels totally dry, but it is not, and you should not attempt to water it. Wait until it thaws, and then water. There will be times in winter when you can go for weeks between watering, but only when the temperature of the soil has been below freezing 24 hours a day, and you won't know that without a max/min thermometer. Try to water when the temperature will be above freezing for at least the next 12 hours. This will allow the excess water to drain and/or evaporate before the soil refreezes. This will lessen the pressure on the bonsai pot when the soil freezes, and decrease the chance of a cracked pot.

In the next edition of "Tip of the Week", I'll discuss construction & use of a cold frame.

Interested in past articles? Click for your choice below.

#1-Things to do in the spring

#2-Forest Plantings

#3-Planning a trimming schedule

#4-Trimming Japanese Maples (And other trees with opposing Buds)

#5-Trimming Chinese Elms (And other trees with alternating Buds)

#6-Trimming Conifers (Such as Pine, Juniper and Cypress)

#7-Improving Your Bonsai Skills

#8-Things to Remember During the Winter Months

#9-Some Thoughts About Tree Roots. Their Strengths & Weaknesses

#10-Potting Medium: The Foundation of a Bonsai

#11-Growing Bonsai Under Artificial Light.

#12-The Importance of Moss, How To Get It & Put It On a Bonsai.

#13-The Right Tool For The Job.

#14-Root Over Rock Planting.

#15-Wiring - Copper or Aluminum?

#16-Wiring - Basic Techniques

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