Tip of the Week #26
Wintering Temperate & Sub-Tropical
What Needs What?
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 Paul@bonsaiofbrooklyn.com
Please let me know if I can include your first name and city if your topic
Interested in past articles? There's a list at the bottom of the page.
|Mike from North East Pennsylvania is considering getting his first bonsai,
but he's confused (like most beginners) about wintering bonsai. He's
done some reading, and that seems to have confused him further. The
following is in answer to his latest e-mail to me. If you're
confused about wintering maybe this will help a little.
Wintering bonsai is confusing, like most unfamiliar things in life.
As with most other things, as you learn how they "work" the confusion subsides
as your knowledge of the subject increases. All bonsai should
be outdoors from spring to fall if possible. They'll do better
there, and in most cases you'll be at work all day, so why keep them
inside if you won't be there to see them anyway? If there's
no outdoors place available to you, do the best you can to provide them
with good sun and air circulation indoors, then read "Tip of The Week
#19" for information about wintering.
Trees can be broken into 3 groups.First, there's Temperate
trees which need temperatures near or below freezing in winter. Second
there's Sub-Tropical bonsai which cannot survive freezing in winter.
Within these groups, there are trees
that like different temperature ranges. Some Temperate Trees such
as Japanese White Pine do best when kept between 20 & 40 degrees in winter. Some,
such as Chinese Elm do best when kept between 30 & 50 in winter. Some
Sub Tropicals such as Serissa can take a light frost (no lower than 30,
and for a few hours only) but would prefer to go no lower than 50. Some,
such as Buttonwood should never go below 50, and would prefer to always
be in the 70's. Most trees can take temperatures a little
above or below their preferred range, but they won't like it quite as
much. There is information on the internet about winter care
for just about any species of tree. Just put the name into
your favorite search engine, and sort through the results until you find
a page that answers your questions. If you're still not confused,
try this! There are trees such as Dwarf Japanese Juniper or Kingsville
Boxwood which can be buried beneath 2 feet of snow all winter, or kept
on a windowsill that never goes below 50 degrees. Many others
have a much narrower "winter comfort range."
A sub tropical tree like the Natal Plum cannot be kept outside during
the winter in Pennsylvania, but can be kept outside in an area where
the temperature never goes below 50. In other words, your
climate determines how long a particular bonsai can stay outdoors. Your
desire to have one does not.
If all that's clear, consider another factor about wintering bonsai
outdoors in cold climates. If you plant a tree that's native to
your climate in the ground in spring, the roots will have grown
below the frost line by winter. The frost line is the depth to
which the ground will freeze in the coldest winter your area is
likely to see. No matter how cold it gets, some roots will be in
moist ground, and be able to bring water to the parts of the tree
that have lost moisture from the wind. A bonsai in one to three
inches of soil has no such luxury. Once the soil in the pot freezes,
there's no moisture available. If it stays below freezing for a
few days & nights
in a row, the tree could be irreparably damaged For that
reason, it's important to protect the bonsai in cold climate. Ways
of doing that are found in articles #17, 18 & 19 in this section.
The main thing is to come to terms with the fact that you're not
going to learn everything there is to know about The Art of Bonsai
in general or wintering in particular today, or this year, or in
this lifetime. I've been at this hobby since 1964, and I still
learn new things almost every day. About 30 years ago I had the
honor to work as a volunteer with Frank Okamura, the curator of
the Bonsai collection at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and one of
the most respected Bonsai Masters in the world. We were discussing
bonsai care and I referred to him as "an expert." He
looked at me and said "there are no experts", meaning that no one
learns everything there is to know about trees. This from a man
who had spent years in Japan studying under the greatest bonsai
minds on the planet, then over 40 years in charge of one of the
greatest Bonsai collections. No matter how much you learn, there's
tons more you will never know. The idea is to know a little more
today than you knew yesterday. Learn as you go. Learn
the basics first. Read bonsai books, watch bonsai videos. Join
a bonsai club or society. If there's none in your town, start
one. If you get confused about something, ask someone whose
knowledge you respect for help. If they know the answer, you
will have learned a little more. If they don't, you'll feel
a little better about not knowing yourself.
Interested in past articles? Click for your choice below.
#1-Things to do in the spring
#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
#17-Using A Cold Frame, Garage, or Tool Shed For Wintering
#18-Making A Cold Frame For Wintering Temperate Bonsai.
#19-Wintering Temperate Bonsai Indoors.
#21-Sunlight - Some Further Thoughts.
#22-Is It Really A Tree?
#23-Repotting a "Department Store" Bonsai
#25-Getting Started: Too Much Too Soon?
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