Alpine species: Indoor or Outdoor?

Cerauno

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I live in Montana, USA, in the Northern Rocky Mountains. I've been attempting to grow three seedlings which I took out of the "wild" (if you can call around my neighborhood wild), all of which are native subalpine/alpine trees.

I have two Rocky Mountain Maple babies, and a tiny Douglas fir. I planted them last September and brought all three inside in November when it started getting seriously cold.

One of the maples is doing very well, already sprouting new buds. The Douglas fir is also doing well, but no new growth other than a few needles. The other maple hasn't done well, and may be on its way out already, despite my best efforts.

But my question is, should I move these plants back outside permanently in the spring? Or at some point down the line? The fir in particular is one hardy piece of work, and I can't see it thriving indoors for long. What is the ideal time to make the switch?
 

moke

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I would wait to take them out until the possibility of freezing temps has passed, since you have had them indoors all winter they are most likely not equiped for freezing temps. After that tell them to pack their bags and move outside!!
 

JosephCooper

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Wait maybe mid-spring, then take outside permanently.
 

River's Edge

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I live in Montana, USA, in the Northern Rocky Mountains. I've been attempting to grow three seedlings which I took out of the "wild" (if you can call around my neighborhood wild), all of which are native subalpine/alpine trees.

I have two Rocky Mountain Maple babies, and a tiny Douglas fir. I planted them last September and brought all three inside in November when it started getting seriously cold.

One of the maples is doing very well, already sprouting new buds. The Douglas fir is also doing well, but no new growth other than a few needles. The other maple hasn't done well, and may be on its way out already, despite my best efforts.

But my question is, should I move these plants back outside permanently in the spring? Or at some point down the line? The fir in particular is one hardy piece of work, and I can't see it thriving indoors for long. What is the ideal time to make the switch?
Protect from freezing, outdoors gradually when warmer to harden them off. In your neck of the woods, likely after the long weekend in May;)
Then outdoors permanently!
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Any tree or shrub native to your area needs a long cold rest in winter in order to grow normally. It takes over one month for a tree to build winter hardiness in autumn, so don't put them outside until after danger of frost has passed, but once outside, the species you listed need to stay outside. Never bring them indoors for more than a few hours at a time, especially in winter. Once cold, they need to stay cold.
 

Cerauno

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Thanks for all the helpful replies! I'm now planning to take them back outside after the last snowfall, which could be anywhere from April to early June (Montana weather is notoriously unpredictable).

Hopefully these suckers will do well once it warms up, and I can take some pictures of their progress.
 

GailC

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Thanks for all the helpful replies! I'm now planning to take them back outside after the last snowfall, which could be anywhere from April to early June (Montana weather is notoriously unpredictable).

Hopefully these suckers will do well once it warms up, and I can take some pictures of their progress.
I'm your neighbor over the mountains in Idaho.
Native species are great and should always be tough but if you are looking for something else cold hardy, check out amur maples and crab apples.
I have both and just sit them under a tree for the winter, doesn't phase them at all.
 

Potawatomi13

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Should NEVER be kept in house except day or two for display. If in cool garage(OK)be sure kept H2O'd;).
 

rockm

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I live in Montana, USA, in the Northern Rocky Mountains. I've been attempting to grow three seedlings which I took out of the "wild" (if you can call around my neighborhood wild), all of which are native subalpine/alpine trees.

I have two Rocky Mountain Maple babies, and a tiny Douglas fir. I planted them last September and brought all three inside in November when it started getting seriously cold.

One of the maples is doing very well, already sprouting new buds. The Douglas fir is also doing well, but no new growth other than a few needles. The other maple hasn't done well, and may be on its way out already, despite my best efforts.

But my question is, should I move these plants back outside permanently in the spring? Or at some point down the line? The fir in particular is one hardy piece of work, and I can't see it thriving indoors for long. What is the ideal time to make the switch?
The species are native to your region and have been growing there in the wild for a very very long time withstanding extreme weather.

Just because you put them in a pot, doesn't make them houseplants unable to deal with those conditions. This is a common mistake by people just starting out in bonsai.

Inside they face extreme conditions--low humidity, high heat (in the winter season) and extremely low light. Those conditions will kill them eventually, as you're seeing with the maple.

I'd get them back outside as soon as possible--once the danger of frost and freezing has passed. If you put them (especially the maple) back outside now, you risk their deaths. Once temperate trees resume active growth--leaf extention--after winter dormancy, they have lost mostly all of their ability to withstand frozen roots.
 

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