Buttonwood in Socal?

tnaz71

Yamadori
Messages
77
Reaction score
1
Location
Southern California
USDA Zone
9
I have been asked to adopt a medium sized buttonwood that is currently in Florida. My question is how hard will it be to get it to thrive in this climate? I live in zone 9b, so the summer's wont be an issue but during the winter months it can be 30's-40's quite a lot.

I read that they can be moved indoors and would probably do well with artifical lighting. I have a rather large aquarium so I am thinking of placing it next to that if/when I have to bring it in that way it will get lots of light, but not sure if that would be sufficent? I can always get lighting just for the plant if need be.

I just want to make sure before I agree on this that it wont hurt the plant in the long run.

Thanks all
 

Kirk

Mame
Messages
181
Reaction score
10
Location
Atlanta
USDA Zone
8a
I think your adopted Buttonwood would be very unhappy indoors unless it were in a greenhouse with full sun. They really love heat, humidity and full sun. I have mine in a glass greenhouse with a full sun exposure and a temp of about 80F. It's growing like gang-busters. It is placed in the greenhouse as soon as night temps begin to fall into the 60s.

If you didn't have a warm greenhouse then growlights a few inches from the leaves or a high pressure sodium lamp may suffice when the outdoor temps won't sustain it. I would also sit the pot on stones with a humidity tray. If your house is still cool during the winter, a rubber propagation mat would help to keep its feet warm.

B'woods tend to linger for a while when they stay too cool and eventually expire from "failure to thrive".

Kirk
 

Attila Soos

Omono
Messages
1,804
Reaction score
33
Location
Los Angeles (Altadena), CA
USDA Zone
9
Sounds like a lot of work to keep one tree happy..
And it also takes away time and resources from other trees that would be perfectly happy in your current environment. I guess, the question is: how special is that buttonwood to you? If it is extremely special, then it may be worth it. But if it is just another tree, then it's not worth.
 

Kirk

Mame
Messages
181
Reaction score
10
Location
Atlanta
USDA Zone
8a
Sounds like a lot of work to keep one tree happy..
And it also takes away time and resources from other trees that would be perfectly happy in your current environment. I guess, the question is: how special is that buttonwood to you? If it is extremely special, then it may be worth it. But if it is just another tree, then it's not worth.
Well said. I wouldn't have tried one had I not already had a greenhouse for it. It's not the easiest of tropical species. I also wouldn't have attempted an indoor set-up with lamps, trays, heat pads... It's like trying to keep something on life support.

A possible solution would be setting up a trade with someone in S. CA who has a greenhouse and wants a buttonwood. A nice specimen could be traded for a conifer or some other species that likes that climate year round.

Best always,
Kirk
 

tnaz71

Yamadori
Messages
77
Reaction score
1
Location
Southern California
USDA Zone
9
Thanks all for the replies. It was my dad's but he passed when I was very young and, he gave it to his brother. He is now currently looking to find someone to take it due to him having health issues. Only one in my family now that has any knowledge of keeping bonsai is me.

I should have ample time to get the indoor issues fixed since warmer weather is aproaching. Mini greenhouse, propagating mat, light to keep it happy. I have been reading a lot on its care over the last week or so. I found a post (cant find it now of course) that said someone in NJ or there abouts had buttonwoods thriving indoors.

As far as outside do you think it would be best to put it in a greenhouse out there also? The humidity here is usually very low in the summer so I am assuming I will have to find someway to keep it up for the plant. Guess a mini greenhouse outside isnt a bad thing to have either way. Man-o-man is my wife going to kill me if I spend too much to keep this thing happy. :eek:

It does seem like a lot to keep one plant happy/healthy but it would be nice to have it in my collection for memory sake & one day pass it to my kids.

Thanks again
 

Kirk

Mame
Messages
181
Reaction score
10
Location
Atlanta
USDA Zone
8a
Due to the sentimental value of the tree, you may want to give it a shot. It's not impossible to keep the tree alive if you don't have a greenhouse. A bay window with lots of sun, a humidity tray and propagation mat would probably keep it supported through a fairly short winter. If you invest in a greenhouse, it will need to be heated consistantly through the winter. I prefer electric. If the power goes out, the tree would need to come in. Additional humidity would need to be provided. Watering the floor every day usually does the trick.

During the summer, I would place the tree outside on some type of water tray with stones. You often see this done at nurseries with lots of mame or shohin size trees. It provides lots of humidity and helps cut down on constant watering. Keeping a small greenhouse cooled in the summer is a challange. You almost need to completely open them up. If that is the case, then you are better off just placing the trees outside.

Keep us updated.

Best,
Kirk
 

Attila Soos

Omono
Messages
1,804
Reaction score
33
Location
Los Angeles (Altadena), CA
USDA Zone
9
In that case, you should consider building a hoop house on your own. It will cost you a few hundred dollars and it's very easy to build. If you are into bonsai anyway, this will give you the means to grow cuttings, protect freshly collected bonsai from drying out, growing other tropical species, et. You can keep the air humid by having trays of water under the benches, all around the greenhouse. And of course, you can add a mister that comes on every couple of hours or so.

If you Google "building a hoop house, you will get many hits, here is a good one:

http://www.albertahomegardening.com/how-to-build-an-inexpensive-hoop-style-greenhouse/

I plan to do the same, since I already had a greenhouse here in Los Angeles, but due to the UV radiation, the small greenhouse simply fell apart after 3 years of use. I need to replace it with a new one, since my ficus, fukien tea, sageretia, shefflera, and orchids, love it.

BTW, it's easy to keep it cool in the summer by using a shade cloth, a fan, and keeping the windows open. The larger the size of the greenhouse, the easier to keep it cool. The link I provided has a decent size for a backyard greenhouse, but you can make it much shorter. The height is more important for keeping it cool, since the warm air rises to the ceiling.
 
Last edited:

Attila Soos

Omono
Messages
1,804
Reaction score
33
Location
Los Angeles (Altadena), CA
USDA Zone
9
Keeping a small greenhouse cooled in the summer is a challange. You almost need to completely open them up. If that is the case, then you are better off just placing the trees outside.

Kirk
It is not as bad as it may seem. I have one in my backyard, and with a small fan, humidity trays, and keeping 4 windows open (in addition, covered with a shade cloth that blocks out 40% of sun), it worked perfectly well. I just turn on the fan in the morning, and turn it off in the evening. I used two small fans, just in case one goes out during the day.

In So. California, the air is too dry for a buttonwood. Without a greenhouse, the tree will not thrive, and I suspect that it will slowly decline within a few years, and eventually die. I had the same problem with orchids: the temperature was OK, but the humidity was not.
 
Last edited:
Messages
954
Reaction score
2
Location
HELL
It gets into the 30's and 40's here alot as well... Listen bring the plant in when it is going to drop below 40's and back out in the day when the temps rise... That's what I have to do here in tampa. Try not to leave it inside for more than 2 days max, make sure what ever room you are putting it in you close the vents, so the heat doesn't dry it out. The trick is with any tropical, is that cold wheather is ok, freezing/frost is Bad. Besides that, when I lived in los angeles, I use to see ficus all over the place, and they simillar, just feed the buttonwood more water. They like their feet wet, I've seen them growing in water like bald cypress. I have a cypress I collected out of one of the marshes here, that for the last five years has been growing in tub filled with water and spagnum moss, no soil what so ever, in the full blazing sun and it loves it. So who knows you might have to be a little creative... other wise you could give it to me... Good Luck!
 

Gandalph

Yamadori
Messages
80
Reaction score
0
Location
Alton, IL
USDA Zone
6a
I have grown Buttonwoods successfully inside in Illinois under a 4 bulb T5 unit setup. Feed with Miracle Grow for acid loving plants during the week, and "straight" water on the weekends to flush the salts.

My setup provides heat for the Buttonwoods from the lighting fixture installed underneath the shelf the trees are sitting on. I have a four shelf setup.

I will stop short of saying they thrive with this setup, but I have to prune them every year when they go outside :)
 

tnaz71

Yamadori
Messages
77
Reaction score
1
Location
Southern California
USDA Zone
9
Thank you all for the info, I sort of just left this post hanging I guess. I decided to not take this tree even though I wanted to. I figured it was best left in that climate so it would thrive instead of just live out it's life struggling & unhappy under a grow light. They sold it locally to someone who had many & had the knowledge to take care of the plant.
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
S First buttonwood Tropicals 12
S XL Buttonwood Tropicals 3
S 200lb Buttonwood Tropicals 15
M Holes in Buttonwood Leaves General Discussion 2
S Collected Buttonwood - First Styling Tropicals 9
Similar threads





Top Bottom