Cold and Satsukis

Dav4

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I recently purchased a nice imported Satsuki azalea at New England Bonsai Gardens...it's currently recovering from it's bare rooting/shipping at the nursery so no pics right now. My question concerns over wintering and the degree of cold these plants may tolerate. I know they are rated USDA zone 7, meaning they can be exposed to temps approaching 0F as landscape trees. I would assume potted Satsukis would tolerate temps below freezing if the pot was mulched. However, most sources on Satsuki bonsai recommend against frost exposure. So, I'm a bit confused about how to over winter these trees. I'll be moving to Atlanta, hopefully in the next few months, so winters won't be quite as harsh as they are here in New England...it still falls into the mid to low teens and even colder down there. Any advice/insight would be appreciated,

Dave
 

october

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Hi Dave,

So you are moving.....I was wondering if you still where..... I know that satsuki's don't like extreme cold... They told me at NE Bonsia a while back that the satsuki's that are in the warmer green house in winter do better than the others.. I believe they also said that the cold killed a few of them. I might be remembering incorrectly though..

In my opinion. I would not let the tree be in temps under 32 degrees for long periods of time.. I keep my mame/shohin in temps around 39-48 degrees in the winter and it does very well. However, my tree is very small, around 4 inches. I would imagine that a larger tree could take more.

There is one important thing though. I saw and actually repotted some of those magnificent azaleas at NE Bonsai a couple of weeks ago... Trees with that amount of stress should be well protected and babied. All the azaleas I saw where really stressed to the max from customs, the quarantine, neglect etc..... If it where mine. I would baby it this season and the next and not expose it to any real harsh cold for this season and possible the next.

I hope this is helpful..

Rob
 
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Hi Dave,
I agree with Rob. I spoke with Hitoshi and Mr. Tsukada about this very topic and they were pretty clear that mid 30's would be best for these trees under normal conditions (this is minimum temperature at the low end of the winter spectrum). In their native environment in Japan (where these came from) in Mr. Tsukada's nursery, the average monthly low is 28 degrees F (-2 C). He is a bit north of Tokyo so it might get a tad colder but not much. He keeps them in unprotected cold frames so they don't really get below freezing. That is with healthy trees - as Rob said, these came in bare rooted, are stressed and should be baby'd for one winter. One thing in your favor is that the Atlanta area is much closer to the climate in that part of Japan than is Massachusetts.
This is assuming you ARE moving ......
;-)
John Romano
 

Dav4

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Thanks guys. I really appreciate the input. It always seemed odd that these trees are considered hardy to zone 7 and yet are treated almost like semi-tropicals in regards to winter cold. I can't argue with experience, though. If the trees kept in the heated greenhouse do better, there must be something to it. As far as moving goes, If I am ever to live with my wife again, I will have to sell my house;)....Someone is coming to look at my house tomorrow morning...second timer:)...fingers crossed. Hope to see you guys in a few weeks,

Dave
 
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Another thing to keep in mind is that there are hundreds of varieties of azaleas (even within the satsuki label) and the zone tolerance varies considerably among them. We have, in Southern RI, one of the oldest azalea gardens in the US started in about 1915 by a horticulture professor at University of RI. He collected many cultivar cuttings (many directly from Japan) and planted them in this garden. A wonderful place to visit in May! The curator tells me that some of the species are somewhat weak in our area - even in the ground (Southern RI is zone 6A-6B). They get die back most winters. They were planted in more protected areas of the garden and many survive nonetheless. While there area varieties that are very cold hardy and do fine.
John
 

Martin Sweeney

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Dav4,

I hae been growing satsuki azalea in the Charlotte, NC. area in the landscape and as bonsai for many years now. I have never had one die because of the cold. I mulch the bonsai out of the wind( from the west and north) as best I can and make sure they never dry out during the winter. They are placed in the same area as everything else (pines, junipers, maples, elms, etc) and have their pots covered with leaves. We get lows in the teens and occasional single digit nights (I know living in the South is tough).

I have never lived in Atlanta, but suspect that the same would work there. Would offering additional protection for your tree be advisable? It couldn't hurt. Also, I would think october and John Romano's advice would be prudent if a particular tree has been stressed.

You may need to think about summer protection for all your trees, if you are moving to a sunny yard. Full sun in the South is a whole different thing than full sun up north. April usually brings the first days in the 90's, certainly mid-May will. You may need to be careful about watering and exposure. Depending on the timing, this may be a shock to your trees. For instance, there may be some trees that you currently grow in full sun in Massachusetts that may wither in full sun in Atlanta.

I hope the move goes well. We certainly need more Red Sox fans down here! Too many Yankee fans, at least here in Charlotte.

Regards,
Martin
 

Dav4

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Thanks, Martin. It's great getting advice from you considering your proximity to Atlanta and experience with Satsukis. I'm always cautious with new tree specimens as well as species I've never worked with, so I'm going to baby this one...It's sweet:D!!!. I appreciate the advice about sun exposure as well. I had hoped to move before now:mad:, but no such luck, and I will probably move during the heat of the summer, too:mad:. I plan to keep my trees in part to mostly shade (if possible) for a few weeks after I move. Most of my trees are junipers and pines, so they will most likely do OK with the change in climate. By the way, the comment about the Red Sox was unexpected, but most welcome...sorry about the Yankee fans...just don't make eye contact and you should be fine:D. Thanks again,

Dave
 

Martin Sweeney

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Dav4,

Sounds like you have thought things through pretty well. Hopefully you will be comfortably settled in come October and will be able to attend the Carolinas Bonsai Expo in Asheville at the North Carolina Arboretum. It is worth the trip, although their website doesn't do the their Bonsai program justice.

If you are passing through the Charlotte area, Randy Clark's Bonsai Learning Center, Mark Torpa's Growing Grounds and Campbell's Nursery are must visits. Also, the Raleigh area has Steve Pilacik's Matsu-Momijii Bonsai Nursery.

Hopefully, some Georgia enthusiasts will chime in with some of their favorite places as well.

Regards,
Martin
 

Dav4

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Thanks again, Martin. Getting up to Asheville is definitely on my "to do" list. Thanks also for the list of nurseries. I'm sure I'll get to visit some if not all of them eventually,

Dave
 

FrankP999

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Dave

I live south of Atlanta. I agree with Martin about southern sun and heat. I keep my azaela where they get morning sun only.

As far as places to visit, the Monastery in Conyers, GA is worth a visit. They have some pre-bonsai material, some finished bonsai, and a good selection of tools and supplies.

Frank
 

Dav4

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Thanks Frank,

I visited Atlanta with my wife In late September of last year prior to committing to the move. We visited the Monastery the day we left. We didn't realize it at the time, but the nursery was actually closed while we were walking around and wouldn't officially open for another hour...I was wondering why the brothers working there were giving us funny looks...:eek:. They were nice though and politely asked us to leave until the nursery actually opened for business later that morning...Pushy Northerners!!!:eek:

Dave
 

Graydon

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We certainly need more Red Sox fans down here! Too many Yankee fans, at least here in Charlotte.

Go Rays! Sorry, after that Yankee rout tonight (15-5) I couldn't resist. Did I mention we raised the 2008 AL pennant at home tonight?

I hope it all works out and welcome to the south. I believe your azaleas will do just fine. Summer sun can be a bit rough.
 

Kirk

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Joe Harris just did an extensive Satsuki workshop and demo for the Atlanta Bonsai Society. He stressed the point that the USDA hardiness rating was for in-ground plant material. Root damage in a container would occur at 18 degrees F. Our winters in the ATL area seldom dip below 18 but it does happen (sometimes unexpectedly after a moderate day). Heeling the azalea in or giving it a cold frame will help insure survival.

Kirk
 

Dav4

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Kirk, thanks for the input. I plan to mulch most of my trees as a precaution this coming winter. Depending on where we end up, I may have other options for the azalea like an enclosed breezeway or 3 season porch...we will see.

Graydon, you probably remember that the Rays knocked the Sox out of the play-offs last fall:(. I still can't believe they lost to the Phillies:p(I did pull for them in the series). They're a good team, though, with a ton of young talent. I anticipate Red Sox/Rays series like I used to with the Yankees. Hopefully the fan base for them improves this year...I hear that has been an issue in the not too distant past.


Dave
 

Bill S

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Congrats on the sale Dav, my chime in is I keep mine on my enclosed breezway for the winter here in W. Mass, it will usually stay between 30 and 38 but this winter it stayed a little colded longer so I believe the couple I have saw 25 a couple of times, and have done fine. I do remember Hitoshi saying not to go below 25F. .
 
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