Desert climate and bonsai

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
Hello, I live in Odessa Tx one of the driest places in Texas (west Texas desert climate dust bowl and everything). I moved here from Austin tx where my bonsai were thriving outside. Now I can't leave them outside for more than a couple of hrs without their leaves wilting. I would put them under a tree, unfortunately there are no trees. It is sunshine all day long and the places that do get shade around my house are not ideal to put the bonsai because it's all day shade. the plants will wilt durring the day but then in the evening they start to bounce back up and leaves always die off. I did lose one plant because I thought it needed water everytime it wilted the way they do so I would water it often and it ended up getting root rot and died.does anyone have any tips for growing bonsai in hot sunny dry climate? I do have them inside now and they are doing well but I know they can be doing better. Alot better. I've also started to try desert tree bonsai. Like Persian silk tree mimosa, desert willow, quince...and a couple other succulent. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Especially if I should build a green house to place them in. Although I've had people tell me it's not a good idea to do that with bonsai.
 

BrianBay9

Masterpiece
Messages
2,016
Reaction score
3,347
Location
Marina, CA
USDA Zone
10a
You could build a structure and cover it with shade cloth. Shade cloth comes in different weave densities so you can reduce light by 25%, 50% or 75%, for instance. Couple that with a misting system and you're probably in business. Otherwise you need to shift to species that can tolerate your new environment.
 

AZ Newb

Sapling
Messages
40
Reaction score
76
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
I live in the desert climate as well. I’m still fairly new at this, but tropicals are what I’ve had the best luck with. More specifially, Olives, Bougies, and Portulacaria Afra. I’m great at killing trees, however I just can’t seem to get these species to die.
 

ShadyStump

Masterpiece
Messages
2,470
Reaction score
3,585
Location
Southern Colorado, USA
USDA Zone
6a
I live in the desert climate as well. I’m still fairly new at this, but tropicals are what I’ve had the best luck with. More specifially, Olives, Bougies, and Portulacaria Afra. I’m great at killing trees, however I just can’t seem to get these species to die.
I've killed Siberian elm and money trees. I totally feel you here.

Hello, I live in Odessa Tx one of the driest places in Texas (west Texas desert climate dust bowl and everything). I moved here from Austin tx where my bonsai were thriving outside. Now I can't leave them outside for more than a couple of hrs without their leaves wilting. I would put them under a tree, unfortunately there are no trees. It is sunshine all day long and the places that do get shade around my house are not ideal to put the bonsai because it's all day shade. the plants will wilt durring the day but then in the evening they start to bounce back up and leaves always die off. I did lose one plant because I thought it needed water everytime it wilted the way they do so I would water it often and it ended up getting root rot and died.does anyone have any tips for growing bonsai in hot sunny dry climate? I do have them inside now and they are doing well but I know they can be doing better. Alot better. I've also started to try desert tree bonsai. Like Persian silk tree mimosa, desert willow, quince...and a couple other succulent. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Especially if I should build a green house to place them in. Although I've had people tell me it's not a good idea to do that with bonsai.
If you're not opposed to a tree in the yard, you could try native species that grows fast and is resilient. Cedar elms meet both those requirements, and you can probably find a 10 footer that someone wants removed from their yard. Minimal maintenance/support for a couple years until it takes root well, then it should be able to hold its own with no more than a decent soaking a few times over the summer.
Otherwise, some sort of shade structure as mentioned before. Adding more organic components to your substrate mix- mulch, compost, etc- will help prevent your soil from drying out too fast. If a misting system isn't practicable, we can get very creative with other ways to keep some cool localized humidity going for your trees.
 

Michael P

Chumono
Messages
805
Reaction score
1,115
Location
Dallas, Texas, AHS heat zone 9
USDA Zone
8a
If you are using tap water, that may be contributing to the problems. West Texas tap water is well know for being hard, high pH, and high salt content. You should be able to get a water quality report from your local utility.
 

penumbra

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,847
Reaction score
11,019
Location
Front Royal, VA
USDA Zone
6
I empathize with you problem but have no experience with a climate that arid and hot. The above suggestions seem appropriate but there is much you could do depending upon the types of bonsai you want to keep. First off I would think that using drought and heat tolerant plants would be paramount to your success, and considering larger sized trees that can go longer between soakings.
I shade cloth is an excellent idea but a lath house or pergola would have more charm.
If you water checks out, an irrigation system would be second on my list.
And because I would have both small and large plants and a variety of plants with different needs, I would put in a mist system. This would slow the desiccation , raise the humidity and lower the temperature.

You are right to come here for answers and others with similar situations will pipe in shortly. But also check out your neighborhood. Someone there is likely a bonsai or plant fancier, and there may be a bonsai club not so far away.
I wish you the very best of luck.
 

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
I've killed Siberian elm and money trees. I totally feel you here.


If you're not opposed to a tree in the yard, you could try native species that grows fast and is resilient. Cedar elms meet both those requirements, and you can probably find a 10 footer that someone wants removed from their yard. Minimal maintenance/support for a couple years until it takes root well, then it should be able to hold its own with no more than a decent soaking a few times over the summer.
Otherwise, some sort of shade structure as mentioned before. Adding more organic components to your substrate mix- mulch, compost, etc- will help prevent your soil from drying out too fast. If a misting system isn't practicable, we can get very creative with other ways to keep some cool localized humidity going for your trees.
I would love to put trees up. I just moved here a couple yrs ago and I'm not staying in this house. I would hate to plant a tree that someone will cut down in the future. When we moved in we noticed our neighbor had two peach trees and a cherry tree one of the peach trees was very old it was awesome had good movement a nice canopy the root system was great and then 2 days later they got cut down. I dont know why but people cut trees down here for absolutely no reason grass takes alot of care to grow so people just put stones in their yards or just let the grass die and keep it sandy. Its very windy and when the wind comes huge clouds of dust start rolling in. I've said it often that if people would leave the vegetation alone especially the trees we wouldn't have so much dust. Its horrible.
 

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
You could build a structure and cover it with shade cloth. Shade cloth comes in different weave densities so you can reduce light by 25%, 50% or 75%, for instance. Couple that with a misting system and you're probably in business. Otherwise you need to shift to species that can tolerate your new environment.
I was thinking about building something for them. I just wasnt sure if I should build it like a greenhouse or half a green house? Or maybe like a gazebo type structure. Just because I've had people tell me not to put bonsai in a green house but then I've heard its perfectly fine to do it.
 

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
I empathize with you problem but have no experience with a climate that arid and hot. The above suggestions seem appropriate but there is much you could do depending upon the types of bonsai you want to keep. First off I would think that using drought and heat tolerant plants would be paramount to your success, and considering larger sized trees that can go longer between soakings.
I shade cloth is an excellent idea but a lath house or pergola would have more charm.
If you water checks out, an irrigation system would be second on my list.
And because I would have both small and large plants and a variety of plants with different needs, I would put in a mist system. This would slow the desiccation , raise the humidity and lower the temperature.

You are right to come here for answers and others with similar situations will pipe in shortly. But also check out your neighborhood. Someone there is likely a bonsai or plant fancier, and there may be a bonsai club not so far away.
I wish you the very best of luck.
Thank you. I've had some ideas for what I want to build and a pergola is number one on the list. I do have bonsai that love this climate like the mimosa it's actually a tree that grows everywhere here and desert willow aswell so little by little I'm collecting trees that don't have a problem with drought however I still have my other trees that absolutely hate it. I've lost a couple of them and I had them for more than 15yrs only because I was still attending to them the way I used to in Austin. Also I was watering them with Odessa tap water and that also hurt them the water here is filth I don't even give it to my pets now I'm not watering my plants with it either. It never rains and when it does it pretty much floods so I can collect enough to last a couple of months but then I get a dry spell where I have to water them with Dasani or aquaphina. It gets expensive but I'm willing to sacrifice the money for 20yr old trees...lol
 

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
If you are using tap water, that may be contributing to the problems. West Texas tap water is well know for being hard, high pH, and high salt content. You should be able to get a water quality report from your local utility was the problem at

If you are using tap water, that may be contributing to the problems. West Texas tap water is well know for being hard, high pH, and high salt content. You should be able to get a water quality report from your local utility.
This was the problem at first, and it killed a couple of my trees. I had to repot the rest of them. The water here is awful its horrid and filth. I stopped giving it to my pets too. I noticed how bad it was 3 months after moving here. I noticed white flakes all along the pots and going up the trunks and on the nebari. I wasn't sure what it was till I sent a picture of it to a friend and he told me it was the water. I should have known. I don't even drink the water I had no business giving it to my plants and pets. It rarely rains too. But when it does it floods so I'm able to collect water for maybe about 2 to 3 months but then I hit a dry spell where I have to get bottled water and so far I've noticed they do well with dasani and aquaphina. If there is another water that is best for them please let me know. Any help is very much appreciated.
 

Hartinez

Masterpiece
Messages
3,043
Reaction score
8,070
Location
Albuquerque, NM
USDA Zone
7
Juniper (several varieties will thrive) and you should consider vitex agnus castus or chaste tree. Also known as Texas Lilac. Great leaves, very tough and hardy. Sage brush are pretty hardy. 4 wing salt bush are tough.
 
Messages
481
Reaction score
678
Location
Southwest US z8
USDA Zone
8a
Zone 8a here and regularly 110+ in the summer. I’ll water 3 times a day. My stuff was in the sun from 10-5

im building some benches and when it gets to spring, I’ll start making a roof for shade cloth to keep the sun off them a bit

Your local nursery (not big box store) should have zone appropriate plants. Sages and boxwoods should do ok. Any succulent like P afra will be good. Anything tropical-like will do well like bougainvillea. Some pines do well in heat like Mondell/ Afghan pines. Remember that some plants may need frost protection
 

ShadyStump

Masterpiece
Messages
2,470
Reaction score
3,585
Location
Southern Colorado, USA
USDA Zone
6a
Pines and junipers have been mentioned. Piñon pines and one seed junipers are very hardy to hot dry climates, but I've conclude that pinus edulus- two needle piñon- likes water more than you'd expect. One seeds, or the- close cousin, Utah juniper- are pretty much built for hot, extreme wet/dry cycles. Should do well.

I like the pergola idea, but it's not cheap. A sturdy shade structure will do for now if you might have to move it later on. A basic drip system will be cheap and help plenty. Run a section over the top of a series of cloths hanging down the sides of the shade structure maybe. It will wet the cloths, then as the wind blows through, the air will be cooled and humidified. Not as pretty with rags blowing on the breeze, but effective.
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,067
Reaction score
9,593
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
We have hot, dry summers. Not sure how that compares with Odessa but I have an overhead structure that I can put shade cloth over the trees in the heat of summer. Shade is NOT the issue, DEPTH of shade is the issue. I use 35% shade cloth with no problem. A lot of readily available shade cloth is 70% or 80% which is too much for most of the trees we use for bonsai.
In the absence of natural trees for shade a structure is essential. Well designed structure has the advantage of knowing how deep the shade will be and for what hours of the day. You have the option of working out how costly, substantial or permanent the structure will be.
If lighter cloth is not available try to design for more morning sun to balance deeper afternoon shade.
Different species require different conditions. Try species that are more adapted to the local climate but also arrange them under the structure to take advantage of the amount of shade so sun lovers are close to the edges where they get more daily sun while more shade tolerant species are in positions that get more water and more daily shade.

Good luck with solving the issues your location and circumstances have dealt.
 

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
Pergola sounds good, open on all sides. Greenhouse or anything with glass or a solid top will collect heat when the breeze stops.
That's what I was told, a green house would basically be too hot for the trees. I think a purgula would be great for them. Thank you
 

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
Juniper (several varieties will thrive) and you should consider vitex agnus castus or chaste tree. Also known as Texas Lilac. Great leaves, very tough and hardy. Sage brush are pretty hardy. 4 wing salt bush are tough.
I've had juniper in the past in Austin and they did well for a while then I killed them somehow. I should try to give it another shot in this climate. I've actually been thinking about Texas lilac I had some in my yard in Austin and the aroma of the flowers was awesome that would be an awesome bonsai. I even have seeds from one of the trees I had. I should germinate them and see how that goes. Sage I've had aswell and it just didn't do it for me. I ended up planting it in the ground and left it in Austin it got out of hand real quick...lol...I've never heard of 4 wing salt bush...I'll have to look that up...thank you for the ideas. Much appreciated.
 

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
Zone 8a here and regularly 110+ in the summer. I’ll water 3 times a day. My stuff was in the sun from 10-5

im building some benches and when it gets to spring, I’ll start making a roof for shade cloth to keep the sun off them a bit

Your local nursery (not big box store) should have zone appropriate plants. Sages and boxwoods should do ok. Any succulent like P afra will be good. Anything tropical-like will do well like bougainvillea. Some pines do well in heat like Mondell/ Afghan pines. Remember that some plants may need frost protection
I had a mugo pine that did well in Austin then died in Odessa...I think it had alot to do with watering it like I was still in Austin. I've wanted a pine since the other died...thank you for the pine species I'll definitely look into them. I have 5 bougenvillea now and they love it here. I also baought a P Afra here in odessa aswell thinking I wouldn't have to water it so often and it would love the heat and dryness but it turned gray then brown then imploded maybe it had too much sun? I would water it but not often it did the same thing my aloe plants were doing till I moved them to a shadier part of the front yard. I wish I could do that to my bonsai because the front yard has perfect sun and shade ratio but people love to steal plants and bonsai here...I had a giant passion vine that would give me flowers the size of my hand and fruit the size of my fist...and it was stolen. Including a plumeria I had from a friend that got it in Hawaii about 30 yrs ago. She got huge in a pot I used to trim pieces off and give them out especially to people that would inquire about the tree. Someone came and broke her from the bottom and took off with it one night. She hasn't grown back since. Luckily I had another clone of her that somehow grew different color flowers than the mother. The mother is yellow and the flowers to the cuttings are pink. I thought that was odd. Anyway...thank you for the plant species that is much appreciated and helpful definitely ones I'm going to look into aswell. Also we don't have but two nurseries here, we used to have three but one closed down and is now becoming a Rosa's cafe. Not worth losing the nursery for, that's forsure. And the others have plants just not any that are worth training for bonsai. Maybe an olive tree or a fig tree but that's about it. The rest are basically grass and fruit trees and not any I would be willing to train. Not because I'm not interested I'm just not interested in the species of fruit trees they have. If I'm going to train an apple tree it's going to be an apple tree not a crab apple tree...lol
 

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
Pines and junipers have been mentioned. Piñon pines and one seed junipers are very hardy to hot dry climates, but I've conclude that pinus edulus- two needle piñon- likes water more than you'd expect. One seeds, or the- close cousin, Utah juniper- are pretty much built for hot, extreme wet/dry cycles. Should do well.

I like the pergola idea, but it's not cheap. A sturdy shade structure will do for now if you might have to move it later on. A basic drip system will be cheap and help plenty. Run a section over the top of a series of cloths hanging down the sides of the shade structure maybe. It will wet the cloths, then as the wind blows through, the air will be cooled and humidified. Not as pretty with rags blowing on the breeze, but effective.
I pretty much have the lumber to build it already from a failed gazebo...lol...and a cali king size bed that the frame was made of raw wood. I have an idea for the purgula using both types of wood. But if I were to build a shade structure using the wet cloth idea do you think that instead of wet cloth I could make the cloth taut or used some thick opaque plastic like they use in greenhouses partly around the structure and place a couple of humidifiers inside? Or would that be a waste? Or do you think maybe cloth is better than the plastic? Thank you for the idea tho. Very much appreciated.
 

Seraphim01

Seedling
Messages
19
Reaction score
10
Location
Odessa,tx
USDA Zone
8a
We have hot, dry summers. Not sure how that compares with Odessa but I have an overhead structure that I can put shade cloth over the trees in the heat of summer. Shade is NOT the issue, DEPTH of shade is the issue. I use 35% shade cloth with no problem. A lot of readily available shade cloth is 70% or 80% which is too much for most of the trees we use for bonsai.
In the absence of natural trees for shade a structure is essential. Well designed structure has the advantage of knowing how deep the shade will be and for what hours of the day. You have the option of working out how costly, substantial or permanent the structure will be.
If lighter cloth is not available try to design for more morning sun to balance deeper afternoon shade.
Different species require different conditions. Try species that are more adapted to the local climate but also arrange them under the structure to take advantage of the amount of shade so sun lovers are close to the edges where they get more daily sun while more shade tolerant species are in positions that get more water and more daily shade.

Good luck with solving the issues your location and circumstances have dealt.
Pretty much the same weather here, very hot and very dry. Austin weather was humid and there were actually trees to give them the shade they needed. Never lost a bonsai in Austin and had aerial roots like crazy every yr. There were even some trees I had that would get them and I didn't even know they could get them...lol...the summer gets HOT the fall is cooler but still hot and winter is iffy like sometimes it's 80's and sometimes it's teens and sometimes it's negative. Our winter last yr was the worst in Texas. And I have heard it's going to happen again this yr. But right now at 6pm in the evening it is 92° and it feels like it. Also, where do I go about finding this cloth? The only thing I've ever seen here is plastics. And tarps. Except for some canvas cloth I've seen at old hobby lobby...but if I were to build a structure for the bonsai would the way to go about it be like building half a greenhouse or more like a gazebo? I guess I'll have to look it up I can't rely on people doin my work for me now...lol...thank you for being so informative much appreciated.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom