Early repotting

jk_lewis

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I know I'll probably regret it, but we have a beautiful warm day today, and I couldn't resist repotting a privet clump. I'll probably be running inside and outside and inside and outside with it for the next three weeks.
 

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FrankP999

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I had 70 degree weather here in GA today and I had the spring fever bug also. I repotted a small black pine seedling and wired the trunk for the first time.

Frank
 

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rockm

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I f you live north of North Carolina, it's best to ignore the "spring fever" thing at least for another couple of weeks. If you don't have a frost free environment to store recently repotted trees you will have difficulty when the weather turns bad again. Given this brutal winter, I don't think the cold is gone for good yet.
 

jk_lewis

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I agree . . . even in NC. I live in the Blue Ridge foothills and we can have freezes until mid April, so I know this'll be moving in and out. But when the weather is SO nice . . . :D
 

digger714

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Hey, im just north of charlotte. Does that mean i can start? lol, i already have. i know we will have another couple freezes also, but cant help it. only starting my second year, and havent learned the hardest part of bonsai yet. My wife might leave me if i dont get her parking spot cleared out in the garage. Its suppose to be in the low twenties by the end of the week. Good luck.
 

rockm

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"Hey, im just north of charlotte. Does that mean i can start? lol, i already have. i know we will have another couple freezes also, but cant help it. only starting my second year, and havent learned the hardest part of bonsai yet. My wife might leave me if i dont get her parking spot cleared out in the garage. Its suppose to be in the low twenties by the end of the week. Good luck."

Some people have to learn the hard way:rolleyes: :D Asking if it's ok to something after you've done it won't do your trees any good...:D Now is not a great time to be repotting trees in the Middle Atlantic states--especially in a really bad winter like this one. Exposing roots to warmish air is like adding gasoline to a fire--dormant temperate trees are triggered to exit dormancy by ground temperature. Removing soil in the sun and exposing roots to above freezing air, revvs up the trees engine, forcing it from any dormancy and into active growth. Now is the time to try and keep your trees as cold as possible for as long as possible to get past the last stretch of winter.

March can be a very very bad month. And, to let you in on a secret--April is one of the most challenging for bonsai, since late freezes and frosts can kill off new roots and newly emerged foliage very very easily--by then most deciduous trees have lost their winter hardness. Those late cold snaps can have a much deeper impact on your bonsai than even the deep cold of early Feb...They are prepared for the Feb. cold. An April freeze not so much...

A very large part of bonsai is about patience and discipline in knowing what to do and when to do it. It is about tuning out personal impulses and focusing on what the tree requires.
 

Bill S

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VERY well said rockm, everyone should go back and read the previous post again, especially the last line.
 

jk_lewis

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I don't mind moving them around. Cold weather only lasts for a couple of days at a time this time of year. We're expecting 2 inches of snow tonite and tomorrow. I've had snow on the ground here since 2 weeks before Christmas. Unheard of around here.
 

digger714

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I was mainly joking about having the itch already. The one post stated that north of north carolina should wait, so i was jokingly asking if it was ok to start repotting since i am close to charlotte. What do the trees do when we have years that it doesnt freeze for more than a few hours a night? Ive been wondering how they are affected being so much different than other areas of the country. Do they just adapt to each climate? I do have a question about roots being exposed to warmer air. I guess i have been getting different information from the people that grow around this area. Our ground does not ever freeze for more than 1/2" down. Typically it is thawed out by 10-11 am. There might not be temps below 35 for weeks at a time. Ive been told that it is ok to plant anytime the ground is not frozen. Most of my trees are in the ground. I do have 3 trees in growing containers that are ready to be pruned for finished bonsai pots. These i wouldnt think of moving out of the north side of my house. i dont get any sun there, and have mulch around them up to the bottom branches. These trees will not move until my instructor says its time to start getting them out. I dont have any other trees to repot but is it ok to be putting trees into the ground at this time? Most of what i have are seedlings, or nursery stock that i am wanting to grow into larger trees, but have more than 5 years each. Our temps are getting down to 25-30 at night and up to 50 in the day now. Thanks for any help.
 
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digger714

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I have learned that trees need to have below 40 degrees for at least 60 days straight. Im sure i dont have the numbers exact, but we have never had those kinds of temps here. As i stated, we will get down below freezing, but always gets into the mid 40's during the day. Sometimes into the 50's. I work outside, and so i have really learned the weather, and we might have a week or two sometimes that it stays below 40, but never an extended period of time. Do trees just adapt to the area? What about bringing trees from different climates? Should you try to imitate a slow progression into a different climate. with refrigerators or such? Or keep warmer if coming from a warmer climate like california or florida? Should you only purchase trees from your local climate?This post has brought up thoughts i have always had, even before bonsai.
 

rockm

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You are confusing what's right for in-ground trees and what's possible for containerized trees. Winter is much different for the two.

As for the mechanics of how trees overwinter, Brent Walston's website has an extremely well written articles on this.

http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/overwint.htm

Your blanket assumption for dormancy hours is not accurate. It varies tremendously among species.

Your assumption that the ground soil doesn't get cold below 1/2" down and thaws before 10 is a little naive. Soil doesn't have to freeze to be cold. The ground is also a vast temperature sump--it is slow to warm and slow to cool--it's average temperature (at various levels) lags behind air temperatures by weeks, even months. Ever dig a hole in March? the soil six inches down --at least here in Zone 7 No. Va.--can contain ice particles--even on a 65 F day...at that time of year.

Daytime temps above forty degrees with freezes at night are not a good thing for trees in containers, as they lack the soil volume that in ground trees have to protect them from extreme temperature swings. They are extremely vulnerable to freezing and frost in late winter--they are completely vulnerable to freezes if new leaves are present. A hard freeze on a newly repotted tree that has new growth can kill the entire tree, not just the new leaves.

You cannot change a tree species' basic genetic environmental limits with "acclimation." Trees grow as they can--or can't. Pick and choose which species you grow with that in mind.

Local species will ALWAYS be hardier than species from somewhere else.

In-ground trees are protected (mostly) by their "chilling hour" requirements. They cannot bud before those requirements have been reached. Each species has a different requirement generally. Dormancy break, unlike the onset of dormancy (which is spurred by shortening daylength)--depends on soil temperature. Once soil around all around the roots rises above 40 or so, the tree begins to grow. This can take quite a while in nature, as the ground -- surface to 12 inches down,--the root zone--is a deep volume of soil. The temperature of such a vast volume of dense material doesn't change easily or quickly--even if air temps do. Even if air temps are in the 70's for a few days, the soil around tree roots 8 inches down isn't going to get much above 40 in Jan. Trees have adapted to this to avoid early bud break during warm spells in the winter. That's why you don't get spring during a warm week in January.

I wouldn't be planting trees this time of year. It might be "OK" to do it. It could also mean death for the tree if a deep cold spell comes along (which this year isn't out of the question). It's not really about being "OK" to plant anytime the ground isn't frozen. It's more about when it's "optimal" or "ideal" to plant. OK doesn't really cut it.
 
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