Has anyone had long-term success with wintering in a refrigerator?

Bonsai Noodles

Yamadori
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This thread on refrigerator overwintering really piqued my interest: https://www.bonsainut.com/threads/refrigerator-dormancy.10325/

I'm currently in Minnesota cold and plan to use an unheated garage to keep trees from dying in the crazy-cold weathers. Seems doable, and I've had success with "experiment trees" before (given, they're native and not Japanese Maples). But it seems like I might have another problem when I move to Palo Alto, CA (near the Bay Area).

Has anyone who's lived in a Zone 10-ish area had success with refrigerator-induced dormancy long-term for Japanese Maples? I saw an article from Brent of Evergreen Gardenworks about it.

Really curious to see if anyone's actually had long-term success. Please share your setup!
 

rodeolthr

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There aren't many things that won't grow in the Bay area, including all manner of temperate climate plants. Even in southern California, I was able to grow Japanese maples in my garden because they received enough chill hours during the winter. Is there something in particular that you're wanting to grow there?
 

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There aren't many things that won't grow in the Bay area, including all manner of temperate climate plants. Even in southern California, I was able to grow Japanese maples in my garden because they received enough chill hours during the winter. Is there something in particular that you're wanting to grow there?

Definitely will try to get my hand on redwoods and other native species there. But, as my signature suggests, I’m a Maple fanatic!

Always have been, haha.
 

JudyB

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They do that at a bonsai/botanical garden in NC, they have a large room that they refrigerate. In a smaller actual fridge application, you'll need to make sure the plant doesn't dry out, by misting, as refrigerators are very very dry.
 

leatherback

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In a smaller actual fridge application, you'll need to make sure the plant doesn't dry out, by misting, as refrigerators are very very dry.
Good warning. I have heard of people putting the trees in large bags, and ventilating them every week.

This sounds worse than trying to keep tropicals healthy in the north!
 

Bonsai Noodles

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I wonder if it's possible to build something that bumps a little corner of a house 10-20 degrees F lower. Based on the chart below, if you can create a little "microclimate" somehow, it might work? I know there are heat pads, but are cold pads a thing? Refrigerator sounds tough on the plants for sure, but I wonder if anyone's ever done anything clever to circumvent...
 

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Clicio

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They do that at a bonsai/botanical garden in NC, they have a large room that they refrigerate. In a smaller actual fridge application, you'll need to make sure the plant doesn't dry out, by misting, as refrigerators are very very dry.
It's been done in South America, but it is a real big room under total control of temperature and light and humidity. Not for a hobbist, as it must be a very expensive system.
 

Cadillactaste

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Pulled up a good thread. Sergio/Mach5 has amazing specimen trees. So that he had issues. Would make me think...it's not worth the effort.
 

Clicio

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Like in Lisbon they have a tropical garden which is in fact a huge greenhouse sponsored by the Botanical Garden. It works, but it is not a cheap system.
Screen Shot 2020-09-07 at 17.21.53.jpg
 

rodeolthr

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Are you concerned about growing acer palmatum (& others) as bonsai, or in the garden? You will find them already growing throughout the Bay area and readily available at most nurseries there. Some of the outlying areas are able to grow many varieties of apples, most of which require even more chill hours. The town of Gravenstein comes to mind.
 

barrosinc

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I remember Mach5 doing this and almost losing a maple tree to extend winter because the fridge was so dry inside.
 

Bonsai Noodles

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Okay, seems like the general advice is to NOT do this. I guess the best way to go about this is to just stick to native trees...

Are you concerned about growing acer palmatum (& others) as bonsai, or in the garden? You will find them already growing throughout the Bay area and readily available at most nurseries there. Some of the outlying areas are able to grow many varieties of apples, most of which require even more chill hours. The town of Gravenstein comes to mind.

As bonsai — unlikely I'll have much of a garden once I'm in the Bay Area, haha. I think the best way to go about it is to ask local nurseries what they've had success with. Could also join the San Francisco Bonsai Society.
 

barrosinc

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edit: I think maples as you wrote in the OP might have the trouples of the link posted.
 

Bonsai Noodles

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Oakland California is home to the Merritt Lake Bonsai Collection, this is not far from Palo Alto, and they grow Japanese maples there. I think you will have no problems with Japanese maples if you stay in the greater Bay area.

That's interesting and really great to hear. I'll definitely drop by to ask how they make sure JMs don't break dormancy in the winter.

There is hope!
 

Woocash

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I wonder if it's possible to build something that bumps a little corner of a house 10-20 degrees F lower. Based on the chart below, if you can create a little "microclimate" somehow, it might work? I know there are heat pads, but are cold pads a thing? Refrigerator sounds tough on the plants for sure, but I wonder if anyone's ever done anything clever to circumvent...
You need peltier boards. They need a power source and one side gets hot while the other gets cold. If you can isolate the two sides from each other and keep the temperatures as different as possible using water cooling, heat sinks and fans you can create some kind of air conditioning unit. Not large enough for a whole room, necessarily, but suitable for cold bonsai storage perhaps. You can buy ready made units on EBay.
 

Anthony

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Yes, since 1980 - Celtis, Gingko and Maples.
Just check on the plants weekly.
Info left on this site a few years ago, also check with Canada for
maples.
Good Day
Anthony
 

Clicio

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Yes, since 1980 - Celtis, Gingko and Maples.
Info left on this site a few years ago

@Anthony I am very much interested, could you please post here the title of this old thread so I can search for it?
Thanks in advance!
 

Adair M

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Okay, seems like the general advice is to NOT do this. I guess the best way to go about this is to just stick to native trees...



As bonsai — unlikely I'll have much of a garden once I'm in the Bay Area, haha. I think the best way to go about it is to ask local nurseries what they've had success with. Could also join the San Francisco Bonsai Society.
“The coldest winter I ever felt was July in San Francisco.” — Mark Twain

The Bay Area generally has mild weather due to the influence of the cold water in the Bay. There are lots of microclimates there, so you need to do some research. Temperatures can vary wildly due to the local topography.
 
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