Juniper questions

chappy56

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Okay, I know that Junipers always must be outdoors to survive.
But how is it that Garden Centers can keep them indoors this time of year and manage to keep them alive? I just bought a couple in plastic pots from a garden center here and wonder how I should transition them to outdoors. It's averaging 30f degrees during the day and down into the low twenty's at night.
 

Rick Moquin

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how is it that Garden Centers can keep them indoors this time of year and manage to keep them alive?

... are they? Junipers will often display no signs of ill effect for quite some time after they have expired. The uninformed enthusiast purchases one, then they die, and he believes he has done something wrong and blames himself, vice the origin of the trees demise.

IN most cases these trees come from temperate regions and are in semi-dormancy but outdoors, before they are shipped cross-country. Junipers, conifers, evergreens and deciduous trees should only be acquired in season. e.g spring to early summer and subsequently left outdoors.
 

Dav4

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...
IN most cases these trees come from temperate regions and are in semi-dormancy but outdoors, before they are shipped cross-country. QUOTE]

...and, they can be maintained in greenhouses that allow for a more acceptable environment (higher light levels and humidity, higher or lower temps as needed) then that of a typical home or apartment.
 

Rick Moquin

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... quite true Dave, but their health starts to decline once shipping is carried out.

I think the point I was trying to make was purchase in season, to be on the safe side.
 
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Okay, I know that Junipers always must be outdoors to survive.
But how is it that Garden Centers can keep them indoors this time of year and manage to keep them alive? I just bought a couple in plastic pots from a garden center here and wonder how I should transition them to outdoors. It's averaging 30f degrees during the day and down into the low twenty's at night.

While Rick is absolutely correct about timing your purchase, it seems you have already done so. You must keep them indoors through this first winter; come spring, boot them outdoors and that is where they'll stay for the rest of their days.

If you want them to survive the winter, follow these directions carefully. Keep them in a well-lit area away from any furnace vents. Near a window would be ideal except for the fact that most heaters are placed below windows. Watch the watering; they are not houseplants and should not be watered on a schedule. Wiggle your finger into the top 1" or so of soil; if it feels cool and wet, check again in a day or so. Water from the top of the pot until water comes charging out the drainholes of the pot when the soil is dry to the touch. You will get a feel for when it is time to water after a while. It is also helpful to mist the foliage during their stay indoors; do this as often as you like and when it is practical.

Above all, watch the weather reports and when all danger of frost and freezing temperatures is gone, put the tree outside in a place that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. This should be the east side of your house. Once outside and after a couple of weeks of acclimation, you can start a fertilization program. This is a brief description of of how I'd approach your situation, good luck and if you fail with the ones you bought, Rick's advice about purchasing in season should be the order of the day for your next acquisition.
 

Vance Wood

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Most Junipers grown for commercial Bonsai, aka Mallsai, are Japanese Garden Junipers Juniperus Porcumbens Nana. These trees can tolerate indoor conditions for a season without terrible harm if light exposure and watering are done correctly. In truth they can be kept indoors for ever with some sophisticated and diligent care. Jack Wikle has kept a couple of them indoors for twenty years but he is the only one I know of who has been able to pull this off. I tried it with a Shimpaku cutting once just to see how long one would survive under normal care and it died in a matter of a month. To suggest that a Juniper can be kept indoors is a disservice to those who are offered the advise. In reality without the kind of care Jack has mastered it is sure to fail. With a Procumbens you are alright for a winter but that's about it.
 

Dav4

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... quite true Dave, but their health starts to decline once shipping is carried out.

I think the point I was trying to make was purchase in season, to be on the safe side.

Rick, I agree completely. I answered not to counter anything you wrote, but to more completely explain the advantage a garden center may have at maintaining these trees "inside" during the winter.

Dave
 

Rick Moquin

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Not arguing either Dave.

A lot of these "nurseries" that supply (read flood) the market, unethically this time of year, do it more so to make a quick buck and prevent expensive over wintering of the trees, in their greenhouses. Reputable organization normally overwinter them in sheltered hoop houses (read no heat), and will seldom if ever sell out of season. It is extremely expensive (part of doing business) to maintain greenhouse settings during winter (dependent of course on location). Trees that find themselves in big box stores will surely succumb the ordeal as the majority of the staff do not have a pea picking clue how to look after them. The individual Vance is referring to is the exception not the norm, and very few will over winter a Juniper successfully indoors, I know I lost one.

It was a "Procumbens" and against my better judgment, was convinced by the owner of the bonsai nursery that it would be fine for one season, the tree was acquired 3rd week of November, purchased on a business trip. When I say against my better judgment, I offered the owner to pay now deliver later and pay all expenses until coming spring, it was a no go (need to make room). The tree was healthy, was in proper bonsai substrate, followed the nursery owners recommendation to the letter, and just watched it go downhill and expire. All attempts to salvage the tree were in vain.

So when I say one should never buy out of season, it is sound advice. Anyone who manages to keep one alive inside overwinter, has gotten lucky, nothing else (with the exception of Jack Wickle).
 

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