That time of the year...

DanS

Seedling
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Coralville, IA USA
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This is the first winter I'm hoping to have my bonsai survive. I live in Iowa and need to make something that is cheap but able to protect my bonsai from the frigid winter winds that usually start around January. Taking the suggestion of someone on another site, last year I tried placing my small, potential bonsai into the ground and packedd the bottom half of the trees with hay. That didn't work. Next spring I'd like to continue working on the trees I have in the hopes that some may become something nice to look at. Any suggestions for over-wintering?
 

irene_b

Omono
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This is the first winter I'm hoping to have my bonsai survive. I live in Iowa and need to make something that is cheap but able to protect my bonsai from the frigid winter winds that usually start around January. Taking the suggestion of someone on another site, last year I tried placing my small, potential bonsai into the ground and packedd the bottom half of the trees with hay. That didn't work. Next spring I'd like to continue working on the trees I have in the hopes that some may become something nice to look at. Any suggestions for over-wintering?


How much property do you have?
How many trees?
Any physical limitations?
Mom
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
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Charlotte area, North Carolina
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Do you have any room in your garage? I used to overwinter many of my trees on shelves in my garage when I lived in Chicago. Depends how many trees you have. Additionally, some people used to overwinter in window wells, or would build cold frames against their homes (kind of a cheap lean-to hut).
 

grog

Shohin
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Iowa
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Depends on the species and development of the roots. Elm, juniper, crabapple, Amur maple, and hackberry I just tucked in next to the house and they did fine last winter. Ginkgo and trident maple went into an unheated barn since their roots are succeptible to freeze damage and some still didn't make it. Any seedlings, recent cuttings, or small plants will need protection such as an unheated garage. List the species you have and if I have any experience with them I'll let you know what I did last year and how well it worked.

This is a good read on the subject: http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/overwint.htm
 
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Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
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Zone 5/6 Michigan.

I keep my bonsai on the ground blocked from the west and north wind. I keep them all very close toigether and mulch around the perimeter with yard leaves, but I only mulch after demember, by then all the little tree chewing rodents have already found winter homes. The wind in my case is blocked by a privacy fence on the north side and a deck on the west in one area, in the other area the north and west winds are blocked by a privacy fence.

I haven't lost more than two trees over the last three winters and I think they were from other reasons being freshly collected in the same year.

Tip: Keep snow on the trees, I use the snow blower when it snows and direct snow over them often. The snow not only insulates but also whenever the temop rises above freezing, the snow melts a little and the trees get water. As long as there is snow on them, you never have to worry about watering.

The key is to protect them from the winter winds and to assure they do not dry out. The snaw and perimeter of mulch protects against the biggest killer of all, the freeze thaw cycle.




Will
 

Tachigi

Omono
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Taking the suggestion of someone on another site, last year I tried placing my small, potential bonsai into the ground and packed the bottom half of the trees with hay.
Dan, believe it or not this was good advise. The problem is that it only went half way. After doing that you should of taken hay bales and surrounded your trees and then thrown a dark colored tarp over the top. This basically is a very cheap cold frame that can be removed in the spring.

Not to put to fine a point on this. When I first set up my greenhouse years ago. I didn't get the water lines run before the north winds blew. So I ran a hose along the ground to the green house. I then covered the length in bales of hay. The exposed end some 30 feet from the green house that went to the spigot I used heat tape. Didn't have the hose freeze all winter. Hay is a marvelous insulator.
 
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A word of warning about holes in the ground....

If you are sinking your bonsai into the ground, be sure to put a few inches of mulch on the bottom before you place the pot in. Once the ground freezes what you have is a bowl just waiting to fill up with water. On warm days suface snow will melt or it may even rain, however the ground is still frozen, water loving to find the lowest point will quickly find your hole, leaving your bonsai sitting in a bowl of water. If that ain't enough, if the temp drops again, the water freezes, possibly cracking the pot, damaging roots.....



Will
 

bisjoe

Yamadori
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Sammamish, WA
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I haven't lost any trees to winter since I built an enclosure that covers them on 3 sides and top (4th side is a wall of the house) using corrugated clear polycarbonate sheet. When it gets much below freezing I have a small oil-filled radiator type heater that I turn on to keep it at about 32-34F, as I have some deciduous non-tropicals that are not that hardy. When it's closer to 40 I take the top and front off.

With a remote reading thermometer I can see the temperature in the enclosure from inside the house, an have a drip system on them for watering which won't freeze because the line goes under the house from the laundry room sink.
 
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I know I have posted somewhere my temporary shelter using some of the boards of my benches. It's not pretty but worked really well. No mulch needed, and with the cover, I don't think the ground completely froze at all. It was a long hard winter though.

I have a friend that mulches his trees with other trees, he stacks them up so much.
 

eron jonson

Sapling
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Sun?!

i cant remember if getting sun during the winter is also a very important thing. i live in zone 7b, and would like to leave everything outside (120 bald cypress seedlings) with as little protection as possible. i was thinking to just mulch with hay and let that sit, but im worried about fungal problems growing in the hay over the winter. if i can get by with storing them under the house i would imagine that would give them their cold treatment, but they probably wouldnt get any light what-so-ever, and that is about the only thing that would worry me there.

maybe just build a little lean-to like everyone said and close it up only on the coldest days.
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
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B’ham, AL
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In Zone 7B, I:
1. Prepare the area under my benches, (which is against a fence to the West) by cleaning out leaves, spraying with insecticides and fungicides.
2. After a few good freezes, spray the trees with a diluted spray of lime sulphur.
3. Place them under the benches around December 15. Not much direct sun, which is good...even temps are important.
4. Mulch them in with pine straw.
5. Put a chicken wire type fence around the bench.
6. Check for water very week or two, and spray with neem oil once a month.
7. Pull everything out around March 10.

last year, it never went past step 2! It just never froze, so they stayed on the benches all year.
 

coppice

Shohin
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SE-OH USA
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Snow pack was hard enough on my NH trees, that I built a cold frame to place smaller trees into.

Over the years I packed trees with mulch and also tried them unmulched.

On balance it was good for trees in the monadnock region (NH). Even with a liberal watering before snow pack sealed up cold frame; occasionaly trees dried out (and died) over the course of a winter.

If I was to rebuild over again here in appalachia, the cold frame would have to accessible.
 
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