The perils of rasing bonsai in Oklahoma...

greerhw

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I lose a least one tree every year in Oklahoma, especially the smaller ones, and sometimes a big one.
This is my sad story. I do everything possible I can do do to see they stay healthy, watering twice a day, misting several times a day, fertilizing when watering, fertilizing when misting, keeping them out of the sun and wind as much as possible in the hot afternoon sun, but sometimes they just die. When I buy a nice healthy green tree, thats been a bonsai for a long time, I figure it has a good root system, wrong. Almost all the trees a lose don't have enough roots to survive the high temps here. They had just enough to survive in a cooler climate. I lost a killer yamadori red pine this year, when I took it out of the pot, it had about 3 or 4 roots. I've had shimpaku loose branches for the same reason, so when I buy a tree, I never know until after the first summer here if it's going to make it. A large rootball is essential for survival here, so it's a crap shoot for me.

keep it green,
Harry
 

Attila Soos

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Harry,
You seem to spend a lot of money on high quality bonsai, but you are spinning your wheels against the harsh climate.
But the solution to stop losing those trees is very simple: invest in a good-sized greenhouse, and you will never lose a tree again. The cost of the trees you've lost could have already paid for it.
If you only had cheap sticks in pots, it wouldn't make sense to invest thousands of dollars for them. But your trees are worth a lot of money. You need to protect them.

If you want to go cheap, get a tall hoophouse (tunnel), the total investment would be less than $5,000, including a large fan and a misting system. It needs to be tall, to stay cool in the summer. A greenhouse that is well-equipped with shade cloth, fans, humidifiers, misting systems, and plenty of water, would keep your trees cool in the summer and protect them from winter frost.

Such as this

http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/s...nels_cold_frames;pgpb01670r4c_PB01670R4C.html

Or if you don't want cheap, but want something very nice instead, you invest $7 - 10,000.

But with such a greenhouse, you will never lose a tree again. I don't understand why you haven't done it so far, if you were dirt poor, it was a different story. But you are not.
With such a greenhouse, you will not only never lose a tree again, but you could also affort to keep a few new species, that have a hard time surviving in your area. It's a no brainer, really. Your trees would not only survive, but they would be healthier and more vigorous, better responding to bonsai training. Remember, that just surviving is not enough. They need to be strong enough to respond to training. When they grow too slow, it takes decades to finish them. A faster growth means that Marco can finish them in just a few years. Also, you don't need to use it all year around, only during the hottest, and coldest months.
 
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Brian Van Fleet

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Were you piling up sphagnum moss on the red pine as well? My red pines BAKE all day in Birmingham, and get watered every day or two in the heat of summer and they do fine...could be the roots are staying too wet or not getting enough air exchange? Could be a terrorist attack?
 

Bill S

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I was thinking a little more down to earth, the vendors you deal with should have a better idea of a trees history , push them for better info on whats under the hood. It would be reasonable request, not totally answerable for a number of reasons, but knowing if it was collected, of root pruned when could be the difference between a bonsai, and bonfire.

I know at least one reason you might be hesitent about a green house, unless you can get them hail resistant.
 

Attila Soos

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I know at least one reason you might be hesitent about a green house, unless you can get them hail resistant.

A canopy of shade cloth stretched over the greenhouse can easily take care of the hail problem. No hail can break that strong material. And you need the shadecloth anyway.

We have plenty of reasons not to do anything, but with bonsai, you either do it right, or don't do it at all. It is too frustrating to do it half-assed. I had a cheap and small greenhouse for the last two years (it only cost me a few hundred dollars) and it already saved me thousands of dollars in trees that I could have lost. Now that I see how useful it is, I will invest in a bigger and longer-lasting one.
 
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greerhw

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Harry,
You seem to spend a lot of money on high quality bonsai, but you are spinning your wheels against the harsh climate.
But the solution to stop losing those trees is very simple: invest in a good-sized greenhouse, and you will never lose a tree again. The cost of the trees you've lost could have already paid for it.

If you want to go cheap, get a tall hoophouse (tunnel), the total investment would be less than $5,000, including a large fan and a misting system. It needs to be tall, to stay cool in the summer. A greenhouse that is well-equipped with shade cloth, fans, humidifiers, misting systems, and plenty of water, would keep your trees cool in the summer and protect them from winter frost.

Such as this

http://www.growerssupply.com/farm/s...nels_cold_frames;pgpb01670r4c_PB01670R4C.html

Or if you don't want cheap, but want something very nice instead, you invest $7 - 10,000.

But with such a greenhouse, you will never lose a tree again. I don't understand why you haven't done it so far, if you were dirt poor, it was a different story. But you are not.
With such a greenhouse, you will not only never lose a tree again, but you could also affort to keep a few new species, that have a hard time surviving in your area. It's a no brainer, really.

I already have a green house and a shade house, doesn't help when the trees have no root system ! My shade house survived these !

keep it green,
Harry
 

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Attila Soos

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I already have a green house and a shade house, doesn't help when the trees have no root system !

keep it green,
Harry

Can you easily maintain a higher humidity, when you need it for a tree that needs recovery? I've had trees with very little roots, but the humidity could keep them alive until they push out new roots.
 

greerhw

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Can you easily maintain a higher humidity, when you need it for a tree that needs recovery? I've had trees with very little roots, but the humidity could keep them alive until they push out new roots.

Not when it's a 105 degrees. Besides I'm supposed to be humid anyway.

Oklahoma City lies in a temperate Humid subtropical climate, with frequent variations in weather daily and seasonally, except during the consistently hot and humid summer months. Consistent winds, usually from the south or south-southeast during the summer, help temper the hotter weather. Consistent northerly winds during the winter can intensify cold periods. The climate grades to semi-arid further to the west and humid continental to the north.



keep it green,
Harry
 
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Attila Soos

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Not when it's a 105 degrees.

keep it green,
Harry

It doesn't matter what the temperature outside. With a good misting sistem that comes on every half hour, you should be able to maintain a very high humidity.

The problem is that you have to separate the trees that need recovery from the other trees, and keep only the weak trees in high humidity. You don't want to keep your healthy junipers in a very humid air all day long. So, you need to create a small area as a "bubble" inside your greehouse, where you keep the trees with very little roots, or trees that were freshly transplanted. This would be the "trees in recovery" area, with 75% - 95% of humidity.
 

Tachigi

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My condolences on the Red Pine Harry, and it's predecessors. I have to agree with Bill on the subject of dealers. I have also bought from dealers for my personal collection and for the businesses inventory. At re-potting time, much to my horror, find a root maybe two.

This (IMO) is nothing more than sheer greed, turning a quick buck. If a dealer is collecting then they should, before sale, make sure that the tree has a well established root system. Giving the buyer a decent shot at developing the tree. Now saying all that, not every dealer fits the above description. As for myself I have trees still developing a root system after 5 years. I will not release these trees for sale till I am satisfied with the roots and feel comfortable selling to a customer.

Harry , you should consider yews...they like it hot and dry. Also one of Marco's favorite subjects ;)
 

Dwight

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Or maybe concentrate on something like greese wood. It's indestructable. The people in Phoenix actually do bonsai outa the stuff , Phoenix being the only environment worse than yours.
 

mcpesq817

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I have to agree with Bill on the subject of dealers. I have also bought from dealers for my personal collection and for the businesses inventory. At re-potting time, much to my horror, find a root maybe two.

I agree as well. A year and a half ago I bought two collected ponderosas from Oregon Bonsai. After they had shipped, I received an email giving me the tracking info with a note that the rootball on one of them was not as big as they would have liked. I had misgivings but ended up keeping the tree. Well, I should have returned that tree to them because it died a slow death as it pretty much had no roots. The other, which came bare-rooted, had a very good rootball and is doing very well. Lesson learned I suppose.

On the other hand, there are vendors like Don Blackmond of Gregory Beach Bonsai who sell trees that are well established with fantastic root balls. Don's trees are almost too healthy in that they grow like gangbusters :D
 

greerhw

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My condolences on the Red Pine Harry, and it's predecessors. I have to agree with Bill on the subject of dealers. I have also bought from dealers for my personal collection and for the businesses inventory. At re-potting time, much to my horror, find a root maybe two.

This (IMO) is nothing more than sheer greed, turning a quick buck. If a dealer is collecting then they should, before sale, make sure that the tree has a well established root system. Giving the buyer a decent shot at developing the tree. Now saying all that, not every dealer fits the above description. As for myself I have trees still developing a root system after 5 years. I will not release these trees for sale till I am satisfied with the roots and feel comfortable selling to a customer.

Harry , you should consider yews...they like it hot and dry. Also one of Marco's favorite subjects ;)

I can't even grow Yews very well in the landscape. The main dealer I deal with is a straight shooter, he buys and sells a lot of trees, he is in a much cooler climate that mine and he has no problems, I trust that if he knew a tree had very few roots he wouldn't sell it to me. Sometimes he only has a tree a short time in the winter, which is the time I buy my trees. Maybe in the future I will ask him to check the root system before he ships me a tree. He wouldn't hesitate to do that. In the meantime, I'll just roll the dice, better odds that going to the casino.

keep it green,
Harry
 

DaveV

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Been there too Harry! Insects and fungus problesms are restorable, but a poor root system thats a hard one and takes several years to correct.
 

grog

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Sorry to hear about your pine Harry. This has been a relatively kind year for us for growing trees, not nearly as much of the arid southern winds that we usually get. IMO, any trees that I would need to grow in a greenhouse do me no good, I'd rather not have them. Bad enough keeping them in the garage 5 months of the year :)
 

Attila Soos

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IMO, any trees that I would need to grow in a greenhouse do me no good, I'd rather not have them. Bad enough keeping them in the garage 5 months of the year :)

Well, the greenhouse should only be used for rehabilitation purposes, and any other time when the tree doesn't look to be in top health. In addition, in extreme weather cases (extreme heat, cold, or dry winds, for a few days).
Other than that, no need to keep it there all the time.
 
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Daysleeper

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This summer was brutal even in NJ. I lost 4 trees due to heat an squirrel digging. Billions of tons of dirt around and they have to digg and piss in my pots? I am temted to unleash the fury of my Egyptian mau on the bastard whore rodents - but I love my sweetie girl kitty kit too much to have her get lost.
 
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