Trident Maple from 9b to 7a

Adamantium

Mame
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I just picked up a beautiful trident maple from Florida.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Bonsai-Tri...GXAxBbAIHHbDXur6lhEZQ%3D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

My concern is, as per the title, that it's going from zone 9b to 7a. Middle of Florida to NYC. I should've checked the location before I bid on it.

Is this a death sentence? I have it in a cooler bag, but it's still getting down into the low 20, high teens here. I'm nervous it's not going to bud out in spring.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Just keep it indoors until spring, unless you have somewhere cool where it will not freeze.

It can take temps in the 50's and 40's... but don't freeze it. For example, a cold garage may do the trick. If it doesn't have leaves, it doesn't need the sun.

If it DOES bud out, keep it indoors and give it as much sun as possible. Then when it is safe, move it outdoors and it will adapt to local conditions.
 
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Adamantium

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Aww, shoot. I already had a couple days of mild freezes, down to 25 at night. Think it's a goner?

And inside the only space I have sits around 65-70. Won't that be too warm, waking it up early? Assuming it even will wake up at this point.
 
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Bonsai Nut

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Aww, shoot. I already had a couple days of mild freezes, down to 25 at night. Think it's a goner?

And inside the only space I have sits around 65-70. Won't that be too warm, waking it up early? Assuming it even will wake up at this point.
As long as the roots didn't freeze, you should be fine. Even central Florida can hit a light freeze now and then. You don't have to worry about waking it up early as long as you have a bright window you can keep it in for a month or two before spring comes to NYC. If it buds out, it will think it's in Florida :)

The process of trees going into dormancy is slow... the process of them waking from dormancy is slow. They are used to day-to-day variances in temp.
 

Adamantium

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This is totally not the answer I expected to hear. I have a semi-sunny window, but it's really not as good as the balcony. I guess I'll keep it there and hope it buds out slowly. I'll rotate it if it does so it gets enough light.

Surprising answer, but I'm gonna hope you know what you're talking about based on your "Administrator" status :p
 

Bonsai Nut

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Surprising answer, but I'm gonna hope you know what you're talking about based on your "Administrator" status :p
You need to learn how to think like a tree :)

When I lived in Chicago, I used to have to play all kinds of tricks with my trees. Many on this site refer to the "bonsai shuffle" where they put their trees outside during the day... and take them in at night to avoid a freeze. I don't know what your exact situation is, but if I had the option to put the tree outside during the day, and take it in at night, that would be the best solution... as long as you don't forget it outside on a really cold night :)
 

Adamantium

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Hmmmm, the bonsai shuffle, eh? It's heavy, but I think I could manage that.

And I assume that after a full spring, summer, and fall, it'll be able to transition nicely into the 7a winter?

Thanks for your insights. I'll start trying to think like a tree more ?
 
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Bonsai Nut

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And I assume that after a full spring, summer, and fall, it'll be able to transition nicely into the 7a winter?
Always remember with bonsai and cold hardiness... the 7a means the temp in the branches. It means what cold can the tree take when planted in the landscape. You can never let the roots get 7a cold. It is not a problem with trees planted in the landscape because the ground is always warmer and more insulated than the air. But with any tree in a container, you have to make sure that your POT doesn't get colder than landscape roots in a 7a zone. That is why many people mulch in their trees during the winter. The branches can take the cold - the roots cannot.
 

Adamantium

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I’ve never actually heard that, but it makes a lot of sense.

I‘ve read that trident are hardy down to zone 5, so shouldn’t the roots be okay to get a little colder than 7a, so long as they don’t get too low? Next winter, obviously. This winter it sounds like I’m gonna be doing a lot of shuffling.
 

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I’ve never actually heard that, but it makes a lot of sense.

I‘ve read that trident are hardy down to zone 5, so shouldn’t the roots be okay to get a little colder than 7a, so long as they don’t get too low? Next winter, obviously. This winter it sounds like I’m gonna be doing a lot of shuffling.
It has to do with how a tree prepares for winter dormancy. The sugars and starches it loads into the trunks and branches lowers the effective freezing point significantly. This is why a quick freeze in the fall can damage/kill trees that would otherwise be able to survive much lower temps in the depth of winter. It is a slow process.

However the tree doesn't prepare its roots to nearly the same extent. They are much less cold hardy. That is fine with a tree in the ground... but a tree in a pot, where all parts of the tree are the same temp, cannot take it. Worst case, put your bonsai pots on a heat mat that keeps the pots 15 degree warmer than ambient temp.
 

Adamantium

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Interesting. So, is there like, a rule that you go up a zone or two when it comes to root protection? Like, the tree is zone 5 hardy, but it's roots can only withstand temperatures down to 7a?
 

Cofga

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Water is water, it will freeze at 32 F no matter what zone it is. If the water in the pot freezes the roots cannot rehydrate the above gound tree and these parts can suffer even in winter due to drying winds or direct solar radiation. If it freezes hard then the water in the extracellular portions of the roots freezes making life even harder. If the water in the cells in the roots freezes they will die and most likely the whole plant will follow.
 

Dav4

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Interesting. So, is there like, a rule that you go up a zone or two when it comes to root protection? Like, the tree is zone 5 hardy, but it's roots can only withstand temperatures down to 7a?
Don't get too hung up on zones. Protect the root zone of most cold hardy trees, excluding the super cold hardy conifers like Colorado Blue spruce and collected junipers, when temps are forecast to fall into the lower 20's.
 

Adamantium

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Don't get too hung up on zones. Protect the root zone of most cold hardy trees, excluding the super cold hardy conifers like Colorado Blue spruce and collected junipers, when temps are forecast to fall into the lower 20's.
Do you think having one or two nights of freezing temps is enough to have killed this tree?

I’m getting worried it won’t bud out in spring.
 

jmw_bonsai

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If the buds weren't out just swelled, you probably are fine. As other have mentioned the root activity level might be the bigger issue. But lets think positively, you will probably be ok. I have tortured quite a lot of maples in pots over the years and they often surprise me.
 

Adamantium

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The buds are actually quite small. No swelling whatsoever. I also repotted into a good bonsai mix (Boon’s - 1 part pumice; 1 part scoria; 1 part akadama) as it came to me without a pot. I didn’t remove any roots, only shook off the loosest parts of the soil.

Here’s hoping this beauty wakes up in the spring *fingers crossed*
 

miker

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Once adapted, your new trident will be much happier, and grow much more vigorously in zone 7a NY. This is assuming, of course, that the tree is overwintered properly.

Regarding potted trident maple minimum root temperatures, Brent with Evergreen Garden Works recommends no lower than 15F for fully dormant, healthy trident maples, but he mentions that 20F is safer. This has been my rough guidelines for my trident this winter. When my trees were in the process of entering dormancy, during the fall, I didn't let the roots go below about 25F.
 
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miker

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Aww, shoot. I already had a couple days of mild freezes, down to 25 at night. Think it's a goner?

And inside the only space I have sits around 65-70. Won't that be too warm, waking it up early? Assuming it even will wake up at this point.
The tree is leafless, it'll be fine. As long as roots didn't freeze, it's good, and a low of 25F likely didn't freeze it enough to do damage.

I'd say the best you could do is keep the tree 32-45F for the rest of the winter and early spring, until spring arrives in your location.
 
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