Winter Watering Schedule?

Phillip C

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As I have mentioned, I am just coming to Bonsai having started last spring. My pride and joy is a 4 foot Bald Cypress, but I also have a nursery pot trident maple about three Honoki Cypress., two different kinds of Juniper, Chinese Elm and a couple of European olives, and oh yea, one Ficus Regosa(sp). The Ficus has moved in for the winter and vying for light with my wife's orchids. The rest of my trees are still growing on shelves on our small deck/patio. I live in an apartment complex, so healing them in is not an option, although on night when it is to be particularly cold I can place them against the side of the apartment. I have a southern exposure so they should warm up with the day, provided the day warms up. I live in Atlanta, Zone 7a or 7b, right on the border between the two. Winter night time temps can go as low as 5 degrees, but that is not common. Most of the winter the coldest is when it drop into the low 20's for the night.

Having said all that and raised several questions I didn't intend to, i am curious as to the watering schedule for the cold weather. In the summer fall I watered religiously once a day, occasionally twice daily. The plants with more organic soil do not seem to drying as quickly as the ones with a more course mixture of lava rock, pumice and some very small pine bark.

In general, what does cooler weather mean for watering and particularly what does it mean for the more organic mixed soils like I have my Bald Cypress in. I have read that you do not water in advance of known cold weather coming so as not to freeze the roots. But today, in Atlanta it is 56 degrees in the sun and isn't supposed to go down but to about 45 degrees or so.

i am sure this has been covered in other posts before and I apologize for asking again. i have done some fairly extensive reading of the past posts, but missed this information.

Thank you for any and all input y'all have as I think I should or could water less, but am afraid of my plants drying out. Again, thanks again for any input. Even pointing me to a thread that already covers this topic will be fine. Thanks Phillip C
 

mersino

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personally i dont keep to schedule, just whenever they seem to need it which is certainly less than summer. If your ever uncertain it helps just to move some of the topsoil aound with your finger. It should never be bone dry to far down.
 

Phillip C

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Thanks Mersino, that certainly seems like good advice. Phillip C
 

Stan Kengai

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Watering is not, by far, the most important thing in the winter. It's protecting your plants from drying wind and from sun while the soil is frozen. I water my plants maybe once a week in the winter, as they use very little water when properly protected. Keep your plants out of direct sunlight, even the evergreens. Ambient light is sufficient in the winter. The thing you have to worry about with both wind and direct sunlight is transpiration of water through the leaves, while the frozen soil does not allow the roots to take up more water to replace it. Freezing water in the soil is not a problem for bonsai, unless the soil is so saturated that the expansion due to freezing causes the pot to break (high organic soil typically). Here is a really good article on the topic.
http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/frzekill.htm

I mulch my plants in on the north side of my house where there are fences immediately to the west and north for wind protection. I understand you cannot do this, but you can try to replicate those conditions using a tarp or other screen. And this really only needs to be done during extreme weather, say below 20 degrees, or when the high temp doesn't get above freezing. Otherwise, just placing them against a building should be fine.
 

Phillip C

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Dear Stan,

Thank you kindly for your wise counsel and also the link to the article. In my life prior to practicing law I bought hardwood timber through out the South East and have my undergraduate degree in forestry. To the best of my recollection we did not study the effects of frozen water around the root, but the explanation of the inter and intra cellular freezing is vaguely familiar.

I grow on the second floor apartment with a very small deck. Having read about transpiration loss, I very well may put plastic wrap (visgqueen(sp) around the three exposed sides and place my plants down on the floor for a wind break. as far as protection from direct sun, my only option is to temporarily bring them inside while the soil is frozen. With last year being an exception we rarely have periods of below freezing temps. for more than two or three days. It's still zone 7 though, so the possibility of fairly ultra low temps. is there.

Thank you again for the info. I will use these ideas and fit them to my growing environment as much as i can. Thank you, Phillip C
 

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