Wintering a Rock Juniper

David M. Martin

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My Rock Juniper thrived this spring and summer. (Better than I could have imagined!) Last year I kept it in over the winter in a Southern window and it did just fine, but I learned it's best to keep them outside,,, from this forum. My question now is, if I'm supposed to mulch it in during the winter months, on the North side of my house, and protect it from sunlight,,,, when should I plan on doing this?
 

Dav4

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I used to put my trees away around Thanksgiving when I lived in usda zone 6. It's ok for your tree to be exposed to freezing temps...it's actually a good thing. Once the tree has seen several hard freezes and the temps are threatening to go below 20F, I would consider providing extra protection, ie., moving it to its winter resting spot and mulching it in. Water the mulch and you should be ok.
 

David M. Martin

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Thanks for the input and I'll take your advice. But the next question has to do with how to winter my tree. I went through my books and found nothing on how to mulch a tree.

Any special kind of mulch? Cover the trunk with it? What is everyone else using to protect their trees? Should I build a wooden box, or,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,??????
 

rockm

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Find a spot that gets little (or no) direct sun all winter (if possible) and is sheltered from the worst winds. Get a brick or two, place them on the ground. Water your tree well. Place it on the bricks-this insures the pot drains over the winter. If you simply bury the pot or place it directly on the ground, it WILL get clogged and the plants roots will sit in water, which leads to root rot and winter kill. Get bags of shredded pine bark mulch (not the nuggets) cover the pot and bricks with mulch up to the first branches of the tree--at least six inches deep. Water the mulch, thoroughly, stirring it around a bit to make sure the water penetrates (I've found over the years that dry mulch can suck water out of bonsai soil, so don't leave the mulch too dry at first. If you water the mulch well from the first, you won't have to worry about it all winter, as rain and snow will keep it most enough. Don't be too concerned about frozen roots. That really won't matter unless temps get below 15 or so and stay there for more than a few days. Even then, you probably won't have to worry since it's a juniper.

Shelter from wind is also important. Burlap placed over the tree and anchored in place can provide a wind break in bad wind...
 

David M. Martin

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Thank you RockM

Thanks for all the information RockM. That's the kind of info I needed. Now I can't wait until next Spring to see how much further it will develop. If last spring was any indication of what to expect this next Spring, I'm going to have a very beautiful Rock Juniper. It surprised me this last growing season. Love those kinds of surprises. Thanks again for all your help!:)
 

Stan Kengai

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David, down here we have bugs just about all year long. To combat them, I use cypress mulch because the aromatic oils deter bugs. That might not be as much of a problem up north, and heck, you might not even be able to get cypress.
 

David M. Martin

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Just an FYI Stan.

David, down here we have bugs just about all year long. To combat them, I use cypress mulch because the aromatic oils deter bugs. That might not be as much of a problem up north, and heck, you might not even be able to get cypress.

Thanks for the info Stan. In Indiana the winters are usually harsh enough that bugs are not a problem. Aside from mosquitoes, occasional bag worms, and infrequent borers in larger trees, you just don't run into them much. We are also fortunate enough that we usually have lots of Praying Mantis, and Lady Bugs. Cool little critters, and in past summers have saved some of my other plants from Aphids and the like. Thanks again Stan.
 

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