Wintering Bonsai

Hyde_me

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I am looking forward to the winter and thinking about wintering my bonsai.
I will be dealing with junipers, Alberta spruce, weeping willow and a lemon cypress.
I live in a condo with no access to and area to plant them in the ground for the winter.
Nor do i have access to an unheated storage area or garage.

I do have a patio that faces north with winter temps that will drop down to between -15 to +3c.
I was thinking of making a cold frame to store them all.

Should i, since the majority of the plants are evergreens leave the top transparent or should it be all wood like the rest of the container?
Should it be heated at all?
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
 

Carol 83

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Sorry, we are in lock down here right now, just looking for things to get done while I have the time.
I was just teasing. Hope things get better there soon.
 

Tieball

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I get that your planning ahead....way ahead. I don’t look forward to winter that much though. I don’t know anything about Lemon Cypress. The other trees you have should do fine in the cold. I wouldn’t think of heating. I’d simply put up a barrier windscreen of an outdoor weather fabric...for those worst windchill days and nights....open on the top so the trees can get covered with snow. Snow is an excellent insulator. I sort of picture you hauling buckets of snow up to your patio with many neighborly stares of “What is going on? There’s something strange happening. Are penguins being kept in the bathtub”.

Are the trees in pottery pots? Wood boxes? Plastic containers?
 

Hyde_me

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I get that your planning ahead....way ahead. I don’t look forward to winter that much though. I don’t know anything about Lemon Cypress. The other trees you have should do fine in the cold. I wouldn’t think of heating. I’d simply put up a barrier windscreen of an outdoor weather fabric...for those worst windchill days and nights....open on the top so the trees can get covered with snow. Snow is an excellent insulator. I sort of picture you hauling buckets of snow up to your patio with many neighborly stares of “What is going on? There’s something strange happening. Are penguins being kept in the bathtub”.

Are the trees in pottery pots? Wood boxes? Plastic containers?
They will be in plastic training pots. So they do need to have some access to sunlight over the winter?
 

Tieball

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I believe the general light of winter is all that’s needed. Being on the north as you mentioned, is that a totally shaded location? Your winds primarily come from the north, right? I know my coldest winds come from Canada north of me....and Canada winds can pack a powerful punch. Very cold.

If I were in your position I think I’d be thinking about packing something around the plastic pots...bubble wrap...small sandbags (like plastic grocery bags packed with sand). However, I could be far off in my assessment so I hope some other contribute some thoughts.
 

Tieball

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I read this:
A juniper bonsai will die when exposed to unideal conditions. The plant needs at least 5 hours of sunlight a day. Even during its dormant period, juniper bonsai trees should remain outside.
 

Hyde_me

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I believe the general light of winter is all that’s needed. Being on the north as you mentioned, is that a totally shaded location? Your winds primarily come from the north, right? I know my coldest winds come from Canada north of me....and Canada winds can pack a powerful punch. Very cold.

If I were in your position I think I’d be thinking about packing something around the plastic pots...bubble wrap...small sandbags (like plastic grocery bags packed with sand). However, I could be far off in my assessment so I hope some other contribute some thoughts.
No it's fairly open to the light.
 

Tieball

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Here’s a source of information. There are many sources...I just picked this one.

There is a lot of conflicting info. Someone else here with experience should chime in...I hope.
 

Forsoothe!

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They do not need light over winter and it is counter-productive because in a protected area the trees will bud out sooner and want more sunlight. A nice, warm period a month or two early creates problems of what to do with plants growing while it may be snowing and freezing outdoors. Also, CO has a very low humidity in winter with föhn winds and drying out too much is just as bad as freezing roots. The biggest problem I have had with a protection booth is what to do with the parts in summer. You need a display surface in summer, too, so if you can combine the two purposes, that's better. It means you need to have one accommodate the other. If you can fit a outdoor storage bin/locker like this... on your patio you can have a top surface to display the trees in summer and a place to protect them in winter. Size matters, and they often don't play well close together because the canopies are a lot bigger than the pots, and two layers is problematic because you will have water them every 3 or 4 weeks all winter or they will die of drought. Access is important. Do the math and see what kind of space, that's volume and footprint, and look into what you can buy off the shelf that looks OK on your patio.
 

Tieball

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I’m reading posts but stepping away from advice. I’ll let the pros contribute here.
 

Paradox

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I read this:
A juniper bonsai will die when exposed to unideal conditions. The plant needs at least 5 hours of sunlight a day. Even during its dormant period, juniper bonsai trees should remain outside.

Ive kept junipers in my garage all winter for 5 months with no sunlight whatsoever and they didnt die
The first tree I ever bought was a juniper and its been kept that way in the garage for the last 10 years and it is still alive
 

Forsoothe!

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Yes, Juniper is an exception and so would most pines.
 

Forsoothe!

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Actually, it's very hard to generalize, and almost always there are exceptions to any regime.
 

Paradox

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@Hyde_me

If you have the ability to place the cold frame up against the building, the building will help to provide some mitigation to the cold temperatures, however with -15 C (5 F) as the potenital low, it might not be all that much. I definitely advocate for letting it snow on the trees. Snow is an excellent insulator and melting snow provides water. If making the cold frame out of wood, I would give yourself the possibility to cover if if you need to. It probably doesnt have to stay covered all the time though. Having it covered and up against the house can also mitigate some cold.

My cold frame is up against the north side of my house. I leave it open unless its going to drop below 30 deg F. It doesnt get typically get as cold here as it does for you but there have been nights that have dropped to 15 deg F and it stayed at 30 deg F or above in my covered cold frame.
 

Dav4

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I suspect all your trees (guessing on the lemon cypress but suspect it’s a chamaecyparis sp.) should be cold hardy where you are. With that being said, can you place the trees up against the foundation and mulch the pots with bark mulch. In my opinion, that would be preferable to a cold frame.
 

Hyde_me

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I suspect all your trees (guessing on the lemon cypress but suspect it’s a chamaecyparis sp.) should be cold hardy where you are. With that being said, can you place the trees up against the foundation and mulch the pots with bark mulch. In my opinion, that would be preferable to a cold frame.
They call it a Goldcrest Cyprus, so I guess it's the same. It's supposed to be frost free so I will find a spot for it somewhere. I have a walkin fridge that sits at 4c constantly that I can put it in there.
 

Haroldjr

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They do not need light over winter and it is counter-productive because in a protected area the trees will bud out sooner and want more sunlight. A nice, warm period a month or two early creates problems of what to do with plants growing while it may be snowing and freezing outdoors. Also, CO has a very low humidity in winter with föhn winds and drying out too much is just as bad as freezing roots. The biggest problem I have had with a protection booth is what to do with the parts in summer. You need a display surface in summer, too, so if you can combine the two purposes, that's better. It means you need to have one accommodate the other. If you can fit a outdoor storage bin/locker like this... on your patio you can have a top surface to display the trees in summer and a place to protect them in winter. Size matters, and they often don't play well close together because the canopies are a lot bigger than the pots, and two layers is problematic because you will have water them every 3 or 4 weeks all winter or they will die of drought. Access is important. Do the math and see what kind of space, that's volume and footprint, and look into what you can buy off the shelf that looks OK on your patio.
Are you in colorado? If so where? Southern part I hope.
 

Forsoothe!

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Me? I'm in Michigan. And I just bought a small 3' x 5' x 4'h shed that I put where my outside compost/recycle trash can sits in season. It looks natural enough but I don't need it in winter. I bought a thermostat controlled switch too, that will be set to turn on a 10 watt light bulb at 30°F and a 25 watt at 20°F. That will guard against the deep lows that kill the Carolinian plants that are zone 7. I had a better and bigger arrangement years ago and discarded it because it was a big deal to store over winter. It was around the far side of my house and was a monster to get to in deep snow. This one is smaller and is right outside my back door where I can keep the sidewalk shoveled and get to it easily for watering, etc.. And it's disguised as a trash container enclosure so I don't have to move it twice a year! I am very pleased with myself to be able to keep these kinds of plants again.😎
 

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