Refrigerator dormancy?

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Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  BonsaiIssues on Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:48 am

So living in an apartment without a balcony I've been growing my elm under t8 lighting for about 6 months now, it's been doing great but I'm worried about giving it a dormancy period. I don't have access to a basement or garage but I do have an empty mini fridge, I've read in several places online this is a option but nobody ever goes into detail on how to go about it. Does anyone have any experience with this or suggestions? how cold for how long? what months to attempt this? watering, light, etc. Any advice or link to somewhere I could read about this would be great, thanks.

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  0soyoung on Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:12 am

An intriguing idea! I've only refrigerated trees in seed form. A general rule of thumb for temperate trees is 1000 hours (6 weeks) below 40F.

I'm guessing, though, that a tree will also need some light for a few hours a day (say, 8 hours a day). Many trees do strange things when etiolated (kept in the dark). IIRC some figs will sprout adventitious roots, for example.

See evergreengardenworks.com

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  Treedwarfer on Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:56 am

If this is a Chinese elm, which it probably is, it can do quite well without a full dormancy as such. Chinese elm is rather like privet, in that it will shed its foliage in cold winters, but will keep growing right through the year in warmer climates. In fact, with the right care, your tree can be kept indoors and growing almost continually. When it's good and ready, it will shed some leaves, at which time you give it a few weeks respite (in the bathroom, perhaps, where it's cooler and darker most of the time) and then return it to the lights. Leaf shedding is induced by day length as much as temperature, so you can induce a false fall to coincide with the real fall outside by adjusting the timer of your light.

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  BonsaiIssues on Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:43 am

Treedwarfer wrote:If this is a Chinese elm, which it probably is, it can do quite well without a full dormancy as such. Chinese elm is rather like privet, in that it will shed its foliage in cold winters, but will keep growing right through the year in warmer climates. In fact, with the right care, your tree can be kept indoors and growing almost continually. When it's good and ready, it will shed some leaves, at which time you give it a few weeks respite (in the bathroom, perhaps, where it's cooler and darker most of the time) and then return it to the lights. Leaf shedding is induced by day length as much as temperature, so you can induce a false fall to coincide with the real fall outside by adjusting the timer of your light.

Hey thanks for your input, my worry with the part bolded is how the shortening of light would affect my tropicals under the same light ( jade and ficus )?

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  marcus watts on Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:19 am

there is no need to complicate anything with a Ch. elm - you are obviously doing really well with it indoors so dont change a thing.

Marcus

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  BonsaiIssues on Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:38 am

marcus watts wrote:there is no need to complicate anything with a Ch. elm - you are obviously doing really well with it indoors so dont change a thing.

Marcus

Thanks Marcus I appreciate and respect your advice, I'm just confused with all the writing that says deciduous trees without a proper rest period will eventually weaken and die...

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:28 pm

Bonsai Issues,

Chinese elm grows well in the Tropics [ I live in the West Indies/Caribbean, last island on the chain ], around December,growth will slow and stop until February or so. Our lowest recorded temperature is 15 deg.c [ say 60 deg.F]
and generally we stay at 20 to 19 deg.c from 2 in the morning until the sun rises.
I have min/max thermometer in the garden at it's lowest point.
[I have had my elms for over 25 years and I use the roots to start new trees.]

You can simply leave the tree in an unheated room, but with very bright light to sunlight, just make sure the soil stays moist.

As to refrigerator use - I use an old fridge, it's a standing rectangle, with a small freezer section. The rest of the fridge is only vegetable crisper cold. My ginkgo and hackberrys are placed in the crisper cold area from Jan.31st until April 1st. I have had the Hackberrys since 1980 or so, as seedlings, and my Ginkgo since 1994 or maybe 1985, not sure.
I lost my 1994 Trident this year, not sure why, and I gave up the apple of 5 years, because it was boring.
Using a suggestion from Ms.Iris.C, I also stuck a few junipers in, and they did just fine.

The fridge is checked every two weeks for watering of the trees.

Trees are put into the refrigerator in the late evening, with pots and plastic bags [ a Jim Lewis suggestion from years ago to me,] and taken out in the late evening on April the 1st, placement for 2 or 3 days is medium shade [ read under a tree Laughing ].
Hope this helps.
Khaimraj

*Within the plastic bags, only the soil is kept moist, not the tree.

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Same issues, different trees.

Post  Chass on Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:33 pm

I'm also in an apartment with no balcony. I have a couple oaks (red and white) and a few red maples. I expected to be back in WI in October where I would have a garage but, it now looks like I will be in the apartment until spring. Do I just pick a day and put them in the fridge or do I wait for the leaves to fall off? Will the leaves fall off? The maples are still growing the oaks have stopped.

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  EpicusMaximus on Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:25 pm

I cannot speak based of experience because I am new to bonsai.

However, I live in zone 3, and winter has been a concern for my small junipers. Because of this, I have been seeking advice, and I ended up talking to people at a bonsai nursery further north in Quebec than I am, and they advised me to put my junipers in the fridge around November (when it starts freezing overnight). You should still put the tree outside during the day if it's not freezing.

When winter arrives for good, then I was told to put the tree in the fridge until spring comes at which point it should slowly be reintroduced to the sun. While it's in the fridge, it should be watered as needed.

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  Chass on Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:08 pm

EpicusMaximus,

Thanks for the response. The leaves are just starting to turn on the trees outside here. Inside my maples are still growing and are green as can be. If this is still the case and no one else responds, late November in the fridge I guess they will go. Now if the leaves turn and fall off between now and November I'm confidant the apartment refer solution will work.

Chass

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  EpicusMaximus on Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:48 pm

The other advice I received (this was for trees in larger nursery pots - and also confirmed by the nursery I mentioned above), was to dig a hole and bury the pot in the ground. Then you cover the pot with mulch and use a protective blanket to cover the trees. This is the method I will be using for zone 2 and zone 3 junipers I bought in nursery pots over the summer.

If your maple trees are tolerant of zone 2-3 temperatures I think they are safe to be left outside provided the roots are underground...

I have just come to accept that losing trees this winter, if it happens, will be part of the learning process!

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  Velodog2 on Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:36 am

I tried this one year but with very poor results. I believe the refrigerator is a very dry environment and you have to watch the trees very carefully to be sure they retain enough moisture.
Mike

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Re: Refrigerator dormancy?

Post  Lost2301 on Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:53 am

You may want to think about using a seedling heat pad. I use a couple of them for cork bark elms, trident maples and jap. black pine. One winter it was -15 f. outside and it was 15 f. in the garage. I checked the pots and the soil was not frozen. The rest of the trees in the garage were frozen solid. You do need to make sure they do not dry out though.

Pad

Mike

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Refrigerator dormancy

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Sep 29, 2012 2:10 am

I don't think you can keep trees under lights and then just stick them in the fridge. They need the natural day shortening and cooling down of fall first. Can you fasten them outside the window temporarily or stick them on the fire escape? At any rate, you must remove all the leaves and any moss on the soil, or they will go moldy. I have wintered trees in the fridge successfully. They do not need any light as they are asleep.
You need to make sure the soil is a little damp but not wet. Then you seal the tree in a plastic bag. That way you don't have to worry about watering.
Some trees will stay asleep all winter. A few (I don't remember which) will start growing in March when they have had enough chilling hours. Then you can take them out & put them back under lights. However, in the long run they will do better, including the tropicals, if you can find a way to keep them outdoors during the summer.
Iris

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