Is this crazy?

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Is this crazy?

Post  john jones on Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:08 pm

I might have mentioned that I'm a recent transplant to zone 5A after living in zone7b/8 most of my life, and I'm learning what trees I can keep alive in this climate.

I got two trident maples last spring, and they have a reputation for being vulnerable to frozen roots. I'm on a third floor balcony with no garage, garden, or any place to protect them when it gets to -20 Fahrenheit (-29 C) like it did 4 years ago.

One idea that occurred to me is to put them in my refrigerator until the weather warms up a bit. They would fit.

Is this a nutty idea? If not, at what temp should I bring them inside and put them in the fridge?

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  md4958 on Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:22 am

I have heard of people in warm climates inducing artificial dormancy using a refrigerator... why not use it to prevent freezing as well? I would suggest monitoring the moisture level of your trees, because unless your fridge is thermo-electric it can dry them out.

A couple handfuls of ice would melt slowly and prevent runoff all over your refrigerator.

If you have an alternative, I wouldnt let them suffer much below 25-30 degrees.

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  john jones on Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:36 am

md4958 wrote:I have heard of people in warm climates inducing artificial dormancy using a refrigerator... why not use it to prevent freezing as well?  I would suggest monitoring the moisture level of your trees, because unless your fridge is thermo-electric it can dry them out.

A couple handfuls of ice would melt slowly and prevent runoff all over your refrigerator.

If you have an alternative, I wouldn't let them suffer much below 25-30 degrees.
It would be easier to do the chopstick method if they were in the fridge, than if they were outdoors. I've done the ice cube thing before too.

25-30 degrees (F) seems rather tame. Don't trident maple bonsai survive colder temps all the time? It suddenly dropped to 18F here early this week for several hours. I hope it's not too late for them.

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  md4958 on Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:40 am

john jones wrote:
25-30 degrees (F) seems rather tame.  Don't trident maple bonsai survive colder temps all the time?  It suddenly dropped to 18F here early this week for several hours.  I hope it's not too late for them.
I've heard 15degrees is the danger zone for tridents, but if you dont need to get down that cold, why risk it?

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  john jones on Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:47 am

md4958 wrote:
john jones wrote:
25-30 degrees (F) seems rather tame.  Don't trident maple bonsai survive colder temps all the time?  It suddenly dropped to 18F here early this week for several hours.  I hope it's not too late for them.
I've heard 15degrees is the danger zone for tridents, but if you don't need to get down that cold, why risk it?
I'm trying to keep them from getting below about 15F, and not warm enough to break dormancy (40F?)

So maybe it is a crazy idea. Back to the drawing board.

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  md4958 on Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:59 am

john jones wrote:

So maybe it is a crazy idea.    Back to  the drawing board.
Depends how cold your fridge gets. What about a "dorm" fridge, the tall kind? Just crank it as cold as it will go.

Makes me wonder if one of those giant coolers would work? You could keep it out on the balcony, and if its gonna get real cold you can just drag it inside for the night. If it will keep a beer cold for a week, why not a bonsai?

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  john jones on Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:21 am

md4958 wrote:

Makes me wonder if one of those giant coolers would work?  You could keep it out on the balcony, and if its gonna get real cold you can just drag it inside for the night.  If it will keep a beer cold for a week, why not a bonsai?
Actually, that's what I have done the last two winters. I have access to as many large styrofoam coolers as I want. I have set-aside several for this winter, and I have a bunch of coconut mulch too.

But I'm a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy. What if it gets to minus 20F again this year? No cooler is gonna help my trees in that kind of cold.

Other options:

*1. Relocate to a place with a garden, garage, greenhouse, or out-building.
*2. Adopt them out to friends with the above.
*3. Put them in a spare, unheated bedroom, and open the window.
*4. Put them in a small, outdoor greenhouse suited to a third floor balcony
*5. Plant them in the ground in some nearby forest and hope they don't disappear.


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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  md4958 on Fri Nov 15, 2013 4:06 am

john jones wrote:
Actually,  that's what I have done the last two winters.  I have access to as many large styrofoam coolers as I want.  I have set-aside several for this winter, and I have a bunch of  coconut mulch too.

But I'm a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy.   What if it gets to minus 20F again this year?   No cooler is gonna help my trees in that kind of cold.

Other options:

*1. Relocate to a place with a garden, garage, greenhouse, or out-building.
*2. Adopt them out to friends with the above.
*3. Put them in a spare, unheated bedroom, and open the window.
*4. Put them in a small, outdoor greenhouse suited to a third floor balcony
*5. Plant them in the ground in some nearby forest and hope they don't disappear.

All of those options seem a bit extreme.  One of these http://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-Xtreme-150-qt-Cooler-Green/21947771 is relatively inexpensive, can be brought in when it gets super cold... and you can pack it with snow or ice to help keep it cold if you do have to bring it indoors.  I dont think a regular strofoam cooler would offer enough protection.
There are no bonsai nurseries anywhere nearby that offer wintering storage?  Even if you have to drive a couple hours, you'd be leaving them there for three months or so.  

Best of luck with whatever direction you go in.

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  Twisted Trees on Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:02 pm

Question: How can you tell if there's been an elephant in your refrigerator?

Answer: The footprints in the bonsai.

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:04 pm

John,

check with the members in Canada, I believe they use refrigerators.

I am one of those in the tropics that use a fridge. The normal cold used for the vegetable section will allow the Trident maple to stay dormant. I had one for 18 years, but used the wrong soil and it passed away last year. Still have to get another.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  john jones on Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:07 pm

md4958 wrote:
All of those options seem a bit extreme.  One of these http://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-Xtreme-150-qt-Cooler-Green/21947771 is relatively inexpensive, can be brought in when it gets super cold... and you can pack it with snow or ice to help keep it cold if you do have to bring it indoors.  I dont think a regular strofoam cooler would offer enough protection.
There are no bonsai nurseries anywhere nearby that offer wintering storage?  Even if you have to drive a couple hours, you'd be leaving them there for three months or so.  

Best of luck with whatever direction you go in.
I never heard about bonsai nurseries that take-in boarders. I'll have to give it a look.

Don't sell styrofoam coolers short. They can insulate as well as anything but a thermos if they're thick-walled, they just don't hold up to rough treatment as well as that Coleman cooler. Most of the ones I lost was because they were empty and a strong wind blew them away.

All they have to do is last one season, and they're free.

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Attention Canadian Bonsai Fans.

Post  john jones on Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:46 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:John,

check with the members in Canada, I believe they use refrigerators.

I am one of those in the tropics that use a fridge. The normal cold used for the vegetable section will allow the Trident maple to stay dormant. I had one for 18 years, but used the wrong soil and it passed away last year. Still have to get another.
Later.
Khaimraj
It might have been one of your posts that gave me the idea.

Our weather seems to mirror Toronto, Canada fairly well - at least every time I checked.

Do any of you fine Canadian posters use refrigerators to protect your temperate-climate bonsai?

Regards,

Jones.

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  md4958 on Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:48 am

john jones wrote:I never heard about bonsai nurseries that take-in boarders.  I'll have to give it a look.  

Both the big ones around here do:
http://www.nebonsai.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=SIT

http://www.bonsaiwest.com/index.php/bonsaiwest/page/services

New England Bonsai will further discount for members, then again give multiple-tree discounts.

Definitely worth looking into, if you have a nursery within a few hour drive.  Pick-up time is also a great excuse to check out any new merchandise that might have come in!thumbs up


Last edited by md4958 on Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:53 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Is This Crazy?

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:57 am

I have wintered small trees in the refrigerator with no trouble at all. Standard refrigerator temperature is 31 F to 40 F. Make sure all moss and dead material are removed. I enclosed the whole tree in a baggie to prevent drying out. This idea originated with people who grow temperate orchids in Manhattan apartments and have to put them somewhere to go dormant.
One thing to be aware of. Each species & variety of tree has a required number of chilling hours before it breaks dormancy and will produce fruit. This is usually of no interest to anyone but fruit growers. However, you will find that a tree in the refrigerator, when it reaches its assigned number of chilling hours, may start growing in the dark whether you like it or not. You will have to take it out of the refrigerator & figure out what to do with it until you can put it outside.
I was once in a meeting at the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. There was a discussion of wintering. When I told the group I wintered bonsai in the refrigerator, they howled. They had never heard of such a thing & thought it was hilarious.
Iris

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  john jones on Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:50 am

Thanks for the feedback. I've got some new options to consider. The Trident Maples are my primary concern because I've heard they are vulnerable to root freezing, and because I have no experience with them in zone 5a.

I'll be back in touch. :-)




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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  DreadyKGB on Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:54 pm

John,
Just to add a bit to this discussion I live in zone 5b and tried putting a trident in the ground last year and left it unprotected through the winter. It did fine and grew well this season. It was a young tree with a 1/2 inch trunk. I have now put in 2 more to see what happens. I am also going to try three in plastic grow pots outdoors near a west facing side of the house protected by shrubs. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Todd

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Is This Crazy?

Post  bonsaisr on Sat Nov 16, 2013 3:08 pm

I have grown trident maples for years. I think they are listed for USDA Zone 6. I am in Zone 5. I have wintered trident maple in the ground with a rose cone. I have wintered them in a box in the garage (I took the trees in overnight when the weather forecast was below 5 F.) Nowadays I winter my hardy bonsai in an unheated sunporch. I use a heater when the outdoor forecast is below 20 F. I try to keep the porch between 25 F and 40.
Iris

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  john jones on Sat Nov 16, 2013 4:05 pm

Arborday.org says the trident maple is hardy to USDA zone 5-8, but this is for trees planted in the ground. That puts me right at the northern edge. I've been warned that they are susceptible to root freeze, so I'm naturally cautious.

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sat Nov 16, 2013 6:03 pm

Yes John,

and the trick you play, is you get one from as warm as it can grow [ U.K zone 9 ] and as a whip acclimate it to a Tropical climate. With time, offspring can become less needing of a cold state, and just go dormant by shorter daylight.

You can go the reverse, get a whip from the coldest it can grow and follow that path as well.

I have a Hackberry from a root that is showing signs of not needing the fridge and I may get a root from it that is even less needing of winter's cold.
Unfortunately the trade off is the leaves are sweet and attracts parasol ants and the tree growing next to it, another hackberry is needing of winter, but no one will touch the leaves.

Within reason, we can alter the properties of trees. See the Tropical Apple, only needs a very few days of cold to continue the life cycle.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Is this crazy?

Post  john jones on Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:58 pm

Khaimraj Seepersad wrote:Yes John,

and the trick you play, is you get one from as warm as it can grow [ U.K zone 9 ] and as a whip acclimate it to a Tropical climate. With time, offspring can become less needing of a cold state, and just go dormant by shorter daylight.

You can go the reverse, get a whip from the coldest it can grow and follow that path as well.

I have a Hackberry from a root that is showing signs of not needing the fridge and I may get a root from it that is even less needing of winter's cold.
Unfortunately the trade off is the leaves are sweet and attracts parasol ants and the tree growing next to it, another hackberry is needing of winter, but no one will touch the leaves.

Within reason, we can alter the properties of trees. See the Tropical Apple, only needs a very few days of cold to continue the life cycle.
Later.
Khaimraj
I got these trident maples from USDA Zone 8. I don't know any Bonsai nurseries in zone 5 or lower that sell trident maples, but I haven't looked either.

I think I see what you're getting at - natural selection and all. It's intriguing.

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Re: Is this crazy?

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