You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  dre on Wed May 21, 2014 10:34 am

im so sorry to hear about everyones loss but i made it threw this long winter with just one tree slowed down but will recover and be fine. i think i was able to make it threw the winter with no loss is i grow trees that are super hardy like larch (which most my trees are) junipers pines and hawthorns. the only protection i give my trees is wind protection so i just put them in a unattached unheated garage during the winter.

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Same deal here

Post  Bonsai_Steve1 on Thu May 22, 2014 10:51 pm

Sorry to hear about everyones loss i am a beginner and i lost 3 out of 5 trees this winter talk about devastated....I just knew i was going to be able to work on my trident maples....My greatest loss however was my poor Boxwood that one hurt the most because it had the most potential to be a bonsai of all my trees. I was surprised to see my Japanese maple and Chinese elm survive as they were all under the same conditions.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Oliver Muscio on Sat May 24, 2014 12:22 am

The Rose of Sharon I referred to in my post of 5/19/14 has finally begun to move. The buds are now showing green and will expand and open in a few days. This is the latest it has ever budded out (opened on 3/9 in 2012, previous latest was 5/9 in 2011--almost two weeks earlier than this year.) It looks as if it has survived the winter OK, however.
Oliver

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  EpicusMaximus on Sat May 24, 2014 1:51 am

I don't have nearly the experience most of you here have. I'm only in my third year (2 winters) but I hope I can provide some useful advice. It’s worth noting that I try to work only with material that is suited for my zone and if possible one zone lower.

To over winter my trees I built a raised bed (wood frame) which I fill with about 4-6 inches of leaves I collect in the yard during the fall. I then place my pots on top of this layer of leaves and proceed to pack more leaves around the pots and cover them up until around half an inch of the trunk is protected. When it snows, I make sure my trees are well covered by it, and if need be I add more snow to them (mulch should work as well). I gather from talking to horticulturists in my area that it’s not really the cold that is bad for the roots of the trees, but rather repetitive thawing and unthawing. So in essence you want to make sure your trees’ roots are well insulated so that even if they get cold, the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much during the rest of the winter.

All this being said, I have not lost one tree over my two winters, except for a tree I tried to "protect" because it was zone 5. Ironically, a cutting from that tree which I left outside, unprotected, in the ground, survived with no issue whereas the “mother tree” died from being stored in a garage/fridge. So my lesson learned is use mother nature’s tools to help protect your trees and let her do her work.

For those considering quitting I would resort to using trees zoned for your area. Amur maples come to mind. Heck, anything zoned 3 will be perfect.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  coh on Sat May 24, 2014 2:28 am

Your approach is successfully used by many, but there is a potential problem - rodents. It may depend on where you live, but the same protection that benefits your trees (layers of leaves or mulch, snow) also protects rodents. Field mice and voles are often active during the winter under snow...in the spring you can see the trails they made in the grass. If they find your trees, they can do a LOT of damage. Don't ask me how I know...

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Leo Schordje on Tue May 27, 2014 1:59 am

Winter was brutal for me also. For trees that are listed as being hardy to a zone or two colder than where I live 5b, I simply put them under the bench, drop a tarp over 3 sides and toss in snow. The north side stays open. Many of these trees did ok. Flowering Quince. Bur Oak, American white pine, Japanese white pine, P. sylvestris, mugo, etc. Had the most aggressive rodent and cloven hoofed rat (deer) attack ever this year. Never had many problems in the past, but this year was exceptional. I think the vermin were hungry. Oddly, I ran out of room in my unheated well house, where I winter less hardy trees. I had picked up 10 generic JBP, 4 year old seedlings and had put them in gallon nursery cans spring 2013, my intent was to use them as grafting understock. I left them outside, under the bench. Normally the -17º F temperatures we had would kill JBP. Oddly, one survived and new candles are growing strong. The rest are very, very dead.

My well house proved to be a problem. It is entirely below ground, a full 4 feet deep, with a concrete roof, an extension of the house foundation. . This year the ground warmed up well before temperatures moderated outside. I had a lot of weak sunlight deprived growth on my Japanese maples. I moved them outside as soon as I thought it was safe. Then we had a late 27º F frost, and all the new growth froze. Hime Shojo, Akane, and a few others are showing very poor weak back budding, they might, or might not make it.

So like every one else, I lost a lot of trees. Many to the rabbits, mice and deer, a few to the actual cold, and a number were damaged by the late frost that I didn't keep an eye on. Yikes.

But this winter has really made me cherish the survivors.

Most odd, I have a bamboo that is listed as being only hardy to zone 7 in all the books, Sasaella masamuniana albostriata. A lovely variegated bamboo, suitable for kusamono. My patch in the ground not only survived the winter, but here and there a few leaves remained evergreen. It was in the shade, and buried in snow. So odd to see green leaves when the snow melted. Were the leaves dies the culms remained viable. All the old culms are pushing out new leaves. I guess the Sasaella never read the books, and didn't know it wasn't supposed to be hardy.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  bryanscott on Tue May 27, 2014 2:58 am

I had good results this winter—after having survived the coldest winter in the area (Winnipeg, Manitoba) in over 100 years.

In the fall, I buried my trees in their pots (two potentillas and a boxwood) in my front garden (south facing, close to the house) up to the tops of the pots as the temperature stated approaching 0°C. After the first major snowfall, I made sure the tops of the pots were completely buried in snow. I left the pots in place until about a week ago. The plants are healthy, and budding nicely.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Kev Bailey on Tue May 27, 2014 4:40 am

Everyone who suffered Winter losses gets all my sympathy too. Three years ago I lost three of my best trees. That included my English Oak, a well styled Yew and a huge Berberis that had developed nicely and was worthy of the largest pot that Dan Barton has made. I mention the species as the first two are native and they should all have survived. For twenty plus years as a grower, I had no similar losses then we went through a much more severe winter than we had for several decades. They were simply freeze dried! I had been lulled into a false sense of security. With global weather patterns becoming more unpredictable, I think that we all need to have, in the back of our minds, a plan for protecting them better when the weather really takes a turn for the worse. I came close to quitting and it has taken a long time for me to get over it, but I am slowly getting back in the saddle.

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“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - Charles Darwin.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  john jones on Tue May 27, 2014 5:59 am

Kev Bailey wrote: [...] I had been lulled into a false sense of security. With global weather patterns becoming more unpredictable, I think that we all need to have, in the back of our minds, a plan for protecting them better when the weather really takes a turn for the worse. I came close to quitting and it has taken a long time for me to get over it, but I am slowly getting back in the saddle.

That's me. For 6 years we had tolerable winters. Once we had a -20F day, but there was a thick blanket of snow that day. This last winter it went below -15F day after day with murderous winds. I don't recall night time temps going above 10F for 3 months. And then there was the disastrous April 1st: The temp dropped 50 degrees F in 12 hours with 45 mph winds for days. None of my out door trees survived despite being well within their USDA Hardiness Zone.

I'm working on back-up plans: Mini greenhouses; buying a refrigerator just for my trees; growing smaller trees that I can fit in the refrigerator; growing more tropicals; putting them in an unheated bedroom with the window partly open, and farming out my trees to willing volunteers until the weather breaks.


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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  yamasuri on Tue May 27, 2014 9:31 am

It is really brutal to read people's reactions change their mind on something what we love ..our long time hobby ....I was hesitating long time to get re-involved in to bonsai growing because of hard weather here. I thought I collect enough info how to protect trees...probably never enough because I'm keeping loosing every year after winter...you do work and create personal relation...and than loose .some..is like loosing friend....frustrating  Crying or Very sad 

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  leszekrybak65 on Tue May 27, 2014 10:48 am

Hi all, Leszek here from Calgary, Alberta, Canada... usually killing grounds for trees in general, bonsai especially... I had to chime in as a topic of winter loses is unfortunately very close to my heart. I've been loosing trees since my move here from Ontario (3 Winters ago) mostly due to chinook winds bringing unseasonallly high temperatures in the Winter and vicious freeze-thaw cycles (up to 90 - yes ninety per Winter). Finally I found a decent way to overwinter my trees - East side of the house next to the outside wall in a narrow passage between the house and the fence - 7' wide or so. This way the sun exposure is about an hour or less a day. Also good shelter against the wind. Trees are dug in in a bed of gravel. Deep, up to 2'" up the trunk. All this to minimize chance of soil temperature fluctuate with the air temp. Now this last Winter - the longest, coldest and snowiest in most of people's memories. And my losses: nil... Weird as it is, the steady cold replaced the usual up and down temperature swings around the freezing mark and the snow acted as a good insulator and moisture provider as most of my trees were completely buried in snow. Another difference was not too many chinook induced thaws.
Heroes that survived were: Larches (Eastern Tamaracks), Mugho Pines, Scots Pine, Amur Maple, Eastern Cedar, Blue Rug Juniper and Hinoki Cypress. Conclusion from my experience: as steady below 0 C temperature and protection from the wind so the trees stay dormant, don't get fooled into a false Spring and don't dry out due to exposure.
Feel sorry for all the people who lost trees. I've been there before and know how heartbreaking experience it can be.
Regards,

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Carausius on Tue May 27, 2014 11:38 pm

Funny, I just started another thread about this a me topic. I've over wintered my trees in an unheated, attached garage for the past 10 years and I've never lost a tree. This year, I thought I'd lost two maples when both failed to leaf out at the usual time. Now, two months later than usual, my Trident maple is just breaking buds. My other maple (a lovely triple - trunk Japanese maple) is surely dead. My black pines, shimpaku juniper and cork-bark elm all fared well. I'm in Massachusetts USA.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  john jones on Wed May 28, 2014 5:28 am

Unfortunately, I'm on a third floor balcony, and have no garage, outbuilding, or so much as a square inch of garden.

Some things I'm considering:
1) Renting a garage (if I can find such a thing).
2) Buying a refrigerator just for the bonsai an keep them in a spare bedroom in the winter.
3) Burying them in mulch in a deep styrofoam cooler (with drain holes).
4) Turning off the heat in a bedroom and keep them in there.
5) Never put them outside until Easter or Mother's day.
6) A mini green-house?
7) Some combination of the above?

Comments? Suggestions?

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  DreadyKGB on Wed May 28, 2014 9:02 am

This year was the first year I decided to test the limits of trident maples. I had two planted in the ground and two in pond baskets left outside. These are young 4 year old saplings and they all budded out far stronger than those that I kept in an unheated garage. On thing I have learned about over wintering is that the winds are more damaging than the cold.

The trees I lost were a large Japanese maple which was more exposed to the wind, a Chinese elm stump which was also exposed, and some young beech saplings. When I look at how they were positioned these were the most exposed to the wind. Next year I plan to create a solid wind break.

Todd

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Todd Ellis on Wed May 28, 2014 9:42 am

I lost 8 nice trees this Winter plus another 10 that had significant frost damage. I was going to blame the Winter on my Pyracantha (s) until I was informed that they are short lived trees; usually don't live beyond 40-50 years. I now understand why the shopping center pulled them out; they were planted in the 1960's.

4 of my trees - a Trident, two Willow Oaks, and a Hardy Chinese Elm (which has been Wintered outdoors ever since I made the cutting) have not budded out but still have green cambium. I will wait and see what happens in the Summer. I feel a great loss for everyone who lost trees. I am grateful for learning about the Pyracanthas and will tread carefully when I see crews removing old landscape material; I don't want to invest the work only to have them get weak and die a few years later...

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Vance Wood on Wed May 28, 2014 8:28 pm

I live roughly 20 miles north of Detroit.  We had a record breaking winter.  We had temperatures that dropped to -20 Fahrenheit and stayed in that range for weeks at a time.  We had the most snow cover in recorded history, 135 years of keeping records.  I have had a lot of things impacted and are growing really slow.  The most significant tree I lost was a really nice Japanese Red Pine,  and a Scots Pine I missed sheltering after a late season repot.  I have a couple of Japanese Maples that are barely limping along just now budding out.  The snow cover saved a lot of things. I would say the winter was hardest on the J. Maples, I will have to be more diligent as to how I take care of them next winter.

I have been growing bonsai in this location for nearly forty years.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  JudyB on Thu May 29, 2014 3:30 am

I am lucky enough to have been worried about overwintering early on in my bonsai life, worried enough that I have a cold storage greenhouse for my trees. Equipped with heat mats, an air heater and auto venting for warm spells. I have several trees that are far out of my zone, as well as many that are hardy here, and feel blessed that everything made it thru the winter. It is worth the time and effort of building something like this to know that you can protect the trees that you sweat and bleed over. The only things that I leave out in the winter (and they are well protected) are larch, spruce and crabapple. Some would think that protecting some of my trees that are pretty hardy in a cold greenhouse is being overprotective. But after reading these posts here, I am very glad that I err on the safe side.

So sad to hear that such a toll was taken this year.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Vance Wood on Thu May 29, 2014 3:48 am

JudyB wrote:I am lucky enough to have been worried about overwintering early on in my bonsai life, worried enough that I have a cold storage greenhouse for my trees.  Equipped with heat mats, an air heater and auto venting for warm spells.  I have several trees that are far out of my zone, as well as many that are hardy here, and feel blessed that everything made it thru the winter.  It is worth the time and effort of building something like this to know that you can protect the trees that you sweat and bleed over.  The only things that I leave out in the winter (and they are well protected) are larch, spruce and crabapple.  Some would think that protecting some of my trees that are pretty hardy in a cold greenhouse is being overprotective. But after reading these posts here, I am very glad that I err on the safe side.  

So sad to hear that such a toll was taken this year.

It's OK to err on the side of safty but it is limiting. If you build a shelter as you have described you are limited to a specific number of trees more or less.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  john jones on Thu May 29, 2014 10:08 am

But not as limited as you are when you've lost most of your trees.  Very Happy 

What were you thinking, Ivan?


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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Fri May 30, 2014 1:52 am

I'm getting some good budding on my Japanese hornbeam, but my Zelkova's, 3 of them, one of which is 30 yrs old, died back significantly fortunately the trunks survived so they will have to be restyled.

I lost some Itowagawa junipers too. Just one cold Winter.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  JudyB on Wed Jun 04, 2014 4:10 am

Vance Wood wrote:
It's OK to err on the side of safty but it is limiting.  If you build a shelter as you have described you are limited to a specific number of trees more or less.

On the contrary... It's actually very freeing.
Free from worry that my trees will die. Free from accumulating too much material to do work at the level that I aspire to for my trees.
I have space for a few more trees than I have now, and I overwinter 40 in that house. I only have 3 trees currently I trust outside in the winter, and that's enough.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Wed Jun 04, 2014 6:34 am

Judy wrote:I have space for a few more trees than I have now, and I overwinter 40 in that house. I only have 3 trees currently I trust outside in the winter, and that's enough.

Your statement is very true Judy.

I'm 65 now. I didn't start Bonsai in earnest until 1975. At one time I had over 65 trees and I lived in the Chicago area, moved to Wisconsin and had the perfect overwintering area. It was a mud room 10'X10' full of shelves
with good lighting and it was heated by the furnace but I closed the return and output vents so only a small amount of heat would go in. I supplemented that with a space heater for very cold nights and they stayed frozen all
Winter. The important thing was it was right off the kitchen and very accessible. We moved to the house I'm in now in 2005. I built a room in the garage with studs and covered the whole house in 2", 4'x8' sheets of Red Styrofoam.

It's worked well with no losses until this Winter. I keep a min/max thermometer in the house they are in with a temperature gauge on the outside to monitor the inside and outside (garage) temps. However I have to go into the cold garage,
open the Styrofoam door, bend over and check everything. Good accessibility is one of the keys things, I think. Plus getting older isn't makes Bonsai more difficult to maintain without help, basically a strong back!

I don't look forward to re-potting season the way I used to.

The good and bad news, My oldest tree survived. Ginkgoes are hard to kill, even low temps don't touch them so both of my big Ginkgoes are very alive and got transplanted. I raised them both from 2 year grafts and the oldest is 39 yrs.
My Carpinus turczaninovii has budded back fairly well along with Carpinus japonica. My American hornbeams, collected from this area are all dead, that one's hard to figure out. I lost all of my Itoagawa shimpaku along and most
of my other Shimpaku are struggling. My largest and oldest trident lost all of it's branches and the other Tridents are sprouting also from the auxiliary buds beneath the branches as are my Zelkovas. They will all have to grow new branches
and be restyled. My elms are alive but lost a lot of branches. My Japanese maples are all dead, as are the Cotoneasters. My deciduous hollies are budding back now. My 2 large Hinoki Cypresses are dead. My 2 Field maples are budding back. etc.
My Korean maple bonsai all made it with no die-back at all and recommend to anyone in the Great White North as a Japanese maple replacement. There's a lot of variation from seed. I know I didn't cover everything. Oh, my beeches are budding back.

Thanks for letting me take a head count here.
What's kind of interesting is that the USDA changed our hardiness zone from 4b to 4a last year based on a 30 year average. So we were supposed to be 1/2 a zone warmer.  Shocked 

30 days and nights of below zero temps, even with the temperature reading at 28ºF in the overwintering house was too much prolonged cold. I think you could compare it to when the outside temp is -30ºF and
you have your home temperature at 72ºF but you still feel a chill in your bones.  rendeer 




My 2 Emperor 1 Japanese maple that are growing in garden finally leafed out-amazing!

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  yamasuri on Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:46 pm

Gary do I understand well that all your dead trees were sheltered? So was my dead trees. They were all sheltered. So than I'm very suspicious that not JUST winter kills our trees it must be something with it some fungus or what ever. I had conversation with gardener from our local nursery and he said "something block the cambium transferring the nutrients to the highest parts of tree crown" I had one JM "Waterfall" survived Last year "after-winter" looses. It died this year. No budding but when I cut the branches and trunk the wood was just slightly drying and looks quite fresh. Same roots looked undamaged? So what's going on? After this passed winter I'm very frustrated as I mention before and a lot of questions run through my head.

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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  Gary Swiech on Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:20 am

Vlad,

All my Bonsai were sheltered and put into the shelter at the usual time, that time being in late November-early December or when the outside low night time temperatures
were consistently at 28ºF. So generally I check the outside temperatures in the late Fall and decide when it is the right time to bring them into the shelter in my garage.

I let them experience a week or so of 28ºF outside to harden them up and then bring them in.
Of course trees like Trident maples don't loose their leaves this early so I put them in with the frost bitten leaves. I may change this procedure this year and bring them in before freezing,
the thing is, I've always left them out like I earlier mentioned with good results.

I hope that answers your question. BTW, I have a degree in Horticulture from Southern Illinois University and have worked in the Horticulture Industry all my life, until I retired
last year. I don't think the overwintering problem had anything to do with fungus so long as the shelter is kept clean.

With trees that are say a Zone 5 or 6, and being in Zone 4a, there could have been a night or two before I brought them in where the low temperature got lower that 28ºF with some wind,
but I don't remember that happening last Fall, but one never knows for sure with micro-climates and such. My outdoor bonsai shelves are well protected from the wind. This could be what the fellow you talked with
was referring to as far as cambium damage to the upper parts of the trees. After all, in the end, assessing the damage done, there was significant cambium damage. The problem is when did it happen? In the Fall before I brought the trees in, or
during the Winter when they were in the shelter? That seems to be the mystery here.

Gary Swiech
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Re: You who live in the Northern parts of North America, how did your Bonsai overwinter -2014, Brutal Winter

Post  yamasuri on Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:04 pm

Gary,
Thanks for answer. What is the average temperature you keep in shelter/garage. Maybe I have to improve insulation of my cold frame. Thanks.

yamasuri
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