Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

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Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  bonsainotwar on Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:12 pm

I don't have the ability,or the finances to build elaborate winter protection for my trees.What i have basically consists of three foot tall trenches,dug in the ground,with some hay oy blankets around my trees.

Given the insanely cold temperatures,I and most of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere,has seen this last winter,I expected to sacrifice some trees to The Grim Reaper,but the ones I did lose were especially sad losses to me,and the type of damage was what surprised me.Now that "Spring" is here (Here in Albuquerque,we had a dusting of snow two days ago,and this morning it was 28° F,with some frost on my pots.),it's time to access the damage.

I always used to think crown rot was something that happened during the growing season,as a result of overwatering,not on trees that were dormant,and barely watered over the winter,but I have had four trees die over the winter,from exactly this.A plum,I have been working on since 1999,another collected plum,an oak,and a collected mulberry.It's always some of your better trees,never a nursery plant you bought last year,or a seedling started two years ago.When I pulled each of them out of the containers,what was left of the the roots all showed signs of classic crown rot,and in each case,the root ball was about 2/3 smaller than when I last remembered.I also have a 10+ year old apple that should have leaves or flowers on it,but does not,and I am afraid to look at it.Has anybody else had experiece with crown rot under these circumstances?

Over the winter,I collected another stunted little plum,that I estimate at fifteen to twenty years old.It leafed out pretty early,about March 10,and had a couple of flowers on it.Before the leaves had fully opened,it got hit by another sudden winter storm,and the leaves were covered in ice.They all died,but not the tree.As you probably know,a tree in a situation like this can either do one of two things,either it can die,or it can take months to recover any foliage.

I still have eight of my better trees,and all of my trees in training,including a 50+ year old juniper,I rescued off the trash pile at a construction site,over the winter,that lost all of its limbs,and only has new shoots.

This last winter was really something,it would be interesting to hear what other cold related horror stories people have had from it.

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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  Velodog2 on Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:33 pm

I always have some losses every spring. We should have a winter loss thread to allow proper commiseration.

Sometimes I think I know what happened, other times the death (I call them stillbirths) is completely inexplicable. Last year I lost a spruce that I had successfully nurtured for 14 yrs. Ouch. This year a small prunus with very very nice rugged bark that I have had for 3 yrs and had been given the best of winter protection simply died after growing very well last season. I am still anxiously waiting for one japanese maple (mikawa yatsubusa) and a special little japanese black pine (kotobuki!) both acquired last year to begin to swell their buds while their breathren treated exactly the same are already stretching leaves and buds respectively. The rule I follow in that situation is to never completely lose hope until the fourth of July.

I have always blamed myself and figured a good bonsai grower wouldn't experience these issues, but now I figure it is part of the hobby and tell myself to "focus on the living".

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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  Tom on Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:45 pm

bonsainotwar wrote:

This last winter was really something,it would be interesting to hear what other cold related horror stories people have had from it.

Due to a combination of a blocked gutter, freeze/thaw cycles, and a poorly located bench this little Sloe (Prunus spinosa) ended up completely encased in ice. There's a happy ending though: it's now leafing out, having only aborted a few twigs. I did lose some small branches from other trees, and most of the flower buds on my flowering apricots, but fortunately didn't lose any trees despite my fears at the time.


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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  Tony on Wed Apr 07, 2010 7:05 pm

And I thought we had a hard winter... the last photo says it all... but Prunus Spinosa are hardy trees... just like Crateagus.

I have lost a few Branches on my Large Escallonia, this is a problem as it is due for Exhibition next month and it STILL has not come into leaf Embarassed

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Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  Guest on Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:17 pm

My trees stay out on my benches all winter. This year was the worst weather I've had since I started bonsai. It wasn't the cold that worried me but the wet. If it wasn't snowing, it rained almost every day for 2 months. Every tree has come through it all, so I'm wondering if your problem is one of repotting. When repotting do you remove all the soil, or do you trim your roots and leave the old soil around the nebari? I remove all the old stuff completely, even my Pines. Just a thought and I'm very sorry to hear of your losses.

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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  bonsainotwar on Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:26 pm

Velodog2 wrote:I always have some losses every spring. We should have a winter loss thread to allow proper commiseration.

Sometimes I think I know what happened, other times the death (I call them stillbirths) is completely inexplicable. Last year I lost a spruce that I had successfully nurtured for 14 yrs. Ouch. This year a small prunus with very very nice rugged bark that I have had for 3 yrs and had been given the best of winter protection simply died after growing very well last season. I am still anxiously waiting for one japanese maple (mikawa yatsubusa) and a special little japanese black pine (kotobuki!) both acquired last year to begin to swell their buds while their breathren treated exactly the same are already stretching leaves and buds respectively. The rule I follow in that situation is to never completely lose hope until the fourth of July.

I have always blamed myself and figured a good bonsai grower wouldn't experience these issues, but now I figure it is part of the hobby and tell myself to "focus on the living".

Yes,but are most bonsai doomed to die "suddenly" (As in just deciding one spring not to break dormancy) after years of care,and styling ? I realize this may be a common problem,but has anyone figured out WHY? Is it because we are growing these things in such an unnatural condition ?

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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  bonsainotwar on Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:30 pm

will baddeley wrote:My trees stay out on my benches all winter. This year was the worst weather I've had since I started bonsai. It wasn't the cold that worried me but the wet. If it wasn't snowing, it rained almost every day for 2 months. Every tree has come through it all, so I'm wondering if your problem is one of repotting. When repotting do you remove all the soil, or do you trim your roots and leave the old soil around the nebari? I remove all the old stuff completely, even my Pines. Just a thought and I'm very sorry to hear of your losses.

Some of these trees are repotted yearly,some once every few years.My oak,and lilac,are doing great,and they have not been repotted for a couple of years.A tree has to be almost rootbound before I touch the roots.

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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  bonsainotwar on Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:33 pm

Tom wrote:
bonsainotwar wrote:

This last winter was really something,it would be interesting to hear what other cold related horror stories people have had from it.

Due to a combination of a blocked gutter, freeze/thaw cycles, and a poorly located bench this little Sloe (Prunus spinosa) ended up completely encased in ice. There's a happy ending though: it's now leafing out, having only aborted a few twigs. I did lose some small branches from other trees, and most of the flower buds on my flowering apricots, but fortunately didn't lose any trees despite my fears at the time.


Apricots seem to be more resilient than plums.My "wild collected" (Actually a pit grown tree from a backyard orchard.) apricot got snowed on,and only lost a few twigs.The plums were goners,though.

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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  littleart-fx on Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:43 pm

Hi! all,...

Lost two trees i suppose,....the third a punica granata is alway's the surprise cherry on the cake.
It leaves out in June if it has to (funny trees)

Id settle for a green house this year,....i have isolation glass and thinking of using that.
Is that ok? does any one know,.....?
For ventilation in summer i was thinking of velux roof windows also isolation glass.
Have 3 old ones of these.....

@ tony,.....i am wishing well-being for the tree,....! Twisted Evil

grtzz,......from Holland where i sometimes come across usable materials....at work,...and yes for free!

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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  bonsaisr on Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:09 am

I have also lost numerous trees to root rot over the winter, including my best tree, a Seiju elm, year before this. This year I lost my Arakawa and a European birch.
My assessment is that it is usually due to not cutting back on watering in the fall, and a soil mix that does not drain well. I have recently changed to a coarser mix. I think the loss of the elm was due to overpotting.
Leaving some old soil on the roots should not be that much of a problem if you do a furious job of chopstick poking to get new soil down among the roots.
Iris

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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

Post  Velodog2 on Fri Apr 23, 2010 6:41 pm

I am an industrial process engineer by trade and spend much of my time asking "why" and trying to assign root (no pun) causes to problems. The trouble with this in any system is accounting for all of the variables. It's hard enough in industry where things can actually be measured and recorded in most cases, but in bonsai, where the weather and microclimate around the tree are major factors, and the biological state of a tree cannot easily be measured, it becomes almost impossible. Usually theories cannot or will not be tested under controlled conditions. Also, interactions between variables, which are a bear to tease out even under controlled conditions, are often involved. In such situations you will always see what basically amounts to superstition spring up in the form of rules or dogma that should be followed. Many times they work, which is why the behavior is repeated and institutionalized. But why they work is often not well understood.

I can come up with all kinds of anomalies regarding individual stillbirthed trees. It was weakened by fungus the previous summer. There was a cold and windy winter with no snow cover. There was a warm and rainy winter. It was pruned too late in the year. Etc. Tough to sort out.

Anyway, beyond just another pointless diatribe, I think "root rot" is a not particularly useful term to use when describing "root" (haha) cause. Any dead root will eventually rot. Living roots will not. It doesn't answer the question of why the root died.

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Re: Overwintering crown rot,Spring ice damage,and other joys of bonsai.

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