I am super new to bonsai and really only started researching about a month ago and was planning to pick up my first this spring BUT my husband had other ideas and seeing me excited bought me a juniper( it will be here Friday ) .
I’m excited but worried , I’m right outside Austin in central Texas and we can temps that drop to freezing overnight and shoot up to high 50 or 60s this time of year .
So far I know they need to go dormant so cold but I also seen in one of the beginner videos here that freezing and thawing is what’s hard in the tree .
So I am unsure what to do .
I have a tentative plan to place it outside during the day and overnight in our unheated but attached the house garage which I think will prevent it from completely freezing at night but still let it go through cold night plus allow fir sunlight .
Does this sound like it could succeed ?
I’ve heard some people overwinter in the refrigerator in a humid bag if they don’t get cold enough consistently but that sounds … scary .
Anyone have any insight ?
Welcome to the Forum and to Mirai.
There is a very active and gifted group of folk in Austin that will be a tremendous resource for you as you continue on you Bonsai journey.
this is the HTML for the Austin society. I’d recommend contacting them for answers that are regional specific.
If the Juniper has been in an environment that has allowed to to transition to dormancy, then healing it in on the ground with mulch around the pot and on the soil surface is a very good way to over winter a tree, remembering to water to prevent it from drying out but not so much as to cause root rot (being soppy wet all of the time). If it hasn’t been exposed to progressively lower temps and shortened daylight (aka has been in a greenhouse), then you may need to transition it to dormancy by having out during the day and in a more protected area (garage) at night when its going to be below freezing. This may take a couple of weeks but then you should be able to heal it into a bed with the mulch around it.
Thank you for your response , I’ll see what shape it is when it gets here and check out the group .
What is the low? Trees don’t freeze at 32*. The stored up sugars act as an antifreeze of sorts.
Christina, Welcome to Bonsai and Mirai. I cannot echo what Les has said loud enough, he is spot on. The Austin club is great and meets monthly. Bonsai are trees and thus want to be outside. Junipers are hearty plants and sold in Texas as landscape plants. They will survive our winter temps just fine. As Les stated putting the pot on the ground, out of the wind with mulch up to the pot rim is a great way to protect your tree over the winter. Also as Les said you may need to ease your tree into the “real world” if it has been green house grown. Truthfully your plan to bring it into the garage overnight on cold, freezing temp nights should work well and after a few weeks it can live happily outside. There are other Texans here on the forum and online on IG, FB, etc. that can offer tips too.
The best bonsai advise I ever got was " Join a local club."
Thank you .
I did reach out the Austin bonsai society and they did confirm that it would be best overnight in the garage this year if the temps drop below 32 . They told me it can handle the cold but maybe not a freeze thaw cycle this year coming from the greenhouse into a different environment.
Since I am not awake overnight I plan to move it when the temps are called for the 30s but am awake at 6 am so it can get right back outside .
It was great advice I received first to reach out to them because not only did they help me with particular tree in these particular circumstances ( Google was 0 help) they also told me exactly what kid of juniper it is .
It did show up with some browning which worries me and some soggy icky water logged soil but all I can do is let it dry out before thinking about watering it again until spring since I don’t think adding midwinter transplant is a good idea
Thank you again for chiming , I appreciate the time .
It can get to the lower 30s and of course it’s possible it will get colder later on ( also possible it won’t ) winters here are kinda … you just never know lol
I am adding some pictures here if the browning in case anyone algae some thoughts on if it’s normal or something I should be concerned about .
The pictures taken inside was taken immediately upon unpacking and initial inspection … it was outside within 15 minutes of arrival .
I’m no juniper expert, but it looks like normal undergrowth needle drop to me
Nothing to worry about. Watering will be your test with this tree. Looks like potting soil with rocks on top.
If that is the case then it will retain water/moisture for an extended time, that’s what it it designed to do. . It will require less frequent watering than you think.
Have fun! Good luck!
Yeah from what I can tell that’s what it is , I’ll be careful watering this winter but I plan on transplanting in spring to a better bonsai soil .
It came sopping wet … like shockingly drenched ( it even leaked through the bag they had around it into the box) .
I let him dry out this weekend and I’m going to check the pot to see if it’s moist in a couple hours once it warms up a bit .
I have a similar scenario with a rhodedendurn. I’ll be moving it to a kanuma and pumice mix this spring. Watering has for sure been the biggest challenge and it’s out in full sun.
Yeah it’s just sort of limo through with you have for the next couple months until it safe to move to move them .
I really appreciate the present but I hated the time of year for incoming baby plants … as it settles in though I’m beginning to like it it better because it’s here and I can time that soil change out perfectly .
As long as it lives I think this might be better than I initially thought .
Are those rocks loose or are the all glued together to make a barrier? If they are fastened together( as I remember from my mother’s gift to me), the solid covering needs to be removed and some surface that allows air and evaporation used as top dressing. Nice gift!
The time of year will allow you to learn before you act on any transplanting or styling. If you plan to repot leave lots of foliage to keep it strong to grow new roots in the substrate.
The rocks are loose so it’s good there , I’m going to leave the foliage some this spring and just get him into a good quality soil and let it grow a bit .
I’ve kept it alive so far so I’m feeling pretty happy .