Kohai seeks winterizing advise from senpais


I’m a total noob. I’m so new my only goal is to keep my trees (ficus, wisteria, azaleas, olive, pomegranate, juniper) for one year. Next challange? Winter. Three beginner questions.

First, I ordered my trees from most sensitive to least sensitive. But I’m hoping someone can check me homework just to verify I’m thinking about this correctly.

Second, I’m in 8b so when I say winterize I think I pretty much mean bringing them inside (see third question for more). The ficus is the most sensitive and will probably need the most time inside and needs to be brought in when the temperatures dip below 40. From my reading, the wisteria and azaleas may also need to be brought in at the same time (perhaps mid 30’s?). The rest can probably stay outside unless it drops below freezing. Is this a conservative approach.

Lastly, I assume I’ll have to use grow lights as some may be indoors for an extended period of time (2-3 months). I don’t have a good south facing window that gets a lot of soon much less one that would accommodate that many trees. So, I think I’m going to need grow lights. What am I looking for in grow lights (i.e., specs)?

Bonus question, I have cats. Correction. My wife has cats. What works in terms of keeping them away.

Sorry for all the questions. And I know there straightforward type questions. I’ve done some homework but hoping for guidance for those who are more experienced. I would appreciate any guidance you can provide me. My trees will be grateful that you helped me get them through their first year with me,

Love the Don Quixote image, I feel like I may have said that before. I’m in Dallas so similar winter lows. I have all the trees you have with the exception of olive. That said the azalea is a cutting grown from a mother plant that has lived in the ground here is Texas for years, same for wisteria, locally collected, and the pom’s I have were bought from a local source for bonsai material and are several years old. So take this with a grain of salt depending on where your plants originated from, and their age.

Your plan is on the conservative side. I only bring my ficus inside. I do not, and have not used grow lights. I have a bakers rack in a window that gets good sun in the afternoon, North facing, it is not ideal and every winter the topicals that come in yellow, drop leaves, look sad, (totally normal to leaf drop when a big environmental change happens) but they push new leaves and come Spring and warm nights they never skip a beat.

The other trees mentioned I have and I set on the ground, I surround them with mulch up to the rim of the pot, with protection from the Northern wind. That can be on the side of the house or behind bushes a little retaining wall. Wind is the real killer in winter. Another option is a hoop house or hoop tunnel made of PVC and plastic drop cloths. It will give you about 10 degrees or so of increased temps and wind protection…

The only time I have needed to dig trees out and bring them in was last winter during the century freeze, and that was everything I could move.

No help on the cats. Good luck this winter.
Bonsai On!


In the fall I am lucky enough to have a large amount of leaves to rake up from the neighboring cottonwood trees. I spread the leaves on the concrete step stones for added warmth and place my trees on that, pretty much like Moon was talking about. I then surround the herd with additional bags of the leaves for warmth and wind protection. Where I’m at, the temps drop to 13degressF and sometimes lower, so I bring in my shohin trees and place them in my bathroom and shut the door so they don’t get heater blast. I also crack the bathroom window so they don’t wake up from their needed dormancy. My ficus come in when temps drop under 60F. My wisteria is too big to bring in, but they do need extra protection from frost on the pot, so I wrap it wit additional bubble wrap. Don’t forget to water occasionally, but be certain to water before a freeze. The water content is warmer than a dry pot and protects the roots. The closer you can put the trees together, the better, with the larger trees surrounding the smaller. Good luck!


I have covered pots with leaves in the past and liked it, but the leaf bag wall is genius!!
Thanks for that!


As an aside, If the leaves are just raked and piled (lots of air/oxygen space), a little nitrogen fertilizer mixed in with the leaves will turn them into a compost pile with the warmth that it can generate. Not too much nitrogen (cotton seed meal or blood meal) as a really good compost pile will get up to 160 F in the center.

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Thanks Moon, but I have to say, the leaf bag wall is ugly as hell and pushes me closer to a greenhouse every year!

Thanks for the info! El Paso is very different from Dallas but still applicable in regard to what you are speaking to.

I like your red pegasus, especailly since you are from Dallas. I was born in Dallas and there used to be a neon red pegasus on the top of a building downtown.

Thanks again for the guidance!