Need some advice for Pittsburgh winter

Hi All,

I just found out I won’t be able to use my normal winter spot this year. It was a friend’s barn and basically perfect for winter Bonsai storage. I’ve also just been given a few potentially problematic trees on top of this, so I have some questions (I did read the Winter Care under 20 thread).

First - I was recently given a Privet (likely Chinese Privet) and two Chinese Elms. Seems like these three trees have been raised as “tropical” and never seen a real winter (they are from my very well meaning spouse so there’s extra pressure not to kill them lol). I don’t have an awesome place indoors as all my windows are tiny. Wondering if anyone’s had luck supplementing with strong grow lights for situations like this?

Second, regarding the rest of my trees. It’s a mixed herd of deciduous and conifers (and some deciduous conifers lol) - lots of young maples (mostly Trident with two Katsura and two Coral Bark), some Dawn Redwoods, and some Itoigawa Junipers - I don’t have a great place to winter them on my property but am thinking of getting a greenhouse. I know temp can be a concern on days when the weather gets a little warmer so my thinking was to get a wifi thermometer, leave the door open, and possibly leave some of the panels out to keep cool air circulating. Does this seem like a reasonable approach? If they’re in the greenhouse, would I still need to cover with mulch? What would you recommend? I’ve been kind of spoiled with that barn so it’s something I haven’t had to deal with. Thanks in advance for your time!

For tropicals you don’t need fancy “grow” lights. Something like this is great:

My tropicals are the proverbial “fat, dumb and happy” under lights like these. I have a friend who grows national level award winning orchids entirely under these lights. That’s award winning flowering plants under regular LEDs. Put the lights on a timer and ramp the time down a little until about January, then gradually ramp the time back up until they’re ready to go back out for the summer. My Chinese elm is ok with my other temperate trees. I pull them into my unheated garage when temps go below about 30. My trees are all pretty small. Just make sure they acclimate to the colder temps gradually. I’m not familiar with privet so can’t offer anything there. I’m in south central PA, so weather pretty much like yours.

Thank you for the advice!

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I’ve asked a few questions about my tropicals on the Live Q&A’s. Besides the light, make sure that you’re paying attention to humidity as well. Winter tends to be very dry inside and humidity is incredibly important. There are various ways to increase relative humidity if you don’t have a misting system. One I’ve seen is to put rocks in a container and water in the rocks and put the pots on top of the rocks. If you can give a bit of heat as well, that will be a good thing.