How Do I Protect My Bonsai in Winter

Protecting Bonsai in Winter

We in Finland have winter temperatures as low as -35 celsius; in the spring time it’s always an interesting time checking if anything survived… I have the more delicate trees in an insulated cold frame, not to be opened in 4 to 5 months – even in there the temperature can go below -10 c.

today is the 29th of november and although we’re not into december yet i thought i’d show you what is a typical winter day in the south of england we had a storm up in the north of scotland and the northeast of england and as far down as the midlands in birmingham and leicester which is only like 150 miles away and they had deep snow i heard on the news this morning that there was a pub in yorkshire that was covered in nine foot drift of snow but here in the south of england we are very lucky i’m showing you our greenhouses on my building you can see the frost on the roof it’s all covered white and the grass is all white covered with hard force the outside temperature is only -2 degrees and in the south of england this is typical winter day we don’t get very cold winters occasionally we can go down to as low as -8 degrees we’ve had one occasion when it went down to -10 degrees centigrade but no more than that i like to think that the winter in the south of england is very similar to what they get in tokyo in central japan the lowlands of japan not in the mountains but in the lowlands we get snow we get cold and we occasionally go up to about 30 degrees centigrade in the summer but the winters are like this where we get hard frost so i’m going to talk about what we do with our bonsai on cold winter days and in fact what we do with our bonsai throughout the winter so here we go so you must be wondering what we do in the winter with our plants the outdoor bonsai which are hardy trees we leave them outside but you will notice that if i walk around the nursery many of our benches are now empty we’ve removed a lot of the plants from here because they go into either the greenhouses or the tunnels those that remain outdoors are the very hardy plants so the scotch pine is hardy the black pine is hardy many of the maples are hardy so those which are hardy we don’t bother to put away they will stay outside all year round if we get heavy snow and the branches are in danger of breaking from the weight of snow then we may take them indoors indoors i mean in our greenhouses so on our nursery we have several facilities for protection this shade netting although it acts as a summer shade so that the sun doesn’t burn the plants in the winter it keeps the frost off the trees so that provides protection our greenhouses we have two huge greenhouse complexes so these greenhouses are used for keeping our so-called indoor bonsai again you see these are the outdoor bonsai they don’t get put away and then in our shade uh tunnel this is a green shade tunnel and here we put more of our trees so let me walk in here and show you how these trees are protected simply coming into the shade tunnel you will feel that it is maybe one or two degrees milder or warmer than it is out in the open so in this shade tunnel we keep our beech trees our japanese maples which now have lost all their leaves and we keep quite a few of our evergreens too so this shade tunnel the frost comes in but it prevents the overhead frost from burning the foliage so this provides quite a lot of good protection how do i determine which trees need to come in i know for instance that tried maples are slightly tender so they get protected some of the more expensive junipers japanese white pines i protect them here so these are the outdoor trees that i give some protection just to be on the safe side just to be on the safe side pyro cancers i think they could go into the plastic tunnel because the shape tunnel may not be adequate protection for them so while i’m here i’m just as adjacent to the plastic tunnels or polytunnels we have two polytunnel complexes so in that twin span polytunnel we keep some of our plants there and in this polytunnel we also keep our plants here so the plants that we keep in here are some of the tried maples this is the very big trident maple the fig trees the edible figs ficus carica olive trees we keep in here and of course the junipers we keep in here and the small hinoki cypress we keep in here so this is how we protect our trees and this is certainly about two or three degrees centigrade milder than it is outside so this is very good protection what is very significant when we use the polytunnels is that it prevents the evergreens from getting the frost burn as many of you will know by now i often mention the frostburn chinese junipers if they’re left in the frost they get a slightly brown color but if they are protected they don’t get that brown color the brown color i call the frost blush just as the sun can give you a suntan the frost can give this brownish tinged to evergreen trees so these junipers are very green but if they were left out in the frost they will turn brown i remember going to japan uh many many years ago in the winter and i was delighted to see that many of their junipers also had that brownish color this one has got a slightly brownish color so this is what you will get in the winter when junipers are exposed to frost it doesn’t kill the tree it just makes it look this yellow or brown color which is not very very pleasant many people don’t like that color but i can assure you it doesn’t kill the tree the trees are perfectly okay so this is our second facility for those of you who don’t have these facilities i will show you exactly what we do so the next bit of the video will be about how to construct some protection facilities for your outdoor bonsai so let me show you the type of materials that i use for protection what i have here are several things this is ordinary plastic sheeting so this is very useful we’ve got loads of this these are the plastic sheets from our old poly tunnels so this is very good stuff to use in case you’re wondering what it is we call this fleece and this fleece okay let me show how we use the fleece sometimes if you have a very big tree and you don’t want to move it around and you’ve got going to get a very hard frost in the night simply putting the fleece on top of the tree like this and then tying it up it’s quite good protection if you don’t have this material you can use old mosquito nets or whatever or even a plastic sheet so this provides adequate protection so you don’t have to take the trees away but i would say that if you have temperatures consistently of minus five and below and the temperature doesn’t rise above that then you may need to take it away but if you get hard overnight frost that means the night temperature is going to go to minus three minus five or lower but in the daytime it rises to three and five degrees then this is very good protection for the uh for the night time so [Applause] very often we simply take the plastic sheet and let it cover the benches over so let me just show you we’ve got so many benches you must be wondering why the benches are empty put the trees underneath the benches like so we put them away and then we simply cover it over the plastic sheet like so [Applause] so you can imagine you can do the whole thing and have quite a lot of space for protecting it and then break down with bits of wood or bits of store or whatever so we usually just put sheets of wood like this and then this is quite adequate protection for the plants so these are just simple measures you can take we’ve also got some polycarbonate sheets this greenhouse is a polycarbonate greenhouse and when we renew the sheets i have a lot of sheets left over this is the stuff this is the modern equivalent of glass in the old days they used to use glass but now we use polycarbonate so you can either use it to protect the sides or you can just put it on top of the benches to protect the trees and then you can make a very nice little house just by constructing things like that so this we find very useful for protection so these are the little ideas you can uh try for yourself so when you get a very hard winter you can protect the trees like this short of having a proper greenhouse but we are spoiled because we have a lot of greenhouse and tunnel facilities but if you don’t have the tunnels and greenhouses these are the measures you can take to protect the trees but remember that trees are not like human beings and animals which are warm blooded they don’t even have blood so they have the equivalent of like cold blooded creatures so they don’t really feel the cold but if the temperature goes too low the cold will freeze the cells and burst the cells and can damage and kill the plants so good luck with your little ideas for protecting plants in the winter those of you who are lucky enough to live in the tropics and don’t have the problem of hard frost probably you don’t need to do this but for those of us who live in the core countries this is what we have to do winter is a lovely time but there are certain precautions you need to take so just going underneath this makes you feel warm it feels warm underneath so this lovely material fleece you can buy it from most garden shops and you can buy it online so there you go we are into the third week of january and in the uk or southern england to be precise this is the time of the year when we have the coldest temperatures last night we had a typical winter temperature of minus two degrees last week we had minus three or minus four and on the old occasion maybe once every three or four years it goes down to minus seven or perhaps minus eight no more than that so as you can see we still have a lot of our conifers displayed out on the back benches they don’t get any protection they just stay here all year round this is a korean horn beam and it’s not protected here we have a juniper again not protected at all there are certain species that we try to protect but if the pots are large enough we don’t bother too much the english u is one tree that tends to have the roots frozen and if the roots are soft they can rot and can cause problems the pines of course are very very tough the junipers as i’ve mentioned many times before they turn this funny brown color but they are very hardy camellias are hardy japanese white pines if they have been in the uk for many years and get acclimatized they don’t tend to suffer much and the trident maples have their enlarged pots they’re fine as well so you can see that there’s frost covering all the benches everything is white the trees are covered in frost and you can see the roofs of our building they are covered in frost the trees are otherwise hardy but we like walking through mornings like this because the trees look absolutely exquisite look at that chinese own these are sometimes sold as indoor trees but we prefer to grow some of our elms outdoors and they seem to do very well the japanese white lines are hard these saw the japanese black points this one i haven’t pulled any of the needles out because i’m going to work on that tree but these other ones which are native grown japanese black pine or pineapple they’re completely hearty another beautiful view of a chinese arm covered in frost that’s a korean horn beam covered in frost and now the chinese are covered in frost look at the detail see how pretty they are look at the leaves so although it’s cold there is a real beauty about trees which are covered in frost when they’re covered in snow that’s even more beautiful but that will be for another occasion this year we’ve had a sprinkling of snow but nothing too serious and my favorite image is this japanese gray background selcova look at that beauty absolutely beautiful covered in frost [Music] [Music] that’s a lot miserable and the rest of the garden of course my plants are all covered in frost that’s the roof of our building whenever it’s a cold night the whole roof is white and if i can walk you out into our pond area where we have our miwaki trees or japanese garden trees which are made from scots pines you’ve seen me working on them that’s a bover nancy’s pine in the foreground and needless to say my pond is frozen this year i only went once into the pond to clean it on that lovely note i will end this video about winter protection so if you know how hardy your trees are this comes with experience you will know which can stand the frost and which can’t those of you who live in the midwest of the united states where you get really really cold temperatures i don’t know how cold it gets because i’ve never been there you may need to put it in the basement of your building or in the garage or garage those in australia will be experiencing temperatures at this time of the year over the mid 30s so good luck to you but in england we have cold winters but they’re not that cold so we are fortunate in that respect so there you go enjoy this lovely little shot another idea that i should mention is that simply putting plants underneath the staging provides quite a lot of protection those little cedar trees there are under the main display bench so that gives it a lot of protection we use this method really for our young plants see those maple seedlings are kept under the bench and that will be there throughout the winter and that is quite enough to give it lots and lots of protection even within the greenhouse or the shade tunnels see if we come in here you see the trees are shaded by the netting but underneath the bench we also put trees [Music] you

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