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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Overwintering Japanese Black Pine here

Japanese black pine is one of the classic species for bonsai, and deservedly so. But it is not fully cold-hardy here in northern Indiana.It's right on the knife-edge. In the ground, it survives just fine here; but put it in a pot, without the earth's insulation on the roots, and the outlook becomes a lot more iffy.

I have only one JBP, for that reason. Two winters ago, I put it with my fully hardy trees, under a fabric cover in our sheltered back yard, and it did survive. But thruout the following growing season, it struggled. It was late to produce new foliage, and that foliage was very sparse. Growth was minimal.

Last winter, I put my Japanese black pine into our unheated "mudroom" at the back of the house. The mudroom is not insulated, but does trap a bit of heat leaking from the rest of the house, as well as capture some solar heat thru south-facing windows. And of course, it blocks the wind. A series of observations last winter established that night temperatures there stayed about 10° F (about 6° degrees C) higher than outside temperatures.

In spring, my little pine took off! The difference between growth in the 2009 season, and that in 2010, was dramatic. Candles appeared in spring rather than midsummer, budding was much more plentiful, the foliage was thicker, and growth was better. Clearly, the mudroom is the place for it in winter.

From the eventual right side
The eventual front
I did a little work on it this afternoon. The long branch facing to the right in the first picture was a sacrifice branch ("lion's tail," as some call it.) I took it off. A smaller branch was wired up to develop into a new leader; one of its buds will become the next "lion's tail. The second picture shows the tree with the work done, and rotated 90° right-to-left to show the eventual front. For an idea of size: the trunk is about 3/4" in diameter (about 2 cm) just above the base.

:-)  :-)  :-)

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