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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.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Tropical-Bonsai Two-Step

     Tonite's low temperature is forecast to be 37° F. (a little below 3° C.) So, like many other "northern tropicals nuts" (to borrow Carl Rosner's term) in this part of the USA, I made sure to get my tropical trees under shelter for the nite. That sort of temperature wouldn't kill them, but it would shock them and slow their growth. Tomorrow morning I'll move them back out into the open air.

Most of my tropical trees fit under this polycarbonate cold frame on our deck.

I don't expect to have to do this in-and-out dance again for at least a week, but it will become more frequent as winter approaches. By mid-to-late October conditions will be cold enough to offset the benefits of natural sunlight. That's when all my tropicals will go into winter quarters in the Crate. (See this page.)

Next spring I'll do the same shuffle, probably starting in early April; but in reverse, so to speak. It's part of the price of keeping tropical bonsai in a temperate climate. To me, and many others, it's worth it.

:-)  :-)  :-)


  1. Steve,
    I have two willow leaf ficus, a tiger bark ficus,and a young Pomegranite. I also have a buttonwood that came from florida a week and a half ago. What are safe low temps to keep them outside. Andy kasper

    1. Hi, Andy,

      I would protect the Ficuses below 40 F, myself. They can survive an hour or two of freezing temperatures -- I've seen it happen -- but why lose foliage and twigs when you don't have to? Even at 40, they'll be slowed; you're counting on the benefit of direct sun the next day to make up for it. (And I think that's worth it.)
      I've never kept FL buttonwood, but I've read that they don't like temperatures below 60 F. Especially since yours just came from FL (Wigert's?) and is still adjusting, I wouldn't leave it out below 50 or 55 F, myself.
      I've grown pomegranate in the past, tho I don't have one at the moment. Pomegranate is warm-temperate, like serissa. I'd let it take a few frosts, but protect it below about 28. (And no wind.) After a month or six weeks of that, I'd move it in with the tropicals.
      Good luck with them all!