Author Topic: wintering in Iowa zone 5A  (Read 2538 times)

ronzog51

  • Poster
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • USDA Zone: 5a
wintering in Iowa zone 5A
« on: November 19, 2017, 02:17 PM »
I've been into Bonsai for a couple years and have a few tropical bonsai but want to get into hardy bonsai like Maple or Pine but I'm having trouble understanding how to winter these where I'm from even with all the reading I've done. like the specifics where to put them, I've read mulching them, putting them in a shed, putting them back in the ground. Do the conifers still need light, how do you know if they need water if its below freezing. Can any of you northern Guys help me out :-\
 

Jay

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 480
  • Thanked: 2 times
  • USDA zone 4 Northern Vermont
Re: wintering in Iowa zone 5A
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2017, 06:42 AM »
Hi, I'm from northern Vermont, zone 4. This is a good time of year to think about what trees will work for you. You do not want to obtain anything now, so there is no pressure. Question, have you looked into any Bonsai Clubs or groups near you? They would be best to help with your local needs.
For me overwintering takes two forms, a cold room and an attached unheated garage. Oh, I do not do Tropicals. The cold room is maintained at 36 to 38 degrees F. Most of my trees overwinter there. They never freeze but do go dormant. As to water it is minimal, perhaps once a month. My Larch live on a shelf in the garage. When the temps go,down below 10 or so I plug in a home made heating grid to keep the pots (roots) from going below the mid 20's. Everyone does fine, but that is what works for me.....
Just my 2 cents....
Jay
 

ronzog51

  • Poster
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • USDA Zone: 5a
Re: wintering in Iowa zone 5A
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2017, 08:50 AM »
Hi Jay
    My tropicals do pretty well for me keep them outside in the summer and in east window with aux lighting 5000k LEDS. I dont really have a room in the house I can use for a cold room have a old wooden work shed and a garage I can put them in. It can get down to -15 -20 degrees round here in the winter thought about some kind of box with temp controlled heat tape, with mulch and set pots in that for winter. since conifers remain green in winter do they need light.
     Dont know of any clubs or other bonsai nuts round this area I can talk too. Every tree I've bought has been online which can be disappointing cause you dont know what your gonna end up with. Bought a Black Olive ( Bucinda Spinoza ) couple months ago and its not looking good  :'( . Thought I may post something on here to see if there is anyone close by me.
    Thanks for your help I may keep asking you ? if thats ok I read about this stuff all the time but it doesnt seem to stick or process in my mind. I'm more hands on and verbal kind of guy.
 

Jay

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 480
  • Thanked: 2 times
  • USDA zone 4 Northern Vermont
Re: wintering in Iowa zone 5A
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2017, 06:18 AM »
Ask away, but, you should know a few things:
1- I have been into Bonsai for a long time, working on trees for over 20 years... A N D ... I'm still learning.
    At this point I think of myself as an advanced novice, take my information as such.
2- at times I visit this site less frequently, during the summer sometimes only 1or 2 times a week.
3- This site had an issue a while ago, and during the downtime lost a lot of traffic.

As for clubs... I did a Google search for Bonsai Clubs in Iowa and found a few. I know Iowa is a big state and possible you may be closer to a club in a neighboring state. Even if you only go once or twice, or to there annual show it will be worth it. They can let you know where to find a Bonsai Nursery, they may even have members who are looking to sell some trees.
In addition it is extremely helpful to be able to talk with likeminded individuals.
Keep us posted and best of luck.   Oh.... -15 or -20 occurs here to.
Jay
 

snipologist

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 28
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • USDA Zone: 5a
Re: wintering in Iowa zone 5A
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2017, 04:22 AM »
Hi Ronzog.  I am in Northern Illinois and also zone 5a.  The simplest way to winter your trees for now at least is to mulch them in.  This should be done when night temps are going to be below freezing but before we reach nights in the mid to low 20's.  Usually around Thanksgiving for me.  Water the trees the day before you are going to winter them.  Place the trees on the ground in the shade.  If there is a building or fence or something to block some wind all the better.  Cover with a loose mulch like pine bark mulch so that the pots and soil are covered over.  Conifer foliage should not be covered in the mulch.  Keep it exposed.  Bare branches of deciduous trees can be covered if needed.  It is best to water the mulch when you finish.  This helps prevent rodents such as mice from burrowing into it and perhaps feeding on the tree bark.  Usually there will be enough snow to keep trees hydrated.  For starting with outdoor trees I would suggest maples, elms, junipers, and yews.  Save the pines for later when you have more experience. 

I have been doing bonsai since 1986 and am still learning so don't be afraid to ask questions.  That is what this forum is for.