How To Protect Your Bonsai Tree In Winter
If your bonsai is an outdoor species, the only protection it will need is against sharp frosts., and not letting the tree get waterlogged. The beginner will come up with the answer: simple, bring the tree indoors. NO! Keep reading to learn how to protect your bonsai tree in winter.
All temperate trees, and that includes most species that are ‘indoor bonsai’, need a couple of months to ‘rest’. During that time the tree becomes dormant and it needs to live in temperatures between 0-5°C. Deciduous trees will loose their leaves during this dormancy, but evergreen trees also need this rest period. Your tree needs protecting from sharp frosts – place them in a cold frame, an unheated greenhouse, or a garage (during the dormant period your tree will not need light, so being placed in a garage, even though it may not have a window and thus light, is fine).
Bonsai that live indoors also need this period in lower temperatures. Spending all winter in a heated room will seriously damage your tree and will shorten its life. If you live in a flat and do not have a garden, or garage, place your tree in the fridge for 2 months. Seriously, the temperature in the fridge is perfect. Of course this can work if you have one tree, but if you have a sizable collection you will need another solution.
If providing your bonsai with a place to spend its dormancy period is difficult, go for tropical or sub-tropical trees like the Ficus, Serissa and Bougainvillea which will not need a rest in winter. Chinese Elms and Pepper Trees will survive without a dormant period, but they will appreciate a rest period if you can provide one. Place in a cool room away from radiators if you do not have a garden or garage.
If you move your bonsai to, say, the garage or anywhere under cover, don’t forget about it; the tree will still need to be watered – although only about once per week.
Some indoor bonsai will not survive a frost, so be alert to very low outdoor temperatures and choose the winter home well. You will find our selection of indoor bonsai on this page