Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

How do I overwinter my bonsai plant?

Winter care of indoor bonsai is not substantially different from winter care of other indoor plants, though more frequent watering may be necessary due to the smaller pot size for plants which require high light. Be sure to provide adequate light, either from natural sun light or from fluorescent lights.

Winter care of hardy, outdoor plants can be challenging. They need a winter dormancy to maintain vigor but fluctuating temperature and moisture can present problems. Many factors need to be balanced if you are going to have success overwintering bonsai plants. A cold frame works very well as it protects from very cold temperatures and can shelter the plants from wet winter weather. It is important, however, to open the cold frame on warm days to keep the plants from getting too warm. Another method is to place the plants in an unheated garage, porch, storage shed, window well or an unheated basement. Again be careful that the plants don't get too warm on warm days. You will also need to monitor soil moisture closely as the plants will not be getting moisture from rain or snow as they would out of doors. A final method is to heel the plant in outdoors. Heeling in consists of burying the pots in the ground in a protected area and covering the roots with a light mulch. The ground and mulch will keep the soil in the pots cool, but still moderate extreme temperature changes. Watch watering carefully. Sufficient water is necessary to keep the plants from drying out but excess moisture can cause roots to rot. It is a good idea to place a layer of gravel in the trench where the pots will be heeled in to prevent an excess buildup of moisture. When spring arrives the pots can be removed from the trench and returned to their summer growing area.