November-Winter Care

November - Winter Is Coming 

by Lee Vanderpool

First frost date for this area is around November 15th - just around the corner. With the formation of a very strong El Nino in the Pacific, the long range forecast is for a very wet and cold winter for us. You should be well into your planning for win- ter protection for your trees and warm storage for tropical species. If you fertilize, use a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 0-10-10. Use of a higher nitrogen fertilizer will cause trees to initiate new growth which, at this late date, will not have sufficient time to harden off before first frost. You could lose twigs, branches or even the entire tree under those conditions.

Tropicals should be stored inside your house or in a heated greenhouse. Cut back on watering during the cold months since there will be little or no new growth, therefore the trees will need less water. Deciduous and evergreen trees should remain on your benches and moved to the ground if a freeze is expected. Under normal winter conditions here, they do not need more protection than that. If a hard freeze or prolonged very cold period is expected, you may dig the trees, pots and all, into the ground and mulch with pine straw or other material. It is not a good idea to cover trees with plastic sheeting.

After the cold has passed and temperatures return to normal, heat will build up under the plastic and cause the plants to scald or to initiate new growth, neither if which is good for the trees. Take care of your trees and they will reward you in a few months with vigorous new growth. Remember, there will be no newsletter in December so have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. 

© Fort Walton Beach Bonsai Society (FWBBS) ELF 2020