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Winter Protection Of Shohin-Bonsai

Text, and photos by Morten Albek, Denmark
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Shohin-bonsai protected in the cold greenhouse.

Certainly a problem that causes many worries for the lovers of the tiny trees around the world.

The smallest of bonsai do need some extra attention trough their dormant period, since we experience sometimes very cold winters in Europe.

You have to be aware of the very different climates we have around, and therefore use common sense when for instance providing a shelter for your Shohin-bonsai through the winter period.

There can be big differences in the climate locally in a small country like Denmark, and even more throughout Europe. And it will of course be even more drastic counting the rest of the world. This is just to tell you, that you have to know which conditions your trees can adapt to.

Bonsai in early stage, brought into the greenhouse for winter protection.

Some Guidelines For Protection And Daily Care In The Winter

If living in a place where the winter brings frost or even snow (like my place), one has to take some precautions to bring the trees through the winter safe.


Be well aware of the species you have as Shohin-bonsai. Are they in general able to live in the climate you are living in? And, most important, do you know if they tolerate heavy frosts?

The Cold Greenhouse

I always place my bigger bonsai in a cold frame, or in a cold (not heated)greenhouse, from the start of November. The Shohin always gets a place in the greenhouse.

When spring arrives I take them out again. Thatís around March to April. It all depends on the weather, and you will find me bringing some of my bonsai in and out a few times, because of shifting weathers. But only in the start and ending of the sheltering period. It can be necessary to protect the trees from heavy steady rain periods in late autumn as well.

If temperatures should drop heavily, down to around -15 Celsius/ 5 Fahrenheit, and sometimes lower, I will take my bonsai to my cold basement,where the temperatures are around 8 Celsius/ 45 Fahrenheit. But only until the temperature rises again outside. The trees need the touch of frosts to kill overwintering insects and eggs in the bark, and to rest properly.

Shohin-bonsai placed in the greenhouse during winter.

Protection From Cold Winds And Sun

Shohin-bonsai need protection for the cold winds, exactly like their bigger mates. It is very important to keep any bonsai from winds when their pots and soil are frozen, because the roots will not be able to take up frozen water. And both wind and sun will dry out the leaves of evergreen species in particular. But also when a tree has dropped every leave, it will still be transpiring through the bark and the buds. It may be slowed down very much, but the tree is still active through the whole winter period.

When a tree stands in a greenhouse the sun will still be able to heat up the leaves on a conifer to quite warm degrees, even when it is very cold. Therefore it is of big importance to provide a little shade when the pots and soil are frozen. Otherwise the tree will die from dehydration, when the leaves transpire in order to cool down the leaves.

Of course a Shohin-bonsai can dehydrate very quickly , because of the very limited amount of soil and spare roots compared to the amount of leaves.

Winter Exhibition

It is very satisfying to bring in a Shohin on a winter day, just to observe the details of the naked branches and new buds.

Or even to bring them to a winter exhibition where the winter silhouettes of a leafless tree is very pleasing.

Just remember to bring them back after a day in the heat, so you donít disturb the trees more than necessary.

Zone Maps

Here you can find your climate zone to see the temperatures around the world. Compare it with the hardiness of your trees.




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