Arbutus: potted Arbutus

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by kevind76, Oct 25, 2009.

  1. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    I just purchased a small Arbutus menziesii from the UBC BG shop, and would like some tips on how to take care of it as a pot plant in Winnipeg. The larger ones I saw there were in very tall pots, so I'm assuming they have tap roots. Do they adjust well to pots? It should do well outside in the summer here, but winter might be a challenge. I do have a 'cool' room, where I over-winter plants that are not quite hardy for my area. Does Arbutus need light during the winter? It is usually cloudy and rainy in it's native habitat, so I'm guessing high light is not a priority. What type of potting mix is good - just the regular mix you can find in the big-box stores? Any type of help would be appreciated - except suggestions of giving up. I like to push boundaries, and I'd like help on how to do that.
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  3. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    Thanks. Some of that is helpful, but a lot not. How do I over winter it indoors? Does it need the cool temps? Does it need lots of water, like it gets on the coast? I might try to keep it with all my other plants that I keep dormant over the winter - cool temps and just enough water so they don't dry out, and not much light. I hope it works. Would I be able to keep it as a houseplant in a bit cooler than 'normal' house temps (eg. about 15 C)? I also have a grow room where the temps in winter vary from lows of 10C to the low 20sC with moderate humidity and good light. Would that be better?
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I've sent Michael a PM, so maybe he'll drop in and address your questions -- I'd say he is pretty much the subject expert these days and he can offer far more good suggestions than I can.
     
  5. Michael Zinck

    Michael Zinck Active Member

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    Potted Arbutus in Winnipeg

    Hi, I can tell you what I do on PEI,which also gets very cold winters.
    For over winter indoors, I have 2 in pots now inside. I leave them on my front window sill (north side) where they get some light and they are watered once per week. Temperature from 12c nighttime to 22c daytime.

    From my experience, they are fine in house temperatures or lower, as you proposed in the grow room, they don't need much light, and water once per week. They seem to go into a hibernation (dormant) for the winter and nothing will happen until the days lengthen in late February, then if they are alive the bud at the top will start to grow (get bigger).

    For the soil, mix a lot of perilite into any good soil mixture so that it will drain well. You don't want them becoming water logged the roots won't take it and the tree will die.

    I can put mine outside in early May, however heavy frost will hurt the new leaves, but won't bother the older leaves. I put mine out too early last year and all the new growth was killed off by the frost. It took 2 months for a new bud to open into leaves. This is one slow tree until it gets rooted then you should get 2 if not 3 buds (which open to leaves) in one summer.

    So your house or grow room will do fine, just remember to water once a week. Good luck, you will know if you made it next February. If I can be of any other help just email me at mszinck@eastlink.ca

    I, along with others on this forum, will be waiting to hear how you do in spring.

    Michael
    Cornwall, PEI

    ps - how about a picture of your arbutus.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2009
  6. Michael Zinck

    Michael Zinck Active Member

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    Hello Winnipeg;

    On the outside part in winter. No, they won't make, the roots freeze and from what I have read they roots don't take to freezing and the tree does not go dormant the way say, a maple tree does.

    This year I have two outside with buckets over them filled with leaves. You have to keep the cold winds from drying out the tree and you have to protect the roots from freezing.

    So I can tell you next spring how mine have done.

    Michael
     
  7. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    My Arbutus is growing! Is this good? I don't know if it is supposed to be growing in November.
     
  8. Michael Zinck

    Michael Zinck Active Member

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    Kevin

    Well if it indoors then it must be warm enough for it to start growing. Here they usually don't do anything until they get more light, so your conditions, light, water and temperature must be right for it to start growing again.

    I assume by 'growing' you mean the bud is getting larger and or it has broken open with new leaves.

    Michael
     
  9. kevind76

    kevind76 Active Member

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    So, you're saying it's okay for it to grow in the winter? The temperatures are about 15C constant, and it is in a shaded east window, so not a lot of light. I'm watering it once a week. It has two buds - one main stalk, and a branch - and each are opening up with leaves. Very exciting, but concering, since I didn't think this was the right time.
     
  10. Michael Zinck

    Michael Zinck Active Member

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    Kevin

    I am saying I am surprised they did bud this late, but your conditions must be right so just keep doing what you are doing.

    If the ones I have in my north facing windows bud anytime before late February I will certainly let you know.

    Michael
     

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