Need some help with pine bark for soil

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Need some help with pine bark for soil

Post  remist17 on Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:06 pm

I know soil is a terrible topic to post on. Everyone’s soil mix is different but I need some guidance. I raise mostly maples, hornbeams and elms. The trees get sun from 10 to 1 and they are tending to stay wet this summer. So I think I am to high in organic mix. I need to put some in because I cannot water each morning and night. I am thinking of the following mix but am not certain on the pine bark quality I have.

My proposed mix is 3 parts turface, 1 part stable dry (lava) and 1 part pine bark (soil conditioner).

Below are two types of soil conditioner. Which is better to use
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remist17
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Pine Bark

Post  bonsaisr on Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:58 pm

You are asking the wrong question. Your trees need more sun.
Iris

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Organic

Post  Mitch Thomas on Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:05 pm

Here in south Louisiana we use decomposed pinebark as a organic. What we use is listed as a soil conditioner, then we sift out the fines.
Like you said mixes are a dime a dozen, with that being said our basic mixes for maples is around 60% in organic and 40% organic. Please keep in mind we are in zone 9a here, that means very high humidity, long hot summers, rain nearly every day.

Hope this helps!

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Re: Need some help with pine bark for soil

Post  remist17 on Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:12 pm

The trees burn if they are in the hot sun in my location. I had the elms and hornbeams in the full sun from 10 to 4 and within 1 week the leaves were burnt. I moved them to the partial shade the leaves are coming back.

Interesting with the mix down south.  I would think you would want a faster drawining soil. I am currently a 50/50 mix and I thought the soil was to wet. We are in the same situation of getting a rain shower every other day. The roots really are not drying out at all. This is very good to know. I am not to far off from what you are using.


My maples seem to love it but the elms and hornbeams are struggling. I contributed this to the wet soil.

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Re: Need some help with pine bark for soil

Post  coh on Thu Jul 25, 2013 5:53 pm

I will repeat my advice from the other forum: if possible, get some of your trees to an experienced grower in your area for an in person evaluation and recommendations. I don't know exactly where you're located, your profile on bnut says "south central PA". So perhaps you're within an hour or two of Nature's Way? Pretty good resource right there. If not, find the closest club and contact them.

My guess is that some of your trees are having root issues and when you give them more sun, the water stress shows up as damaged leaves. But these things are really difficult to diagnose via internet. By the way, I've got a Chinese elm and a couple of hornbeams that get almost full sun and they have no leaf issues.

The other thing regarding soils - if you're having trouble putting together a mixture that works, for whatever reason, you might consider just buying some pre-mixed soil (again, perhaps Nature's Way has something) and using that for the struggling trees while you work out a cheaper mixture. It can seem fairly expensive but when you compare to the cost of the trees (and emotional turmoil of seeing them struggle/decline/die), it's really not so bad.

Good luck,

coh
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Re: Need some help with pine bark for soil

Post  Mitch Thomas on Thu Jul 25, 2013 8:36 pm

I agree with Coh, a experienced bonsiaist / Retailer / local club,  is the best sorce for the local mix that works for you!
Now as far as elms go I use 100% diatomaceous earth oil sorb with good success and no leaf burn. Hop hornbeems the same. But that's just me, I'm sure someone will chime in with another opinion.
I am always sceptical when one advises FULL sun on almost any trees, at least down here. I've been to many gardens where someone advises full sun only to find a high fence or overhead tree shade to protect them.
(Pot temperature is the real killer here). Then a inexperienced grower tries the FULL sun thing only to Fry their trees.  Oooops there I go again! Bottom line is err on the side of caution in all matters Bonsai.

Mitch

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Re: Need some help with pine bark for soil

Post  coh on Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:15 pm

Just to clarify - I'm not necessarily advocating full sun for his trees, just stating my conditions. And there is a caveat - my growing area does lie just under the edge of a large tree. So, when the sun is highest, roughly from early June through mid July, my trees do get shade after 2-3 pm, depending on exactly where they are located. By now, though, with the decreasing sun angle, most of my trees are getting sun through at least 4 pm and some are literally in "full" sun.

Chris

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Re: Need some help with pine bark for soil

Post  remist17 on Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:41 pm

I have not had very good luck with the local clubs in my area. Lets just keep it at that.

I do not feel the trees need more sun after talking to some people on the phone. My soil is way to organic and is not allowing the water to leave and the roots to "dry" out some. After poping a tree out of the pot I saw evidence of this. The soil is packed solid around the bottom.

After talking to several people I will be moving to a more inorganic soil of turface and a small amount of pine bark.

Thank you


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Re: Need some help with pine bark for soil

Post  marcus watts on Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:00 am

i've been keeping trees just over 24 years now and have gone through most soil recipes and ingredients out of curiosity, experimentation etc - pine bark is a pointless inclusion, do a little basic horticultural (not bonsai) research and you find it actively depletes the soils nitrogen while it decomposes - this makes controling fertiliser and tree health harder than it should be. I have used bark mixes and certainly struggled with yellowing leaves and needles but the same trees stay greener when repotted into bark free mixes and otherwise treated the same. bark is for orchids, mulching and weed control in my garden, not bonsai pots anymore.

before adding any soil component decide what it is doing to actively help the tree....if you dont know why it is in there leave it out - you dont need organics to hold moisture either as many inorganic ingredients hold water if they are porous

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Re: Need some help with pine bark for soil

Post  tombeur on Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:54 am

remist17 wrote:The soil is packed solid around the bottom.


Are you sifting the fines out?

Cheers,

Steve

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Re: Need some help with pine bark for soil

Post  Just Mike on Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:04 pm

so...a couple things...i doubt you will need to water morning and evening...especially if they are only getting 3 hours of sun a day...really...your trees would reward you if you gave them more sun...when it comes to j. maples, its not so much the amount of sun they get, so much as the type of sun they get...my maples get california sun from morning until 2 pm, at which time they get full shade from a fence...they also acclimate themselves to sunlight (though this may take a few years)...you might want to look into moving them into a spot that gets more sun in the morning, and shade in the afternoon...you could also build a simple frame and use shade screen to daple the sun...they could stay under this in full sun all day and thrive...

the next thing is about organics...i agree with Marcus as far as bark goes...its not really needed, and in some cases could do more harm than good...if you are going to use bark, then i would suggest 1/8" clean, or even 1/4" clean...and give it a quick sift just to make sure...and even then i wouldnt use more than 20% bark...

another thing about maples...they really dont need as much water as common knowledge states...im not saying they are a cactus or anything like that, but i notice people looooove to over-water maples...they dont like to be dry, but really dont like to be wet either...

Just Mike
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Re: Need some help with pine bark for soil

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