My first repotting

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My first repotting

Post  pizzarhett on Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:15 pm

I have a chinese elm and it needs to be reported really bad. I don't want to reuse the soil it has. But I also don't know what to look for in soil. I've looked around the interweb and there are so many options. I saw a repotting kit on eastern leaf, but again I don't know if it's what I need. I don't need a lot of it seeing as I only have one plant right now. I do plan on getting a lot more in the future. So my question is where can I get a good price on good soil? What all do I need to conquer my first repot? Thank you!

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Re: My first repotting

Post  MrFancyPlants on Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:55 pm

You should go for the calidama. If you could make the drive to Fresno, I bet it would be way cheaper than paying shipping, but I just bought a box myself just to try using the 'native' akadama. I plan on mixing it in with pumice lava and spaghnum, but I bet you could use it all by it's self, especially since you don't get any hard freezes in your area. Be sure to learn how to secure the tree in to the pot with wire without letting the wire dig in to any potential neberi down the road, although sometimes I just leave a large rock on top of the soil to secure it in place until the roots are established.

(PM'd ebay link to calidama from Fresno)

David

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Re: My first repotting

Post  bottasegreta on Thu Aug 28, 2014 8:58 pm

Hi there,
It seems substrate iterations are infinite, so I don't mind chiming in with my two cents: I use Napa Auto Parts oil absorbant. It is 100% diatomaceous earth. I know it's not a very romantic option, and I would love to make my own soil mixes out of pumice and lava and all those wonderful substrates, but the diatomaceous earth is about $7 for a 20 pound bag, and I can go buy it right down the street whenever I need it (which is nice when you wait to do everything at the last minute like I do). Might be a good option to hold you over til you can get more info on what is best for you. The only draw back is that it's VERY dusty and if it's too dusty when you use it, it will mud up and won't drain. I aliquot what I need, wash it thoroughly with water, then set it out in the sun until it's dry (might take a day or so, just plan ahead). I am a student, and have trouble finding time or money to invest in researching soils , and my trees thrive (or at least appear to thrive) in this soil so I'm sticking with it for now.

P.S. This article was a good read when I was sweating soil, watering, fertilizing, etc.

http://walter-pall-bonsai.blogspot.com/2010/06/feeding-substrate-and-watering-english.html

Good luck. And remember: no risk, no reward.

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Re: My first repotting

Post  ironhorse on Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:55 pm

Don't overthink the soil issue - any free draining mix will do for Chinese Elms, and indeed for most species. I use sieved peat compost and vermiculite for most, half & half as a general rule, a little more organic for trees like Dawn Redwood which prefer more moisture, say 70/30, more inorganic for Junipers & other conifers, say 30/70. There are as many soil mixes as there are Bonsai growers, or it may seem that way.

Dave

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Re: My first repotting

Post  KennedyMarx on Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:51 am

Are you sure it needs repotted? What's wrong with it? If it's just in nursery soil you could slip it into a slightly larger container (wider not taller preferably) and fill the sides in with whatever potting soil is cheap at your local big box store. That will tide you over until spring when you can do a full repot, work the roots, and put it in bonsai soil.

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Re: My first repotting

Post  pizzarhett on Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:19 am

Oh that's a good idea! You hit the nail on the head! I bought it a month ago and it is doing fine but I feel like the soil it's in is cheap and won't hold water. I am a tinkerer and want to know what the roots look like and get good soil and make the best bonsai I can grow. The bonsai club in my city meets on 2 days that I work so the internet is all I got.

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Re: My first repotting

Post  JimLewis on Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:45 pm

Be careful about soil that "holds" water! It is very easy to overwater a potted tree. The soil should be allowed to get fairlydry before more water is applied.

Keep a chopstick jammed deeply into the soil. Pull it out every day and feel the dirty end. If it feels damp, DO NOT WATER. If it is dry, water.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: My first repotting

Post  ironhorse on Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:22 pm

I usually water when the pot feels 'light' - this is something which comes with practice, it has the added benefit that you get to closely inspect the tree regularly for bugs and general health. Of course, when you get a lot of trees this takes time, lots of time...

Dave

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Re: My first repotting

Post  Precarious on Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:03 pm

Similar to ironhorse, I use something locally available and inexpensive, and then simply adjust the components based on the trees' needs. #1 chicken grit and a small-sized pine bark (for instance, soil pep) works well for me, based on a healthy network of fine roots when I repot. 50/50 for tropicals, more chicken grit for my junipers and even more for my succulents/cactus. When it's a typical 90 deg and 60% humidity during a summer day here, I water once/day (don't have the luxury to water 2x/day or I would select coarser materials).

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