hydroponics for bonsai?

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hydroponics for bonsai?

Post  Forbes on Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:29 pm

Hey all... so I searched for "hydroponics" and didn't get any results... maybe I spelled it wrong, or maybe I'm committing a Bonsai sin... but either way, I figure I'll post this here.

So a guy I work with was talking to me about hydroponics (a subset of hydroculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil - per Wikipedia). I have found that many people grow amazing vegetables and plants using this method (not just pot growers). There is actually a full exhibit at Disney for this! I started thinking... maybe this would work for my little trees. After some research, I did find a few articles and one was from David at Fuku Bonsai, in which he grew a ficus using hydroponics while he grew two other ficus using his regular soil and regular watering techniques. After two years, the one grown hydroponically was about double the size and had double the foliage. Pretty impressive.

So, being that I like to try new things, I created an ebb and flow settup in which I have a large resivoir of water (with nutrients - around 16 gallons). I pump water from that into another bin where my potted plants sit. The bin fills from the bottom and the water rises to near the top of the growing medium in each pot. It stays at this level for about 2 minutes, then slowly all the water drains back to the resivoir. This process repeats three times a day. Plain water will be added as my 16 gallon level decreases. Every two weeks, all water will be removed, tubs cleaned and new water/nutrients added. I currently have my trees under four t8 cool white fluorescents where they have been since fall of last year, about 4-5 months ago. They do still get some sun through an East facing window.

My growing medium is 80% Diatomaceous Earth (NAPA Auto Stores Oil Absorbent, part number 8822) and 20% Perlite. Both hold water well, and the DE is pretty fast draining. I've read this holds up well over time and is a good substitute for Turface which is more expensive and harder for me to get here. The only drawback is a little higher PH (DE has around 7, Turface is around 6, I think). I think my plants will be okay with that range though. I'm currently growing Schefflera, Elm, Brush Cherry, and Cherry Blossom. Nutrients I am currently using is a very diluted 15-8-8. I plan to keep this for a few weeks until the plants adjust then try to find a good quality nutrient to give them. I'm open to suggestions for that.

Anyways, I just wanted to share and see if anyone else has tried this growing method?

Forbes
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Re: hydroponics for bonsai?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:16 pm

Forbes,

I hope you don't get cells forming with water retaining problems. The tomatoes done in hydroponics down here, when ripe, picked and sitting on a counter top would collapse under their own weight.

That said, I am doing growing tests, with just an inorganic and compost. Something like less than 1/3 by volume compost to inorganic [ in this case non porous.] by volume.
Any fertiliser applied will naturally get into the compost.
The inorganic part is glass [ marbles and spheres ] or builder's gravel [ silica ] at 3 mm to 5 mm to 12 mm. Each sze in an individual bonsai pot.
Laters.
Khaimraj

* Fertiliser can also be compost in a fine mesh and suspended in a bucket of water. The liquid is used as fertilier = compost tea.

Khaimraj Seepersad
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