Bonsai Soil Question

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Bonsai Soil Question

Post  Kris on Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:21 pm

Hello,

I started my first bonsai over the weekend. It's a juniperous procumbens nana. My question is about the soil and watering. I purchased Hoffmans Bonsai Mix from a local nursery and it just seems to be almost pure gravel mix with very little soil or organic mixture in it. When I water, it just seems to run right through and it's bone dry by the next day. Maybe this is normal, but as a newb, I'm not sure. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!

Kris
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Re: Bonsai Soil Question

Post  Dave Leppo on Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:46 pm

Basic soil info

more advanced theory

I encourage you to surf around the BONSAI4ME site; lots of good info.

Dave Leppo
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Re: Bonsai Soil Question

Post  dick benbow on Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:49 am

Soil is a topic that gets lots of play but bottom line it helps to find a local mentor. Over the years with yamadori bonsai, I have learned the value of pummice for both drainage and water retention. From the japanese, most use 2/3rds ingrediences for pines with drainage and a third organic, while deciduous is more 50/50 organic and drainage. But as most things in life, you have to find somthing that works for you and the reason why a good mentor can save you time and money.

dick benbow
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Re: Bonsai Soil Question

Post  beer city snake on Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:27 pm

kris - in direct answer to your question, most bonsai substrates (soils) will appear to drain straight through, leaving nothing behind for the tree to drink... but that is only how it looks... most commercially sold "bonsai soils" will have ingredients to also hold some of that water (such as pumice or pine bark bits etc)... the other ingredients are made to not hold water, but instead to provide essential drainage which allows more air to enter the soil which is also critical for strong root development... unless you purchased a highly specialized substrate blend i would not worry too much, but you will find that the these substrates will require more frequent watering than a normal house plant.

also, while the surface of the soil may appear dry in a day, that may not be the case an inch down...

when to water ?

the easiest way to know is to stick a chopstick into the soil, all the way in, and then every day or so, pull it out...
if it is wet/damp - do not water
if it dry - water

also when watering, it does not hurt to water it, then wait a few minutes and water it again, insuring that the particles meant to hold water, have enough water to hold on to...

lastly - i hope you were informed that the tree should be outside spring, summer and fall... and then somewhere cold but protected (like a garage) over the winter as it needs a winter dormancy just like the trees you see outside your window...

but that is another subject and luckily you got your tree at a good time of the year as you have most of this year to learn about it before it has to go to sleep until next spring...

hope that helps... for now. Wink

bonsai can be as hard as you want to make it or as simple as you are comfortable with... depending on what you would like to do with the tree... then more you want to "do" the more you need to know... but just growing one, using basic pruning and horticultural techniques, does not need to be difficult.

either way, it should mainly be fun and enjoyable.

_________________

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By the way, the name is Kevin
link to ARBOR ARTS COLLECTIVE BLOG

beer city snake
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Re: Bonsai Soil Question

Post  Kris on Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:50 pm

Thanks for all the input guys, this really helps. I've done a mountain of research so that I could be well prepared and I knew the soil had to drain well, I just wasn't expecting so much drainage. I'll take your advice and run with it, you've put my mind at ease.

Kris

Kris
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Re: Bonsai Soil Question

Post  M. Frary on Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:18 pm

Check out the Walter Pall method for watering and fertilizing. It's how I roll and it works well for me.

M. Frary
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Re: Bonsai Soil Question

Post  Leo Schordje on Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:11 pm

If you leave the tree at the windowsill, and water with a watering can, the water will run through without wetting the whole soil mass in the pot. You need to take it to the Kitchen sink and flood the pot with water. getting all the media in the pot wet. Then let it drain. Water a second time let it drain, then return to the windowsill. You need to flood the media each time you water.

Hope that helps,

Leo Schordje
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Re: Bonsai Soil Question

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