Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

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Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  aaron on Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:48 pm

I've read that you should check your soil and when the top inch of soil is dry, it's time to water again. My question is, does this rule apply to deeper pots? I have some grow pots that are anywhere from 8 to 16 inches deep.

aaron
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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  Joe Hatfield on Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:55 pm

I was thinking about this also. In my opinion, I would think that it does. I would want the surface roots to get the proper moisture. If you wait too long then the surface roots will dry out. This was my conclusion. I'm sure some wise and all knowing IBC bonsai-wizard will set us straight.. One could only hope I love you

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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  JimLewis on Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:17 pm

Bonsai aren't like plants in the ground, where most of the roots are in the upper "layers" of soil. A tree in a pot has roots going throughout the pot. So the top inch being dry would be OK if there was moisture deeper in the pot.

How do you know? After you've been doing bonsai for a while, you can pick up a pot and know whether it needs watering or not. Dry pots are lightweights. Moist pots are heavyweights. Michael Persiano -- a one time member here, back when we were only an e-mail list, and maybe a bit later -- recommended keeping a chopstick jammed into the pot -- all the way to the bottom. Remove it daily, feel the dirty end. If it was damp, don't water. If dry, water. That's as good a method as any for newcomers to the art.

Generally, a tree can take being a bit dry better than it can take being always wet.

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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  aaron on Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:52 pm

I guess my question was aimed more along the lines of "pre-bonsai" or basically trees in pots, because at least on some the pots I'm using, a chopstick wouldn't go to the bottom. They are also massive, so picking them up is something I'd like to keep to once a year. With the deep pots, I assume that keeping the top inch moist is going to insure that the bottom few inches stays wet on a constant basis. I would imagine that at least some ground soils do the same thing where the top dries from the sun pretty quickly, but a foot or so underground stays rather moist unless your in drought conditions.

aaron
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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  shy on Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:54 pm

Take a look at this link...I'm wondering if there may be models out there that would have longer probe attachments for deeper soils?

http://www.joebonsai.com/bonsai-supplies/bonsai-tree-watering-accessories/moisture-meter-deluxe.htm

Carole

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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  shy on Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:04 pm

My second suggestion...do you think this second tool may work since the pot is made out of clay and this can detect moisture through cement... taking a reading from the outside of the clay container near the top, middle and bottom...I'm thinking the reading data would indicate different stages of moisture at different heights of the outer container?? Just a thought that might just work hehe!

If it does work, it would be a great tool that also would not disturb the roots...but then again I'm new at this so take it with a grain of salt hehe!

http://www.wagnermeters.com/woodworking.php?gclid=COCy5ZuShKECFdV95QodMF4FwQ

Carole

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Top Inch Dry Rule

Post  bonsaisr on Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:12 pm

Moisture meters work on soil, not so much on bonsai media. And the clay of a bonsai pot is high fired, so it is impervious to moisture. There are no shortcuts here. If you have a tree in a very large pot, it should be in very coarse medium.
Iris

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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  aaron on Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:25 pm

shy wrote:Take a look at this link...I'm wondering if there may be models out there that would have longer probe attachments for deeper soils?

http://www.joebonsai.com/bonsai-supplies/bonsai-tree-watering-accessories/moisture-meter-deluxe.htm

Carole

Thanks Carole, but if this meter says there is moisture 12 inches deep, does that mean I would not water? What if the top 6 inches is completely dry and then it starts getting more moist after that?

By the way, I have almost everything I have planted in a Turface/Pine Bark Mulch mixture.

aaron
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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  shy on Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:12 pm

I would certainly ask for someone of more experience to answer this question as I had the opposite question in mind...if the lower part of the pot is still too damp to water and the top is too dry...

I guess it really comes down to proper drainage mix, adding or removing moss if top dries too fast or too slow, how dense the rooting system(see this link as it can also affect the watering)
http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/rootprun.htm

...Like it was mentionned above I would not want to see the roots dry out completely even if they're the top roots. The rooting system's needs and tolerance will also differ from one species to another. I was looking up the information to have a broader guide to help understand the needs of each section of the tree and found this fallowing link that may clarify a few questions by learning the root systems and their unique functions...hope this helps a little it certainly did for me.
http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATPhysiology.html

Carole

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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  shy on Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:37 pm

shy wrote: I've also found this link that explains the most important root system in Bonsai compared to wild trees.
http://knowledgeofbonsai.org/articles/techniques/pruning-trimming-pinching/root-pruning-and-why/


I would certainly ask for someone of more experience to answer this question as I had the opposite question in mind...if the lower part of the pot is still too damp to water and the top is too dry...

I guess it really comes down to proper drainage mix, adding or removing moss if top dries too fast or too slow, how dense the rooting system(see this link as it can also affect the watering)
http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/rootprun.htm

...Like it was mentionned above I would not want to see the roots dry out completely even if they're the top roots. The rooting system's needs and tolerance will also differ from one species to another. I was looking up the information to have a broader guide to help understand the needs of each section of the tree and found this fallowing link that may clarify a few questions by learning the root systems and their unique functions...hope this helps a little it certainly did for me.
http://www.bonsai4me.com/AdvTech/ATPhysiology.html

Carole

shy
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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  JimLewis on Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:06 pm

Are these cuttings or plants?

Don't get fixed on that one inch thing. I've been growing plants for longer than most people here have been alive, and I've never heard of that rule.

If these are destined to be bonsai, what are they doing in such deep pots? They should be in shallow pots -- wide shallow pots. Or grow boxes. Growing them in deep pots just means you have that much more roots work to do when you finally go to make bonsai out of them.

As Iris says, moisture meters aren't suited for things in pots -- notwithstanding what Joe Bonsai says (HINT: Never buy trees from a store that calls them "bonsai trees." They're "bonsai." Period. "Trees" is assumed.)

_________________
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: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  aaron on Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:03 pm

JimLewis wrote:Are these cuttings or plants?

Don't get fixed on that one inch thing. I've been growing plants for longer than most people here have been alive, and I've never heard of that rule.

If these are destined to be bonsai, what are they doing in such deep pots? They should be in shallow pots -- wide shallow pots. Or grow boxes. Growing them in deep pots just means you have that much more roots work to do when you finally go to make bonsai out of them.

As Iris says, moisture meters aren't suited for things in pots -- notwithstanding what Joe Bonsai says (HINT: Never buy trees from a store that calls them "bonsai trees." They're "bonsai." Period. "Trees" is assumed.)

They were grown in the ground and collected by someone else. The collection wasn't done with the goal of it being a bonsai. So, what I have is trees that have the side roots cut at about 6 inches out. I have bottom roots that were cut about 12-16 inches down. It's also very weak, because I have 3 big roots and very little fibrous roots. So, over the next few years, I'm going to work it into shallower pots.

aaron
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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  nip on Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:19 am

Subnet, it also depends on the type of tree you are watering. Some trees prefer to dry between waterings. I live near you and I also use turface/pinebark in 50/50 mix. If your tree is weak then you should keep it shaded and keep it consistently moist until it recovers. In spring I water at least once every 2 or 3 days. I will give them a light sprinkling/misting between waterings if its a hot/windy day and I know the deeper soil is still wet.
In the summer, I water everyday regardless of pot size. Ive lost many of trees over the years by trying to "let the soil dry before watering", which is what most books say. Ive found the best thing to do is just water when in doubt. A day of dry soil in our heat is far more dangerous than a day of over-moistened soil. Watering is not easy to perfect, so dont be discouraged if you lose trees.

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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  aaron on Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:29 am

nip wrote:Subnet, it also depends on the type of tree you are watering. Some trees prefer to dry between waterings. I live near you and I also use turface/pinebark in 50/50 mix. If your tree is weak then you should keep it shaded and keep it consistently moist until it recovers. In spring I water at least once every 2 or 3 days. I will give them a light sprinkling/misting between waterings if its a hot/windy day and I know the deeper soil is still wet.
In the summer, I water everyday regardless of pot size. Ive lost many of trees over the years by trying to "let the soil dry before watering", which is what most books say. Ive found the best thing to do is just water when in doubt. A day of dry soil in our heat is far more dangerous than a day of over-moistened soil. Watering is not easy to perfect, so dont be discouraged if you lose trees.

Thanks for the advice. I definitely found out the hard way last summer on letting them dry out. I lost a couple of trees and I was watering everyday, but I have some that just seem to stay thirsty when it gets over 95. Others, like my junipers and pines don't even seem to blink. That's the other reason I'm going with deeper pots, even when they are bonsai pots, for some trees. The heat seems to be very stressful for shallow potted trees, unless you have the time to water twice per day. It's not perfect, but I'm trying to figure out a system that works for my schedule and environment.

aaron
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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  shy on Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:56 pm

My husband and I own a salt water aquarium business and I was looking at some of our acclimation equipment and I might try them as a drip system when I leave for a few days or on really hot days when my Bonsai would be out of the sun to avoid water/sun burn...

They're very low tech and most people can make similar drips themselves at home...we used to just take air hose/drip tubing that you can find in any fish store or at the pharmacy...using a bag or a bucket placed higher then the drip location to have the water gravity fed we would make a knot in the tubing and tighten or loosen it to get the desired drip rate...

It is basically the same principal as hospital IV drips in the old days.

Here are some links to the ones we have in our store just to give you an idea...I know that there are some made especially for plants but the cost was a little high for a beginner like myself with only 2 trees hehe!

Thought I'd slip the idea in case it may permit you to have more shallow pots without the worry of drying. Its a nice do it yourself little project.

Have a great day,
Carole

http://atlanticreefstore.com/store1/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=967

http://atlanticreefstore.com/store1/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=88

shy
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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  bonsaisr on Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:35 pm

Drip irrigation works well if you have fairly soft water. I once visited a bonsai grower in Israel, where the water is pretty hard. The soil around his drip tubes was full of mineral deposits. Also, there are some plants that need to be watered well, then dry out, rather than constantly moist. I would only use drip irrigation if I had to go away on a trip and couldn't find a plant sitter (that's what bonsai clubs are for). There is no substitute for daily watering & inspection.
Iris

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Re: Top inch dry rule on deep pots?

Post  shy on Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:30 pm

You are certainly right Iris,

Nothing comes close to experienced caretakers for these special trees. I would only use it if I'm not home occasionally for short periods or during really hot days where the evaporation is really high. I live out in the country so I'd hate to ask someone to come twice/day but a combination of a care taker and a drip would put my mind a little more at ease for my situation.

People who have a lot of minerals in their water, it is also a problem for salt water aquariums, corals are also sensitive to any harsh mineral/metal accumulations...we use a RO/DI unit (Reverse Osmosis) to produce pure water with no heavy minerals contained in the final product... it is a bit expensive but very easy to use. There are different grades for different water quantity usage...the one we have at home produces a high volume as we have a 180Gal aquarium and another of 76Gal and this is without counting the sump systems which also hold a great amount of water.

Of course when using an RO unit you need to supplement your corals/plants with good trace elements and food to replenish the amount taken out with the RO unit... It is also the same for human consumption...as only drinking RO water can cause serious health issues and deplete our body of essential minerals...for humans there are additives or different membranes (filters) that can rectify this or taking vitamin supplements.

It makes such a healthy difference on the corals. In our case we had our water tested by a specialized company that most cities would have listed in their phone books...you have to ask for the more extensive testing instead of the basic as this will give you a better description of the mineral contents in your water, this may also give you answers as to why certain trees or plants will not prosper at your home and as Iris mentionned (there will be mineral deposits in the soil of your pots).

Water evaporates but salts and minerals don't so unless your water only has the type of minerals that the plant will or can use as nutrients there will always be an accumulation of minerals in potted soils.

Sorry for the long explanations, I guess I get carried away when it comes to sharing experiences Embarassed

Thanks again for adding to the subject Iris, your experience is always appreciated.

Best of luck in finding different systems that work for each and everyone' s individual needs.

Carole

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