Fertiliser - when and how

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Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Phil Walsh on Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:30 pm

Good afternoon,

Please could I have some hints and tips on how best to feed the following species;

Carmona Microphylla
Olea Europae
Acer Palmatum Sango Kaku
Pinus Mugo

Any advice on when, how and best products would be gratefully appreciated, thank you very much in advance,

Cheers

Phil


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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  kingbean on Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:26 pm

Hello phil,
With the maple I would use bio gold and wait until the new leaves have hardend about two weeks after they have fully opened.
Bio gold is a slow release organic fertilizer.
Place a few cakes on the top of the soil and change for new as needed stop feeding around august.

kingbean
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Phil Walsh on Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:34 pm

kingbean wrote:Hello phil,
With the maple I would use bio gold and wait until the new leaves have hardend about two weeks after they have fully opened.
Bio gold is a slow release organic fertilizer.
Place a few cakes on the top of the soil and change for new as needed stop feeding around august.
Thanks Kingbean. So you wouldn't liquid fertilise on a regular basis and you'd stop feeding completely from August through the Autumn and Winter?

Phil Walsh
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  stavros on Mon Jan 17, 2011 5:43 pm

Fertilization is closely related to the type of substrate and your water regime, not only to the species. The more inorganic your substrate is the less fertilizer it can hold. Also the more ofter you water, the more often must fertilize. Walter Pall has a very interesting article on the subject that will help you clarify this: http://walterpallbonsaiarticles.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Loke Emil on Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:56 pm

stavros wrote:Fertilization is closely related to the type of substrate and your water regime, not only to the species. The more inorganic your substrate is the less fertilizer it can hold. Also the more ofter you water, the more often must fertilize. Walter Pall has a very interesting article on the subject that will help you clarify this: http://walterpallbonsaiarticles.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

In so many words - because Walter Pall makes perfect sense! ... are you prepared to go 120% into pro bonsai horticulture?... able to dedicate your most precious time to bonsai?... then you can grow master class trees in your own life span. If not a more slow and "forgiving" approach on the traditional side of bonsai would suffice for most bonsai enthusiasts raising children, working hours, walking the dog and giving the beloved other some attention and care too ;-)

I'm looking forward to my retirement years... preparing trees (and senior priorities like 120% bonsai) for it as we speak jocolor

Loke Emil
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  stavros on Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:14 pm

Loke Emil wrote:
stavros wrote:Fertilization is closely related to the type of substrate and your water regime, not only to the species. The more inorganic your substrate is the less fertilizer it can hold. Also the more ofter you water, the more often must fertilize. Walter Pall has a very interesting article on the subject that will help you clarify this: http://walterpallbonsaiarticles.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

In so many words - because Walter Pall makes perfect sense! ... are you prepared to go 120% into pro bonsai horticulture?... able to dedicate your most precious time to bonsai?... then you can grow master class trees. If not a more slow and "forgiving" approach on the traditional side of bonsai would suffice for most bonsai enthusiasts raising children, working hours, walking the dog and giving the beloved other some attention and care too ;-)

I'm looking forward to my retirement years... preparing trees (and senior priorities like 120% bonsai) for it as we speak jocolor

I have started applying this to my trees since 2 years ago. I am not a pro, i do not intent to become one in the field nor i have too much extra time. Working long hours (surgeon), having family, children, dogs and other obligations, does not mean no time for bonsai.... It is possible to work your way around it.

I would be very interested to know what do you mean when you say "forgiving" approach. Because i have found out that the approach described by W.Pall is very safe, as long as you do all 3 things the proper way, that is substrate-watering-fertilizing.


stavros
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  stephen clarke on Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:28 pm

Hi Loke,i to am looking forward to my retirement (next few months)so i can spend loads of time careing for my trees,and hope to justify all the reading i have done.Fingers crossed all goes well

stephen clarke
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Loke Emil on Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:26 pm

[/quote] I would be very interested to know what do you mean when you say "forgiving" approach. Because i have found out that the approach described by W.Pall is very safe, as long as you do all 3 things the proper way, that is substrate-watering-fertilizing [...] Working long hours (surgeon), having family, children, dogs and other obligations, does not mean no time for bonsai.... It is possible to work your way around it. [/quote]

Hi Stavros.

By "forgiving" I mean traditional soil, fertilizing and watering...leaving me more time between waterings... hence less dead trees, but also less rewarding progresses. By "120% pro" I mean skilled, advanced and tightly scheduled technique. I used these words for lack of better words and because Walter stresses that his modern approach is highly fatal if not followed to the point. I for one haven't found the time and means to do so - so far - as my priorities mentioned above have indicated. However, I am glad that you know how to work your way around Walters approach. I will too, one day ;-)

I didn't mean to hurt anyones ambitions, though.

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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  stavros on Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:55 am

I am and will always be a student in bonsai (as with everything else in life), trying to learn the best way to keep my trees healthy, and style them artistically. These are my ambitions Smile No feelings or ambitions hurt here; we are exchanging ideas, thoughts, experiences and we learn from each other.

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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:53 am


Loke Emil I would be very interested to know what do you mean when you say "forgiving" approach. Because i have found out that the approach described by W.Pall is very safe, as long as you do all 3 things the proper way, that is substrate-watering-fertilizing [...] Working long hours (surgeon), having family, children, dogs and other obligations, does not mean no time for bonsai.... It is possible to work your way around it.

Hi Stavros.

By "forgiving" I mean traditional soil, fertilizing and watering...leaving me more time between watering... hence less dead trees, but also less rewarding progresses. By "120% pro" I mean skilled, advanced and tightly scheduled technique. I used these words for lack of better words and because Walter stresses that his modern approach is highly fatal if not followed to the point. I for one haven't found the time and means to do so - so far - as my priorities mentioned above have indicated. However, I am glad that you know how to work your way around Walters approach. I will too, one day ;-)


I do not know how the majority of bonsai enthusiasts or semi-pros manage their daily task of watering and feeding bonsai. But I am sure not many have the time to manage a very demanding watering and feeding technique. And my point is that it isn't necessary to make it very complicated and demanding.

If one uses a soil with no organic material it is likely that the nutrients will flow directly through the soil with the water, and only very little amount will be taken up by the roots. Therefore this kind of soil will demand a scheduled and demanding high amount of watering and feeding.

Using a very well draining growing mixture with organic soil secures both the needed oxygen for the roots (well drained soil is added oxygen when water flows through), and still this soil type will be able to hold some amount of the fertilizer and release it slowly afterwards (depending whats available, but have to be a soil type of good quality). This solution secures you are able to water without staying at home all day, and it is exactly as good as other solutions more demanding.

There will be thousands of different ways of doing this, and many will be as good as another. All depends of how you deal with it, and the time you have available. Also depending on what climate you live in.

Organic fertilizers has a slow release. It is easy to apply but you are not so sure how much you add to the tree, and it is only released to the soil when watering/raining. Advantage is the no-risk of over fertilizing.

Chemical fertilizers works spot on, and the tree reacts promptly. Risk is over fertilizing damaging the roots severely, and advantages is precise control and speed reaction when needed for a weak tree e.g.
As the soil question, the chosen method relates to how you are able to deal with it in daily practice. Each solution for each demand, and can be equally good depending on the need. Just don't make it more difficult than it actually need to be.

Best regards
Morten Albek


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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  stavros on Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:21 am

Morten Albek has put things in the right perspective.
My thoughts:
Due to the fact that the climate where i live is much hotter than most parts in Europe, i use sphagnum peat moss at about 10-20 % with inorganic material (diatomite, moler clay). For conifers and some mediterranean species, I use more inorganic and less (if any) organic. Material porosity plays some part on the holding capacity of the substrate. Particle size also plays a major part on how much water-nurtient is withhold. The smaller the particles, the bigger holding capacity. So, it is possible to "play" with inorganic-organic percentage, but also particle size, to find a suitable kind of substrate that would reflect to your water-fertilization regimen.


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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Phil Walsh on Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:31 am

Stavros, Morten Albek, Loke Emil and Stephen,

Thank you for constructive help! I fit into the category of Bonsai enthusiast who can dedicate time everyday to it but not in huge quantities - I'm jealous of people that can spend vast amounts of time on their trees but it is for me just a gentle hobby. I'm not in a position to be able to source yamadori in great quantities and luckily/unluckily (!) also not in a position to spend too much money on this.

One of the main problems that I have found with Bonsai is that there are so many opinions and proven methods that work! We could all research forever and actually never get on with the hobby! In my (semi-successful) business life I have always stuck with a few tried and tested methods combined with my own mistakes and successes and I think that this is probably the best way for me to study Bonsai. With this in mind who would you, more experienced Bonsiaist's, recommend as my written mentor? Is there an encyclopedia that a simple Bonsaist like myself could use as a bible? Or am I best to continue asking my questions on IBC and getting mixed views and opinions?

Thank you once again,

Phil

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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  my nellie on Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:12 pm

APW wrote: ... ...In my (semi-successful) business life I have always stuck with a few tried and tested methods combined with my own mistakes and successes and I think that this is probably the best way for me to study Bonsai. With this in mind who would you, more experienced Bonsiaist's, recommend as my written mentor? Is there an encyclopedia that a simple Bonsaist like myself could use as a bible? Or am I best to continue asking my questions on IBC and getting mixed views and opinions?

Thank you once again,

Phil
Dear Phil,
Continuing asking your questions here on IBC, continuing reading valid bibliography/articles, consulting bonsai magazines, I think is a safe way to get information.
It may seems confusing at first glance, but soon you will be in a position to make your own estimations (just like you already do in your above mentioned professional life) and keep the most useful out of the whole volume of info.
But the most important is that you will learn your own by applying the consultation you collect on your own trees and having your own successes and failures. This will add exprerience to you.
Participating on IBC is a great advantage since one can read and "talk" with a lot of important, talented and experienced bonsai cultivators, hobbyists, artists.... anyone
This is how I am acting myself, so this is my own personal opinion.

my nellie
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Loke Emil on Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:25 pm

dear Phil

...first off..I'm no way pro or semi-pro what so ever in bonsai. Strictly amateur Smile

My first written mentors were Dan Barton and Peter Adams - They were the only available authorities at the local library back in the early 1990'.

I will forever recommend Dan Bartons "The Bonsai Book (1989). It has since been my dearest reference book on bonsai...and easy read. It is perfect for the amateur bonsaiist, limited to nursery stock, garden plants or some odd schrubbery on the road side. Another benefit to this book is that he never fails to encourage positive thinking in his reader. You'll find all the basic techniques and some advanced. I love it. ;-)

Loke Emil
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  JimLewis on Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:28 pm

Please don't gt all tied up in the mystique of fertilizer and fertilizing.

Plants need NPK and trace elements. Period.

They do not give a tinker's damn how they get this NPK and trace elements.

Inorganic soil? It's perhaps easier for you if you use organic fertilizer every week or two (assuming you can find one with measured amounts of trace elements) because the organic fertilizer molecules adsorb to the inorganic soil and sticks around longer than an inorganic mixture would. If you can't find one with trace elements listed on the label -- add them yourself. 10cc/gallon of water-fertilizer once or twice a summer will do it. Or, fertilize twice as often with an inorganic fertilizer.

Organic soil (e.g. Turface with 20-24% organic material) use an inorganic fertilizer once or twice a week. It adsorbs to the organic particles. Packaged inorganic fertilizers almost always come with the needed trace elements added.

Period.

_________________
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: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Phil Walsh on Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:55 am

Thanks Alexandra, looks like you will have to put up with me pestering IBC on a regular basis!

Loke Emil, thank you for the details of the book, I have had a look on Amazon and there are still some floating around so I shall get one and let you know what I think.

Hi Jim, thank you for the advice - plants need feeding end of story!! When planting shrubs in the garden I have had success in a naturally poor soil by adding general purpose peat based compost and also bone meal with an NPK ratio of 3.5-17-0. Whilst I'm pretty sure you would tell me stay away from the peat based compost, are there any benefits from adding bone meal into the initial substrate? What NPK ratio should I be looking for in a general purpose fertiliser?

Cheers,

Phil

Phil Walsh
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Razvan Savin on Thu Jan 20, 2011 11:22 am

Hi Phil!
Adding to the valuable information already posted by our fellow members, i suggest reading these links:
Fertilizing your bonsai
Limits of Fertilization


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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:14 pm

Hi Jim, thank you for the advice - plants need feeding end of story!!
When planting shrubs in the garden I have had success in a naturally
poor soil by adding general purpose peat based compost and also bone
meal with an NPK ratio of 3.5-17-0. Whilst I'm pretty sure you would
tell me stay away from the peat based compost, are there any benefits
from adding bone meal into the initial substrate? What NPK ratio should
I be looking for in a general purpose fertiliser?

I'm not quite sure how to take that comment, but I can't imagine why I would take exception to much of what you say/ask?

Planting shrubs in the garden is MUCH different from planting shrubs in a bonsai pot and bonsai soil. Depending on the soil, a "peat based compost" may be very appropriate; I suppose a Potassium-free fertilizer may also be, though it would never be my choice.

As for the ratio, I'd always recommend a more-or-less balanced fertilizer with all the micronutrients -- for bonsai. Use of fertilizers with more or less N in the fall is folklore, pure and simple, for instance.

_________________
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: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Phil Walsh on Thu Jan 20, 2011 2:31 pm

Jim please don't feel I was trying undermine you in anyway - what sounded correct and fine to me obviously didn't come across as I wanted it to and I apologise if I caused any offence whatsoever.

Thank you for all of your advice, it is as always most welcome and helpful.

Cheers, Phil


Phil Walsh
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  wabashene on Thu Jan 20, 2011 3:25 pm

Hello Phil,

I don't think we need to over complicate it too much

I'm also an enthusiast/hobby grower with acers, larch, pine, hawthorn, elm mainly growing in 80% inorganic "soil" (Sophisticat Pink and similar) and I do the following.

I bury one Osmocote slow release fertilizer cone under the surface per 6 inch sq of pot surface in March/April . So a 6" x 6" pot get one cone, a 6 x 12 gets two a 12 x 12 gets 4 etc.

This gives a good background level of nutrient every time you water or it rains for 4-6 months imo without obsessing about it

Then once a month (if I remember) I water with full strength bog standard balanced fertilizer for a boost and if I'm really on my game spend some dosh on some miracle trace element provider for an early summer extra.

May also scatter a bit of Growmore on the surfaces occasionally.

I don't think it really matters about ratio of NPK in the main and any decent brand will give you the dilution rate.

The ratios on fertilizer packaging refer to concentration of the NPK ingredients in the total mix expressed as a percentage as you probably know. So a 5: 5: 5: is only 15% (5% of each) active N-P-K and 85% is filler be it water or something solid.

If buying in bulk it may therefore be more economical to go for high ratio of active to filler.

fwiw Walter Pall uses "whatever is on sale cheap at the local garden centre"

A fertilizer with the word "bonsai" on it is likely to be 326 times the price of something labelled as "General Purpose" and likely to be no different.

:-)

TimR

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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Phil Walsh on Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:34 am

Thanks TimR - you find that slow release fertilisers work well and you get good "growth" results from them?

Phil Walsh
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  wabashene on Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:54 pm

Yes , very much so with the provisos stated above.

Growth is not the problem - styling is

:-)

YimR

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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Phil Walsh on Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:10 pm

Sounds good to me - cheers Tim.

You say you use 80% Sophisticat Pink - what constitutes the 20% organic in your substrate?

Cheers, Phil

Phil Walsh
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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  wabashene on Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:35 pm

BandQ Soil conditioner as discussed here post 15

http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t5354p15-acer-palmatum-soil-uk

In reality I have a big bin in a shed that gets all sorts dumped into it and mixed into the top depending on the tree

This shot of mix in a larch gives you the idea. The granite part is horticultural grit and this instance the cat litter is Tesco Premium Lightweight ( now called dust free?) which has a much smaller grain size then Sophisticat



The key is free draining, allowing free watering relatively speaking and a good fertilizer regime.

Hope this helps.

THKS

TimR

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Re: Fertiliser - when and how

Post  Phil Walsh on Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:47 pm

Thanks TimR, very grateful.

Cheers, Phil

Phil Walsh
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