Bonsai soils

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Bonsai soils

Post  jake4bonsai on Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:02 am

Hi all! I know when it comes to talking about soils used for bonsai it can become a very sticky situation but i do have a question. What are everyones recomendations when choosing a soil for our bonsai trees. I live in southern ohio where we have good rains in the spring and fall and moderate rains through the summer. Temperatures do get down to freezing, can even get into the single digets but its rare. Very rare to get below zero but can happen also. If it does get down to the single digets or below zero it only lasts a week at most if that. Its usually a day or two once or twice a season. Summers do get hot but not tropicly hot. Temps do get over a hundred but we usually only get temps over a hundred for a month sometimes a little over. Hotest is 103-104 max usually. temps over that are very rare. The humidity is high though, very high. End of july into august can be humidities 85-100 percent. What would be a good soil mix for a climate like mine? Weather here is very wierd amymore. In winter for an example it was 28 highs and 22 lows for two days and now tomorrow will be 41 highs, thursday 44, and fri 55! The lows are to be in the upper 30s to lower 40s. Its been like this all winter this year so far. Our lowest has been 22 so far and is getting warmer again like i said. Been very abnormally warm this winter. average temps so far have been 45 to 50 degrees. More rain this winter than snow. Ive never seen it stay this warm in winter here although we can have temps sometimes in winter between 50 to 70 but only a day or two. One year i was deer hunting in december in jeans and a tee shirt! but thats usually rare. Except like i said this winter has been very warm. We are just now seeing the coolest temps for the season so far. Summer was normal this past season although longer than usual. The leaves on most of my trees didnt finish dropping until into november and some like japanese maples and chinese elms into the beginning of december. Some of my chinese elms still have some very green leaves. Also my cotoneaster is green as can be and its a deciduous plant. Anyways sorry for rambling, back to the subject. Soils for here, what do you all think? I would like anyone or everyones feed back thats interested in giving it to me. Thanks, Jake

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Re: Bonsai soils

Post  John Quinn on Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:57 am

I am sure you will get some opinions, but check also the results from the Search feature in the above toolbar.
Bonsai Soil

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Soils for Bonsai

Post  0soyoung on Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:15 am

I live on Puget Sound (Pacific NW) where it rains and rains and rains all winter long (and occasionally it snows). From the beginning, I've taken Walter Pall's (apparent) and others advice to use a rapid draining inorganic soil.

I've been using Turface MVP without any troubles. I've also used the finer Turface ProLeague Red but it seems to have a high water saturation level (among other things). I've lost a couple of plants with ProLeague and, in the autopsies, discovered no roots in the bottom 1 to 1.5 inches of the pot.

I get my Turface MVP from a local irrigation supply company. My quick check on www.turface.com found more than six distributors in your area, so you're likely to have little trouble getting it. With WA sales tax, I pay about $15 per 50lb bag. While that isn't cheap as dirt, it doesn't breakdown like dirt. But, you don't throw it away when you repot - you reuse it again and again and again. And it eliminates the possibility of root rot, for all practical intents (IMHO).

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Re: Bonsai soils

Post  bucknbonsai on Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:57 pm

osoyoung, i sieve my mvp turface throgh a standard window screen (about 1mm) do you think that is getting rid of enough small pieces to avoid root rot, or with MVP do you not need to sieve it at all? I know if I try sieving MVP though the smallest storebought bonsai soil screens it seems 80% is wasted, thats why i switched to a homemade window screen sieve.

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RE: Bonsai Soils

Post  0soyoung on Mon Jan 09, 2012 5:44 pm

bucknbonsai,

I haven't sieved MVP and haven't (maybe I should say yet) encountered any problems. I don't find any appreciable amount of fines, even at the bottom of the bag, but I suppose that is a matter of opinion. My test is to load the soil into an otherwise empty pot, water heavily, let dry for a day or two, and "unpot" looking specifically for what is at the bottom of the pot. With any Turface there is some coloration of the water that washes out the first time, so there are dust-like fines, but that seems to be all. A wee bit of this dust is left in the bottom of the pot, but no where near enough to cause (me) any concern. My experience (again, I maybe should say yet) with real plants at repotting time is the same.

Short version: I don't sieve MVP and see no reason to (from the bag).
Addendum: The same is true for ProLeague Red.

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Re: Bonsai soils

Post  Fore on Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:16 pm

I sieve into fines ( great for finishing top soil and filling in low spots in your yard)
The larger grains are what I use for soil. I know of one other guy who even does it 3 x, for a fine, med and lg. grain size. Then use them dependent upon the size of the tree. Always different opinions Very Happy

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Re: Bonsai soils

Post  abcd on Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:07 pm

copy off a pm sent to jake4bonsai but not read :

Hello,
i use pomice only.
I am a SANDRO SEIGNERI SENSEI sudent for 4 years.
Italian people use POMICE only, for all trees , deciduous or persistent trees , and italian bonsai are wonderful trees .
Pomice is cheaper than akadama ( 10$ for 50 liters ) , water-retaining power of the pomice is lower than the akadama, but it s not destroyed because off the freezing , over time , it and can be used indefinitely , it's an inert soil, hydrogen potentiel ( ph ) : 7 8 .
It's very easy to find pomice in FRANCE because it is extracted from LIPARI ISLAND soil , next to italy .

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Re: Bonsai soils

Post  dick benbow on Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:41 pm

When it comes to soils, a lot has to be taken into account. Weather, costs, experience of the keeper and the needs of the trees that are being cared for. The longer you are in keeping trees the more likely you are to work on developing a soil that works for the trees and your area. For example, I love my quince. they favor a deeper pot than is justified for show and they like more moisture than my pines.

Because there are so many things to take into consideration,I think you find someone in your area who has been around and sucessful and emulate them. Our local bonsai retailer carries japanese soils for the club members and advanced hobbyists and make their own blend of two parts drainage and one part moisture retention mix. It's a good compromise for the pacific NW rainy seasons, yet will get you by in the heat of the summer. yet i take this basic soil (pimmace,pine bark, red volcanic rock) and add a 1/4 more pummice. that adjustment is made for me because I as a bonsai keeper, tend to if anything give them more water then absolutely required and it's nice to know that what is not needed is quickly drained away.

So where is that long time bonsai keeper in the southern part of ohio? ( I'm a former buckeye myself)


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buckeye

Post  jake4bonsai on Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:09 am

65 miles east of cincinatti is where i live. The cincinatti bonsai society is the only club and the only bonsai growers at all within driving distance of me and i really dont like going there because they beileve you have to do everything the way they do it or its not bonsai and that i am not equipt to tollerate. For this reason its so hard for me to learn because i have no one to colaberate with and share idieas and exsperiances but im not into being part of a situation like that either. So therefore im between a rock and a hard place.

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Re: Bonsai soils

Post  dick benbow on Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:30 am

I can relate. This type of thing happens in all my japanese hobby clubs. sometimes it just doesn't pay to be a "free thinker" LOL....

hang in there! Smile

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Re: Bonsai soils

Post  JimLewis on Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:53 pm

All of which gets us back to the old conundrum that you need to know the rules or standard operating procedures -- and know them well -- before you can expect to (successfully) fly off on your own. Sometimes, when you are starting out, you NEED to be instructed by those rigid thinkers. After all, it's probably the same advice most of us here will give you also.

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Re: Bonsai soils

Post  Poink88 on Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:15 pm

JimLewis wrote:All of which gets us back to the old conundrum that you need to know the rules or standard operating procedures -- and know them well -- before you can expect to (successfully) fly off on your own. Sometimes, when you are starting out, you NEED to be instructed by those rigid thinkers. After all, it's probably the same advice most of us here will give you also.

I agree. I am a logical thinker and most of the time learn by knowing the reason for everything, how they work, etc. Bonsai goes against a lot of normal (daily & logical) thinking and at first it doesn't compute. I followed it anyways and now the blocks are falling into place.

Every thing has to work together; soil type, volume, roots, water, fertilizer, weather, etc. A mistake on one can negatively impact (even fatal to) your tree. As my understanding of the whole picture unfolds, I give myself some leeway and spread my wings little bit at a time. Being human (and eager) I still fumble and fall. Wink

I am new to this (less than 3 months) and I am glad I followed the "rigid" rules and my plants I think are happier.

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