Author Topic: Tell me about your soil components  (Read 6065 times)

subnet_rx

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 26
Tell me about your soil components
« on: July 15, 2009, 10:58 PM »
The perfect soil mix is something I am struggling with right now.  I realize that some use different mixes for different trees, but the components are usually largely the same from what I gather.  I've read and read and read on this subject.  I observe what nurseries use.  I've observed what bonsai growers in my area use.  Almost none of it matches up to recommendations I get on forums like this.  I'd not like to start a discussion on soil mix, but simply everyone put in a reply describing what they use as standard components for their trees.  Thank you in advance for your input.   
 

Dave Murphy

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 207
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2009, 07:43 AM »
turface:grit:lava, equal parts.
 

MatsuBonsai

  • John Callaway
  • Administrator
  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1398
  • Thanked: 6 times
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2009, 08:13 AM »
Equal parts akadama, lava, and pumice with a handful of decomposed granite and charcoal.  All screened to 2 sizes.  Small size for shohin and moisture loving trees, medium size for conifers.  I don't have a lot of large trees, but if I did I would have one more size soil.

Oh, and equal parts kanuma and pumice for azaleas.
 

AlexV

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 128
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2009, 12:28 PM »
Equal parts akadama, pumice and black lava with a sprinkle of charcoal.  I vary the amount of akadama with more for moisture loving plants.

Alex
 

rockm

  • Sr. Forum Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 299
  • Thanked: 3 times
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2009, 02:32 PM »
There is no "perfect" soil mix. Your search is futile  ;D.

Homemade soil mixes depend largely on what's available locally and what works locally. Ingredients vary region to region in the US. For instance, I use haydite (shale expanded by heat in an oven), crushed quartz sand (or crushed poultry granite) and baby orchid bark as a basic mix. I use those ingredients because they're readily available here in Va. at a relatively low bulk price.

I could use a mix based on crushed lava and other stuff. Some folks in Cal. swear by this, and even growers here in the East.  It's very expensive though. I cannot afford to use it because making 400 lbs of it would cost me alot of money.

Bottom line, you need a porous, light particle that holds water, drains well, but won't break down over time (years), an organic component (depending on what you're growing) to retain moisture and buffer the soil and a third gritty component that will keep the other ingredients from sticking together.
 

weeijk

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 42
  • Every tree can make bonsai, only some do
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2009, 05:16 PM »
I agree with RockM, soil depends on availability and of the zone you're in. For me in the Netherlands I use Akadama in 3 different fractions, split (used for between pavement stones), little river stones (5-8 mm) and potting soil. In the past I've used seramis (crushed teracottapots) aswell.

For trees in training I use 1 part akadama, 1 part river stones and 1 part potting soil.
For trees in advance stage I use 2 parts akadama, 2 parts split and 1 part potting soil, when it are non conifers.
For conifers I use 1 part Akadama, 1 part split.

Wessel
 

Attila Soos

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2009, 08:05 PM »
I recommend that you have a basic (standard mix), and then you do slight modification, according to species:

This is just my version, I've been using it for over a decade now, after experimenting with everything else before:

Basic mix:
3 parts pumice or crushed lava (the dust sieved out), 1 part baby orchid bark (very uniform, no fine dust whatsoever), 1 part composted oak leaf mulch.

Then, for Pines and junipers I modify it:
4 parts pumice/crushed lava, 1/2 part bark, 1/2 part leaf mulch.

For deciduous, I add 1 part very coarse peat moss to the mix, for more water retention.
4 pumice/crushed lava, 1 orchid bark, 1 leaf mulch, 1 coarse peat moss.

For azaleas:
4 part coarse peat moss, 1 part pumice/crushed lava.

I use the pumice and crushed lava interchangeably, they are very similar in water retention and drainage.

All the above are instant draining mixes. To me, it is important that neither of the component has any dust or fine parts. This ensures that the drainage is perfect. If you have too many fine parts, the whole mix becomes useless, no matter what you use.
 

« Last Edit: July 16, 2009, 08:10 PM by Attila Soos »
 

subnet_rx

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 26
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2009, 09:34 AM »
Thanks for all the replies.  I think the opinion that your soil mix needs to be adapted to your particular climate or area might be more correct than most people know.  Right now, I'm having good luck with 50% Turface/50% Jungle Growth potting mix.  Since I have to order the Turface, I may rotate between that an sand as my inorganic component. 
 

Rick Moquin

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 115
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2009, 10:11 AM »
Your mix contains all moisture retentive components. What is in there for aeration and drainage?
 

subnet_rx

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 26
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2009, 11:30 AM »
To be honest, in 100 degree heat, the Turface isn't as moisture retentive as you'd think.  It starts looking dry in as early as 3 hours after watering.  The potting mix also has perlite which seems to help.  I'll have to say though, that I've put some in pure potting mix, and it's not much better.  Top inch is dry in less than 24 hours.
 

MatsuBonsai

  • John Callaway
  • Administrator
  • Hero Forum Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1398
  • Thanked: 6 times
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2009, 11:38 AM »
And this is how/when/why the great soil debate usually starts.  By matching repotting techniques, watering, and fertilizing you can adapt your soil accordingly, and for the most part vice versa.

For me, I emulate my teacher and follow his instruction as closely as possible as I've seen the results first hand.  That isn't to say there aren't other ways as there most certainly are.  I don't have a lot of extra time to experiment, but if something better comes along I'm sure I would adjust my soil/water/fertilizer/etc. accordingly. 

For now, I continue to use what I know works for me.
 

Jay Wilson

  • Jr. Forum Member
  • **
  • Posts: 68
  • bonsai hermit
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2009, 06:42 PM »


I use about 60% turface, 40% fresh pine bark and a bit of peat thrown in. I sift  out anything smaller than window screen or larger than 3/8".
For freshly collected trees, I put in 1/3 to 1/2 fresh chopped sphagnum.

I don't mix scientific.... just throw in stuff 'till it feels/looks right.

Jay
 

kcpoole

  • Legit New User
  • *
  • Posts: 28
  • Sopwith Camel - 1916
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2009, 11:55 PM »
I am moving to an Inorganic mix, and as we are starved for the soil components avilable Overseas I am using..
1/3 Zeolite 2-6 mm particle size
2/3 Miadenwell, 2-7 mm

Maidenwell is a Diatomatios Clay product mined in Quennesland and is readily available here.

Both hold water and nutrients well

Ken
 

joe cervantes

  • Full Forum Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 102
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2009, 11:59 PM »
Hi y'all. Hope I dont step on this thread but since the subject is soil, I was wondering how do you put these different ingredients together in the pot. Is it all mixed together or layered?? New to Bonsai here and I am getting ready to work with my first nursery stock.First time!! Excited and nervous. Thanks.
 

McBonsai

  • Poster
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Tell me about your soil components
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2009, 05:18 PM »
I am nw here, but I am a member at bonsaichat.net and other forums. The best article I found about soil was on another foum, it is funny too. I hope linking to it is allowed here. http://knowledgeofbonsai.org/articles/care/soil-potting-media/the-secret-to-soil-revealed/