Best soil for ficus?

Ichigo

Sapling
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
Location
Florida
USDA Zone
10
What kind of soil mix would work best for a ficus? Additionally, would akadama be overkill?
 
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
Jerry, the author of the best book on Ficus bonsai to date, taught me about the mix I use for my Ficus, 50% fresh fir bark and 50% lava rock.

That's it, two components, mixed in equal proportions. Sounds simple because it is simple and my Ficus absolutely love it.

The attachments below are of the mix and the separate components with a dime for scale.



Will
 

Attachments

Ichigo

Sapling
Messages
27
Reaction score
0
Location
Florida
USDA Zone
10
I'm not sure that I've ever seen fir bark anywhere. Would that be in the mulch section of most garden centers? In my area it is usually just cypress mulch.

Also, do you think I could substitute Texas grit for the lava rock? It is about the same size as the lava in the photo. I've only seen lava rock finely crushed or in large pieces around here.

Edit: Is fir bark orchid mix?
 
Last edited:
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
I'm not sure that I've ever seen fir bark anywhere. Would that be in the mulch section of most garden centers? In my area it is usually just cypress mulch.

Also, do you think I could substitute Texas grit for the lava rock? It is about the same size as the lava in the photo. I've only seen lava rock finely crushed or in large pieces around here.
You could substitute crushed toilet seats and chopped up pallets if you wanted. I took the time and made the effort to find exactly what I was told to try, I am glad I did.

I get the fir bark at a local bonsai shop in large bags, it may take some shopping and effort but it can be found. If all else fails, fir bark is the usual ingredient in any orchid mix, which can be found, at a higher price, in most box stores.

Lava rock is great, it's porous and shaped roughly so it holds not only water, but allows for air as well. Again, it may take some effort to find but it is well worth it. The brand I use is from the Colorado lava rock company in Colorado, you can find them on-line.



Will
 
Last edited:

Zappa

Yamadori
Messages
99
Reaction score
1
Location
Clarksville, Tennessee
USDA Zone
7
Ficus seem to be incredibly resilent...I'm currently growing eight in three different kinds of soil. I have some growing in 100% fired clay...some growing in 50/50 fired clay/pine bark...and some growing in 50/50 fired clay/sphagnum. I havent noticed any difference in the developement of any of my ficus(I started them all at the same time). I've even seen friends growing ficus in potting soil.

I think it just comes down to your watering habits, and if you leave them outside during the summer, the dryness of your summer.
 

Vance Wood

Lord Mugo
Messages
13,599
Reaction score
15,703
Location
Michigan
USDA Zone
5-6
I'm not sure that I've ever seen fir bark anywhere. Would that be in the mulch section of most garden centers? In my area it is usually just cypress mulch.

Also, do you think I could substitute Texas grit for the lava rock? It is about the same size as the lava in the photo. I've only seen lava rock finely crushed or in large pieces around here.

Edit: Is fir bark orchid mix?
What ever you do, do not use Cypress Mulch in Bonsai. This stuff because of its physical shape, long and stringy, acts like straw when mixed with mud---it makes bricks. It tends to bind the soil mix together; something you do not want.
 

Rick Moquin

Omono
Messages
1,245
Reaction score
8
Location
Dartmouth, NS Canada
USDA Zone
6a
I think it just comes down to your watering habits...
... and that just about sums it up for many, along with individual climate differences.

I am fortunate I can get Sequoia bark of the right size at the Orchid society here at their annual convention. Orchid mix as Will stated is also a good alternative and a pricey one since it requires a quick trip in the blender for our use. The good side of this mix, it contains horticultural charcoal which is beneficial to our plants.

Having said all that, one should aspire in finding the right components as mentioned in ones local area. If I recall correctly, Miami Tropical sells various soil components. Albeit these would be a little pricier thatn finding them locally, an alternative nonetheless.

BTW, Jerry's mix is a proven and established mix suitable for many environments. Although there is no such thing as "the soil recipe" I believe this one would indeed be a runner up.
 

Tachigi

Omono
Messages
1,201
Reaction score
32
Location
PA.
USDA Zone
6b
Lava rock is great, it's porous and shaped roughly so it holds not only water, but allows for air as well. Again, it may take some effort to find but it is well worth it. The brand I use is from the Colorado lava rock company in Colorado, you can find them on-line
.

This not not the best place to go for a single bag. They are minimums are extremely cost prohibitive unless your ordering 3 pallets or more. There are a lot of bonsai suppliers out there that offer lava including myself. This would be the preferable way to go.

Lava and grit are two different entities and each serves a seperate purpose. There similarities end at them both being inorganic. To start lava's pH is slightly different than from most grit. It also has small pores to that allow fine feeders to invade that pore space. Allowing a maximum amount of room for root growth. This being a basic fundamental of bonsai culture. Another attribute of lava is it's ability to hold about 60% of its weight in water. One reason a lot of people can get pines to grow in neat (straight) lava.

If you find that fir bark is a unattainable commodity. You could opt for pine bark. About the only time I use pine bark in a soil mix is with tropicals, as my other soil mixes use sphagnum as an organic replacement for bark. I have had great success with a 50/50 mix of lava and pine on my ficuses.
 
Messages
2,776
Reaction score
15
Location
Michigan, USA
USDA Zone
5
.

This not not the best place to go for a single bag. They are minimums are extremely cost prohibitive unless your ordering 3 pallets or more. There are a lot of bonsai suppliers out there that offer lava including myself. This would be the preferable way to go.
This is true. However, a quick phone call to the company will usually produce distributors in your area. ;)



Will
 

Pattik

Yamadori
Messages
69
Reaction score
22
Location
Coarsegold, California
USDA Zone
9
I know this is an old thread, but.....

I'm not sure that I've ever seen fir bark anywhere. Would that be in the mulch section of most garden centers? In my area it is usually just cypress mulch.

You might try Repti-Bark at any petstore like PetSmart or Petco in the reptile section. Its pure fir bark fines. Its currently on sale at PetCo 24 qts for $17.24
 
Last edited:

linlaoboo

Mame
Messages
226
Reaction score
3
Location
New Jersey
USDA Zone
6b
a very nice forum member uses New Zealand fir bark called chiata. The Reptile barks is all kinds of red looking, I bought a bag myself.
 

Gaitano

Mame
Messages
134
Reaction score
73
Location
St. Louis Missouri
USDA Zone
5B
Repti bark

I have tried it, I got a bag over the winter when there wasn't a good selection of organic components at the garden centers. It needs to get screened down, lots of bigger pieces, but it will retain moisture and help keep the soil free flowing. Not a bad option, if you can't find anything else. I have since found a bag of mulch that contains leaf litter and ground, screen hardwood fines.
 

edprocoat

Masterpiece
Messages
3,419
Reaction score
320
Location
Ohio/Florida
USDA Zone
6
What ??? You guys use soil !


Lol, at least that has been the friendliest soil mix debate I have seen to date :)

ed
 

GrimLore

Bonsai Nut alumnus... we miss you
Messages
8,502
Reaction score
7,380
Location
South East PA
USDA Zone
6b
All that being said... Ficus will grow in just about anything, whatever you choose be prepared to learn what the water, fertilizer, and humidity requirements are for each plant :cool:
 

JD_SouthFL

Seedling
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
South Florida
USDA Zone
10b
I grow my tropicals in a soil mix very similar to what many of you are describing, in that it is 50% organic / 50% inorganic.

As follows:
  • 50% pine bark
  • 25% lava
  • 25% diatomaceous earth

I get my pine bark from a local landscaper. It is sold as "pine bark fines", and I pay $7 for what I believe is a 30lb bag. I get my lava from the same place, though it is a few dollars more expensive.

The diatomaceous earth I buy as "Oil Dri" from the local autoparts store. $4 for a 10lb bag. Lasts 2 years between repottings no problems, no breakdown.

My tropicals thrive in this stuff.

-JD
 
Top Bottom