Dunk tank......do you have one?

nsmar4211

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As my trees and I are roasting and the window a/c barely keeps up, it's almost time for me to dunk the plants again. I try to do this every few months to all of them and am always amazed that no matter how well I think I've watered they're still not drenched! Ever try watering till you think it's soaked and then dunking the plant and watching all the air bubbles?

Currently I use whatever I have on hand, buckets or concrete tubs or livestock feed holders. I got to thinking I should probably pick one thing and dedicate it for dunking to eliminate the "what was the last thing I put in here..." question as I'm filling it up. Does anyone else dunk plants and if so, what do you use?

Caveat: I live in South Florida, all of my plants are outside, I water with well water, most of my plants are in 80-100% turface mixes currently and 95% of them are Portulacaria afra (hence the reason I don't have to dunk more often). I also don't water a dunked plant again until the top part has dried out! I also dunk my jaboticaba pre bonsai and a few other non ports in the water first as I don't fertilize them as heavily and am trying to kinda flush out the ferts :)
 
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Nope... :) Not a fan of dunking because it's too easy to spread things if you end up with an infestation. It's sort of like coitous that way...lol Sleep with someone, sleep with everyone they've every slept with. :p

V
 

digger714

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I agree Victrinia. Trees need air to live as much as water, so i dont dunk them unless i am repotting with dry soil. Then putting in to get the initial air bubbles out, but always top water otherwise.
 

Smoke

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Nope... :) Not a fan of dunking because it's too easy to spread things if you end up with an infestation. It's sort of like coitous that way...lol Sleep with someone, sleep with everyone they've every slept with. :p

V
You got a problem with sleeping with everyone?:p
 

HotAction

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only if they have a moustache:eek: No dunking here, not even on a repot.
 

mcpesq817

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...most of my plants are in 80-100% turface mixes currently...
That might be part of the problem. I've noticed that 100% turface mixes, when combined with organic fertilizers, tends to lead to a lot of clumping and crusting of the turface, leading to dry spots. This only became apparent to me when I could see dry spots when using pond baskets, no matter how much I watered. Because of this, I'm not much of a big fan of using 100% turface anymore when using organic fertilizers, though I noticed that the root growth on trees like maples potted in only turface was fantastic (those trees only were given inorganic fertilizers).

I have noticed that this crusting/dry spot situation is cut down significantly if you mix the turface with other soil components, so that's what I currently do.
 
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That might be part of the problem. I've noticed that 100% turface mixes, when combined with organic fertilizers, tends to lead to a lot of clumping and crusting of the turface, leading to dry spots. This only became apparent to me when I could see dry spots when using pond baskets, no matter how much I watered. Because of this, I'm not much of a big fan of using 100% turface anymore when using organic fertilizers, though I noticed that the root growth on trees like maples potted in only turface was fantastic (those trees only were given inorganic fertilizers).

I have noticed that this crusting/dry spot situation is cut down significantly if you mix the turface with other soil components, so that's what I currently do.
I don't tend to use 100% inorganics... however I would say that the trees I have that are in them are composed of a variety of substrates which involve similar but varying sizes and water retention qualities. My experiance is that this helps with clogging issues and compaction. :) They can't fit together perfectly, allowing for gaps and air pockets.

V
 

mcpesq817

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I don't tend to use 100% inorganics... however I would say that the trees I have that are in them are composed of a variety of substrates which involve similar but varying sizes and water retention qualities. My experiance is that this helps with clogging issues and compaction. :) They can't fit together perfectly, allowing for gaps and air pockets.

V
I think that's probably right - at least in my unscientific opinion :)
 

nsmar4211

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*pretends innocence* not even touching the line vics responders went over hahaha


Vic, as to the spreading of nasties, my plants are pretty much up against each other anyway. Half of em are on levels so the lower ones get the backwash of the upper ones. And since most of em are portulacaria, there's not much that bothers them. I've dealt with scale and a submersion in water overnight (soap added if bad) takes care of that. New plants get quarantined up front and don't get to join the others until they've been repotted unless I keep em completely by themselves!

mcpes, you bring up a good point re fertilizers. I mostly use inorganic fertilizers, although the "other" species not in 100% turface get goat poo top dressing when I feel like breaking out the buckets and shovels. You're right, turface and organic fertilizers can lead to a clumpy mess. I'm lazy and like the miracle grow/ slow release route.

One thing I have done along the lines of dunking is to make a big vat of fertilizer up (water soluable) and dunk everyone versus handpouring the cup into the pot. Only done when I'm doing a major rearranging though....defeats ones of the purposes of dunking (draining out the buildups).

Oh, and I do change out the water if it gets too dirty :)
 

Jay Wilson

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I don't dunk..it's just too much work.:eek:

I deal with the dry spots that seem to occur in most of my pots by adding a little dish detergent (maybe a teaspoon per gallon) to the fertilizer water once a month or so or when I notice a dry spot or two.

I pot in a turface and pine bark mix- maybe 60/40 - with a little peat thrown in for the D trees.
 

rockm

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If you have to dunk your plants so often, you may have soil and root issues and not watering issues. The roots may be impeding water, or so thick that they're shedding water. Same with the soil. If that's the case, pushing a chopstick through the root mass to the bottom of the container over and over again about 1" apart will help aereate the soil, promote drainage and better water penetration through the root mass.

Dunking is a very bad way to water bonsai, even occasionally. It tends to keep the inner root mass far too wet- especially indoors. It definitely promotes root rot. Dunk watering also tends to push impurities back into the soil mass. As you dunk plant after plant, all the unused fert and other stuff that would be washed away is pushed back into the soil of each subsequent plant. That can lead to salt build up and/or root rot problems down the road.

Top watering flushes the soil and all that stuff ends up in the drain or on the ground.
 

bretts

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I love Dunking. Generally I water from above but find Dunking very handy some times.
I usually dunk my Bonsai that are indoors for the Winter. It is so easy to fill the sink pop the tree in leave it sitting there until I remember to pull the plug or put it beside the sink to drain.
Also as I have a large bin full of water near my bench and some times when I have just a couple of small trees to water it is easier to just dunk them instead of getting the hose or filling the watering can.
The disease issue is a new one to me and I will have to consider this considering what disease we get here can be spread in this way. But I don't believe any of the suggestions that it doesn't flush just as when watering from above. I think it could flush even better.
Maybe if you only have a dunk pot that goes half way up the pot and you wait for surface tension to suck the water up but I fully submerge, maybe more than once if I am not in too much of a hurry, when I dunk and plenty of water goes in through the top and flushes out the bottom.
As fate dictates the ones that dry faster than others are often the odd ones out that get watered this way. Maybe it could be due for a repott or maybe it is just using alot of water, dunking guarantees it is storing as much water as possible.
I have found advantages to dunking but never experienced any disadvantages.
 

rockm

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"But I don't believe any of the suggestions that it doesn't flush just as when watering from above. I think it could flush even better."

It does so only the FIRST time you do it. The water that drains from the pot--if it's allowed to go back into the tank, is what you're dunking subsequent plants in. If you're allowing the water to drain somewhere else, then what you say could be true. But that leaves the soggy soil issue on the table. Dunking, even twice a week, can leave the interior root mass soggy, even if the surrounding soil dries out. That constant wetness on the interior will rot roots. I've learned the hard way...

Dunking should only be used occasionally, if at all. There are more negatives associated with it than good.
 

nsmar4211

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"It tends to keep the inner root mass far too wet- especially indoors. It definitely promotes root rot."

Errrrr not when you use pretty much all turface like I do :). And mine are all outside in hot Florida sun :).


One good point-I don't drain the plants back into the tub, I let em drain on the shelf. I drop the first pot in and go grab the next one, usually by then the bubbles have stopped. I take out the first plant stick in the second, put the first one back in its place.....I always end up soaked because I forget that arms over the head while holding draining pot means arms with water running down them! Brrrrrrr. I end up having to refill the tub after about 20 plants (or fewer if they are big) :).
 

Si Nguyen

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I dunk a few of my trees occasionally in the summer. If you have an old rootbound tree with poor soil and you haven't got time to repot, and if the rootball is drying out, then it is good to dunk it. Dunking will get the rootball evenly moist again, and get you back on track for regular watering. Sometime surface watering alone may not be enough to get the center of the root ball moist , especially if one has old soil with some organics or peat in it. Once the peat or bark had dried out, it will actually repel water, and surface spray will just run off the sides. Dunking is the best way to resoak a dry rootball. I use a cement mixing tub from HomeDepot for my dunking. It cost about 5 dollars.
 
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rockm

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"Errrrr not when you use pretty much all turface like I do"

I would not be so sure. Have you actually looked or monitored the moisture levels you're talking about? I have seen turface retain quite a bit of water underneath trunks and down through pots even though the surface and outside perimeter appeared quite dry...The bigger the tree and pot, the slower it will dry, even in full sun, especially in full sun with 60 percent relative humidity or above...

"One good point-I don't drain the plants back into the tub, I let em drain on the shelf. I drop the first pot in and go grab the next one, usually by then the bubbles have stopped. I take out the first plant stick in the second, put the first one back in its place.....I always end up soaked because I forget that arms over the head while holding draining pot means arms with water running down them! Brrrrrrr. I end up having to refill the tub after about 20 plants (or fewer if they are big) ."

Unless you're very quick moving the plant onto the shelf, you will wind up draining some water back into the tank. Do this for a number of plants in succession and that's not an inconsiderable amount of "backwash" in the tub...
 

bretts

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Sorry Rockm but apart from the possibility of spreading disease(which could also happen on the bench without good quarantine practice) I just don't see how dunking is any different except it ensures what we try to do when we water on the bench which is to wet the entire root ball.
If there is a problem with water under the trunk then I would say the problem is not with dunking. Maybe there is old clay there or something:confused:
If I ever have trouble with a medium pot tree combination staying to wet it will be at the bottom of the pot due to the physics of water tables not beneath the trunk ?

I have a large water barrel with a flip top lid (it started out as my rain water collection) and I am careful not to dunk trees that will expel alot of crap such as a tree that is staying wet too long or a freshly repotted tree that needs the last of the fines washed out. My water is always clear and I can see a handful of stones at the bottom. In the heavy watering season this empties and is cleaned a few times a year.
Spreading disease is a valid concern and without giving it much thought I have only dunked healthy trees. Like I said I have found no problems with dunking but maybe one day it will cause me a disease issue and I will have to rethink what has worked very well for me so far.

I think it is the book. The Art of Natural Bonsai that has an experiment of a little elm that was not repotted for 27 years. It has a root ball like a golf ball with the cover taken off. Without dunking that tree would have died. To me dunking is just another tool to be used as you see fit. Sure there are some circumstances I do not find it useful but I find it a very handy effective way to water some trees some times.
 
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rockm

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"If there is a problem with water under the trunk then I would say the problem is not with dunking. Maybe there is old clay there or something"

Which is what I said three or four posts ago. Dunking can make a bad root problem worse, as it keeps moist soil wet and if done constantly, like every other day or a couple of times a week, the interior stays soggy. This is especially true of plants with dense root masses planted in free draining soil like turface, the exterior can dry out, while the interior is soaked.

I use this only occasionally, as when a tree's leaves are wilted from sun or heat, or right after repotting, but other than that, I don't do it.
 
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