Grow box soil

CamdenJim

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I'm making a number of boxes to use in growing plants this fall/winter, working on landscaping a strange slope in our yard that has potential for a terraced garden. Some of these boxes might find use as grow boxes for bonsai material. That will really be the case if I make a collecting trip to "the farm" in November.

If I do that, what soil should I use? A bonsai mix? potting soil? something else? I will no doubt be collecting only local deciduous or dormant local plants: hawthorn, red maple, honeysuckle azalea (I hope), yaupon, and the like. the only conifers I might bother with are small cedars. I'm in zone 7b, and the plants will come from zone 8 -- not very far away.

I'm open to suggestions and want the plants to survive :)

Jim
 

Zach Smith

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I'm making a number of boxes to use in growing plants this fall/winter, working on landscaping a strange slope in our yard that has potential for a terraced garden. Some of these boxes might find use as grow boxes for bonsai material. That will really be the case if I make a collecting trip to "the farm" in November.

If I do that, what soil should I use? A bonsai mix? potting soil? something else? I will no doubt be collecting only local deciduous or dormant local plants: hawthorn, red maple, honeysuckle azalea (I hope), yaupon, and the like. the only conifers I might bother with are small cedars. I'm in zone 7b, and the plants will come from zone 8 -- not very far away.

I'm open to suggestions and want the plants to survive :)

Jim
When collecting trees for bonsai I always use bonsai soil unless the trees are going into the ground for some benign neglect. This assumes that you'll be watering and feeding sufficiently as if developing bonsai material. With grow boxes you're limiting the space for your trees to grow, so you'll have to compensate with food and water. As long as you plan for this, everything should go well.

Zach
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
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Hi Jim...If the boxes are portable; i.e., have a bottom, use something like Turface, Lava Rock, and Pine Bark (Lowe's: Evergreen Soil Conditioner is perfect), at a 1:1:2 ratio. Just be sure the boxes aren't made much bigger than the diameter and depth of the root ball you collect, otherwise the roots can rot.

If the boxes are more like terrace/retaining walls and have no bottom, you could just loosen and amend the existing soil with some Soil Conditioner and Turface. In the spring, toss in the old soil from healthy trees you're repotting.

If you're a member of the Alabama Bonsai Society, we have some Lava Rock and access to Turface which can be purchased at a great price, just shoot me an email and we'll get you set up.
 

CamdenJim

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Hi Jim...If the boxes are portable; i.e., have a bottom, use something like Turface, Lava Rock, and Pine Bark (Lowe's: Evergreen Soil Conditioner is perfect), at a 1:1:2 ratio. Just be sure the boxes aren't made much bigger than the diameter and depth of the root ball you collect, otherwise the roots can rot.

They're fully portable, Brian. Shallow, with wooden bottoms, ample drainage, and placed over graveled drainage "pits." Had to do it that way, because under a bare inch of soil, there's nothing but rock and clay. Different widths and lengths, placed in such a way I can use the space between them for small in-ground plantings or maybe monkey-poles some day.

No experience with Turface; we've been using a mix from Jane McK (Judy and I are new members) - Haydite and Soil Conditioner. Time to make up some more anyway, so I'm ready to try anything.
 

Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
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No experience with Turface; we've been using a mix from Jane McK (Judy and I are new members) - Haydite and Soil Conditioner. Time to make up some more anyway, so I'm ready to try anything.

Gotcha...next time we're at the BBG potting shed, remind me and we'll grab a few bags of lava rock from the lathe-house for you. It will be a good addition to Jane's mix.
 

Bill S

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Many of those are going to want to be bare rooted to get rid of the field soil/clay anyway, go to a good mix, and save some time doing a couple of repots.
 

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