How high's the water, Momma?

Swami

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You know how I hate to be picky, and you know that I have a thing about this drainage crap and perched water and wet feet and all of that leading to unhealthy trees. Herewith is some documentation that "wet feet" may not be the killer it's touted as by some of you kiddies. Study these pictures and tell me what you see...
East End of Marina.JPG
East Exit.JPG
East outlet.JPG
East side Gloca Mora.JPG
I've left some breadcrumbs for the uninitiated.
 

Forsoothe!

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So, no takers? Nobody want to tell me these trees are going to drop dead tomorrow? I was hoping for a realistic conversation about the real difference between organic and non-organic media, unlike the gobbledegook of the past. Looking at these pictures, one could safely assume that ultra high drainage is not the most important feature of media. There are other contributors to the health of trees, not the least of which is the biome that exists in good garden and/or top soils that doesn't exist in a media where rocks exceed some percentage I could not specify.

Since I am not scientifically trained, I can't articulate the facts, but they are something like this: There are populations of micro-organisms that need this or that combination of mineral constituents in soil. The more varied the minerals constituents, the more varied the populations. There are symbiotic relationships of myriad bacteria, fungi, et al that aid plants gathering resources and keeping the media healthy. If a media is made up of two kinds of rocks and a smattering of organic material it does not provide the wide platform of materials that good top soil does and is missing the biome that needs whatever other mineral compounds that are missing. Also, the size of the particle is important. Only the surface of the particle is available to be used by the biome. The amount of surface area available on one bonsai media rock is thousands of times smaller than the same volume of the mineral fraction of good top soil, and will support a concurrent thousands of times fewer micro-organisms. With a higher organic content which absorbs water by wicking it into its fibers and drys out slower than a free drop of water, a greater volume of the moist organic material can be in contact with a mineral surface making both more available to the biome.

Some of the biome works best in dry soils, some in wet soils. Populations wax & wane as the soil cycles through wet, dry, wet, dry, and the work gets done more or less continuously. If the media is on the dry side for a disproportionate percentage of the time, then the work that needs to be done in the wet period may not get done at all, or not as well as it should or is needed. This, in combination with the smaller, less varied population due to fewer mineral compounds being present makes for a much less efficient media providing less for the plant.

Oxygen is a gas. It permeates the soil and is hard to exclude. It can flow into soils from any surface, not just the bottom of a pot, and will do so as fast than the biome uses it. Nature abhors a vacuum and will fill it with air, immediately. Oxygen is present in water, even standing water. Lots of plants can live with wet feet and manage to get enough oxygen (see photos). The problem with standing water is that it holds the sulfur dioxide in solution which would ordinarily escape as a gas. It becomes a poisonous pool in a container.

There is no argument whether or not root rot kills plants. The question is where does rot root come from? Does it come from roots kept too wet (see photos), or is it the devolution of roots which are in an unhealthy media that does not support the biome that does its job when the media is at the wet end of the wet, dry, wet, dry cycle?

Attention Shallow Bastards of the World: Do not cite your anecdotal experience as an argument. There are thousands of media mixes being used by thousands of B'NUT users which proves only that almost any mix can be used successfully by someone, someplace, sometime. Cite facts. If you are like me and scientifically challenged, get as close as you can to facts and admit it so your offering can be useful in its context.

So B'NUTers, what say you?
 

Joe Dupre'

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My only guess is the lesser amount of oxygen in water and wet soil is not a problem with a tree that has a 15-20 foot diameter root ball. There are enough roots to handle that. The problem lies in reducing that 15 foot bulk of roots into ONE foot of space in a bonsai pot. NOW, your tree may have a problem. That being said, I've kept my 20 different varieties of trees in a 4" deep pool of water several times over a week of vacation. Most trees LOVED it. I have not seen even one tree that showed any signs of stress.

Think about this. Land all over the world floods at different times for days or even weeks at a time. I don't recall any mass dieback of any plants in those situations.

My observation ( mostly a hunch) is that a tree that is not actively growing or is sick, will not transpire the water in the soil and that water will become stagnant and breed unwanted critters and disease.
 
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cmeg1

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I’ve never had root fungus from standing water in trays 😌


I love to see our native swamp maples growing out of the waters around here.
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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Look at the grass. If the soil was saturated with water, the grass wouldn't be scorched. It would've been lush all over instead.
Those trees, like many trees near the water line, don't root deep. I wonder why that is.. Maybe because the roots die if they go below the water line?

A Bnut member posted after hurricane pictures a year or two ago. The root base of a pine didn't do more than a foot down into the earth.

I own a swamped forest, the deepest roots are maximum 120cm deep, and only swampwater loving species go that deep. All the rest stops at around half that, and spreads to the sides instead.

I'm growing a juniper in water, the truth is that it's doing OK. It all depends what you're looking at and how you're looking at it.

The water table in my pots is way higher than the water table in my back yard. That's why I see over watering issues in my pots and not in the lawn.
 

jaco94

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A hypothesis: the answer may be linked to the adaptability of trees.
If they have managed to grow in this environment, they certainly have developed special characteristics, but if you plant a tree there that has grown under normal conditions it probably won't survive.
 

rockm

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Tree roots inhabit mostly a zone a foot or two down in a radius around the tree . They do not "mirror" high growing top growth. That these grow near water (and not IN the water) doesn't necessarily show they can stand constant standing water. Trees adjust their root radius around the base to compensate for "bad" areas that aren't as hospitable too.
 

jaco94

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Completely agree with @rockm

The tree adapts to its environment by making the best use of its roots, in this case they will stay at the right height so as not to be suffocated by water.
Conversely a small tree living in opposite conditions (arid climate) will direct its roots extremely deeply, for example to reach a ground water up to 100 yards deep if that is where the water is.
 
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Adair M

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Here is a link that describes the cause of root rot in potted plants;


Root rot is caused by an excess of water causing a lack of oxygen in the root zone. Some soils harbor fungus that thrives in the anaerobic conditions, which can then cause root rot.

Using inorganic soils, with an open structure which promotes fast draining, the action of water moving down through the substrate bring air and oxygen down into the substrate with each watering. Thus, the anaerobic conditions that promote fungus and root rot are avoided.

@Forsoothe, you have chosen a strange sword to die upon with your continued advocacy of organic soil for bonsai. The very best bonsai are grown in Japan, and they use inorganic soils. Until you prove you can make better, healthier trees than the Japanese, you have not given me any reason to change to your soil mix.

Don’t like that argument?

ok, how about this: it’s been several years since Mt Saint Helens blew up. Leaving huge amounts of pumice fields. Guess what? New trees are growing happily in straight pumice. Nothing else, just pumice. Mother Nature at work!
 

leatherback

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There is no argument whether or not root rot kills plants
this i do and will argue.

rootrot is the aftermatch of roots dying. roots can die from not getting enough oxygen, after which they may rot. roots do not rot before they die.

not that it matters. some 1200 years ago I asked you to show food trees and since you have me on ignore. you will not see this either
 

Hack Yeah!

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A hypothesis: the answer may be linked to the adaptability of trees.
If they have managed to grow in this environment, they certainly have developed special characteristics, but if you plant a tree there that has grown under normal conditions it probably won't survive.
I can think of one example that would prove otherwise, I frequently visit a lake that was built in the 1980s, they built a dam for hydroelectric and flooded 20k acres. The shoreline is full of healthy trees
 

cmeg1

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I can think of one example that would prove otherwise, I frequently visit a lake that was built in the 1980s, they built a dam for hydroelectric and flooded 20k acres. The shoreline is full of healthy trees
Where at?
Probably red maple/swamp maple.....you see natural rafts growing out of water and everything.
Birch grows well there too along with sycamore too......practically in the water.
 

Hack Yeah!

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Not in the water, those on the shore. Oaks, pines, maples
 
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