Hydroton instead of Akadama

DaveV

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I was in a hydroponics store recently and saw a very large bag of small round pebbles that looked very much like akadama - It even had a red color similar to akadama. It is called hydroton. It is a high fired clay that is used as a growth medium in hydroponics. It does not decompose in water either. The research I have done on hydroton says that it is made in Germany and some people have said they use it in place of akadama in their bonsai soil mixes. Has this been around for some time and I am just finding out about it now or is it something new ?
 

Mike Page

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I was in a hydroponics store recently and saw a very large bag of small round pebbles that looked very much like akadama - It even had a red color similar to akadama. It is called hydroton. It is a high fired clay that is used as a growth medium in hydroponics. It does not decompose in water either. The research I have done on hydroton says that it is made in Germany and some people have said they use it in place of akadama in their bonsai soil mixes. Has this been around for some time and I am just finding out about it now or is it something new ?
I've used it for years as part of my basic mix, which is diatomaceous rock from Dyna-gro Co. , 1/8in-1/4in. lava, and hydroton, in equal parts. Excellent mix. Retains moisture and doesn't break down.

http://www.dyna-gro.com/


http://www.greenfire.net/hot/H004.html

Mike
 
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Smoke

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Nothing...I repeat nothing takes the place of akadama. Akadama is something that has no equal, there is no substitute. High fired anything to the point that these hydroponic soils are fired to would be the equal to lava in my opinion. Lava for me is so cheap that I have never seen a need for the expensive high fired glass balls, which in my opinion is just what they are.

I have them here also but have never bought them. There are many variations of these all around the world, and yes they have been around for years.
 

Mike Page

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I guess if it doesn't come from Japan, it ain't no good!!

Mike
 

mapleman77

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I have heard about the wonderful-ness of Akadama in the past, but why is it sooooooooo highly recommended? For me turface works great; would Akadama be a better substrate than turface?
 

Mike Page

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I have heard about the wonderful-ness of Akadama in the past, but why is it sooooooooo highly recommended? For me turface works great; would Akadama be a better substrate than turface?
David, I have used Akadama. It seemed to me that out of the bag there was a lot of dust to screen out. Hate to pay bucks for dust. It also seemed to me that after a year or so in the pot, it got mushy. I didn't like that. What I use doesn't break down. It does, IMHO hold moisture and nutrients, and doesn't break down. It can be recycled.

In my 30+ years of bonsai experience, I've worked with many soil components. This is what I've settled on. Each grower has different conditions and needs a different mix for optimum results. Learn from experimentation and experience what works best for you and stick with it. Good Luck!!

Mike
 

Smoke

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This does have anything to do with where it comes from. This has to do with properties of material and cost of materials. The properties of hydroponic soils are high fired clay. High fired enough to be basicly man made lava. Can we agree on this? So why would I pay as much as 40.00 for a bag of man made lava when I can go down to the heighborhood stone store and buy a 1.5 cubic foot bag of lava for 5.00 and get the same thing?

Mike I have a question for you. In the mix you posted a few lines ago you said you use diatomaceous rock from Dyna-gro Co. , 1/8in-1/4in. lava, and hydroton, in equal parts. Excellent mix. Retains moisture and doesn't break down.

If you already use lava why would you buy another rather expensive substitute for a component already in your mix that is probably only adding volume without any benifits?

I make a mix that has four or five different aggregates in it includeing akadama. I could remove any two as long as the akadama is not one of them. It is the backbone of the soil, and the others are there for support, adding that component for the reason you don't like it, to keep it from mushing. With the addition of coarse sand or lava akadama will last easily 3 to 5 years in a pot.
 
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Smoke

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I have heard about the wonderful-ness of Akadama in the past, but why is it sooooooooo highly recommended? For me turface works great; would Akadama be a better substrate than turface?

Beg borrow or steal enough to try your own experiments with. Buy a bag at the next convention. 25.00 is not that much to try something the will give you a measured experiment. No one can sell you on the benifits of akadama untill you have tried it over two years, especially with maples.

If after you try it you don't like it what have you lost? Personally I think you will gain but that just my opinion and whats that worth.....
 

DaveV

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Smoke, I believe you. But what I should also be asking, is there a product just as good as akadama. Do you think there is something in akadama that allows it to perform so well, and if so, what do you think it is ? Is there some organic component (s) that leachs out of the akadama ( humic acids, folvic acids) that is beneficial to the plants. Whenever I repot a tree that has been growing in akadama I notice that all of the non-decomposed akadama pellets are clinging to the roots, or should I say the roots are clinging to the akadama.
 

Smoke

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Smoke, I believe you. But what I should also be asking, is there a product just as good as akadama. Do you think there is something in akadama that allows it to perform so well, and if so, what do you think it is ? Is there some organic component (s) that leachs out of the akadama ( humic acids, folvic acids) that is beneficial to the plants. Whenever I repot a tree that has been growing in akadama I notice that all of the non-decomposed akadama pellets are clinging to the roots, or should I say the roots are clinging to the akadama.

Why do I feel like you already read my article at Vault?
 

grizzlywon

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I am new to this, but have tried both turface and akadama. Here is what I have noticed.
Turface dries out very quickly compared to akadama. Akadama on the other hand seems to hold moisture for a lot longer time, yet it still lets air into the soil.

Also, I have had a 100% success rate with maple air layers being put in straight akadama. Even removing them when they only have the brand new white roots with no fine roots. In pure akadama, they will take off! Putting them in turface only killed them.

Why I take them off so early: (1. Kyosuki Gun suggests it in his books. 2. I don't like leaving them on the tree any longer than I can because I think it is easier to kill the new roots in a cup, than in a larger pot. If you forget a day, it may fail. 3. Yes, i use akadama in cups to take air layers. Moss is a mess and seems to always be too wet for me.

Bottom line for me is this. Find an expert and listen to them. Al lives just minutes from my house and is a gracious teacher and his trees speak for themselves.


My two cents.
 

DaveV

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Smoke, I have read Al's writings on Bonsai Vault. This is why I am now trying to learn more about Humic Acids. Al says that there is probably humic acids in akadama (I had said that about akadama containing humic acids just as an example).
 

DaveV

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Smoke, you must be Al. I am just realizing this now. I very much enjoyed your article. I am now trying to locate Gro Power planting tablets in my area. Not having much luck.
 

meushi

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Actually I believe kiryu has been soaked in humic acid, or at least the two bags I opened last month had been.

As far as I can figure from all the geological literature on the clays of Japan, akadama and kanuma are just soft pumices. I will check the references again tonight. ;)
 

rockm

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The ting about Akadama is--there's more than one kind. There's non-fired Ak, there's fired Ak and there's high fired Ak. You want the bag with double red lines--that's the high fired stuff. The unfired stuff turns to sticky mush in my climate in a year or so...
 

daniel

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As far as I can figure from all the geological literature on the clays of Japan, akadama and kanuma are just soft pumices. I will check the references again tonight. ;)
I thought both akadama and kanuma are dried volcanic clays?
 

cquinn

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I switched to akadama from turface, and I've noticed a huge difference in growth and vigor. I don't plant my trees in rocks anymore. I use coarse sand and akadama. Big difference.
 

meushi

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I thought both akadama and kanuma are dried volcanic clays?
Technically they are both classified as pumices, it is quite easy to find for kanuma as it is simply called Kanuma Pumice.

http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110003709503/

I can't recall the real name of the strata that is commercially sold as Akadama, but it is a soft/decomposed pumice as well... just from a more recent eruption. I have the reference in my library at home, I'll post more info in about 5 hours.
 

Smoke

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I switched to akadama from turface, and I've noticed a huge difference in growth and vigor. I don't plant my trees in rocks anymore. I use coarse sand and akadama. Big difference.
I hear this from people that have tried it and given the red balls from Japan a chance. There are way to overcome breakdown and as a side note, even in cases where the soil has broken down and become more like mush I have seen no ill effects and the soil still drains as well as it did fresh from the bag.

I think a little more about soil still needs to be written. Time will tell as humates become more mainstream.
 

mapleman77

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So basically, Akadama has been used by people in the US, and, aside from the fact that it does break down, it's pure goodness?

Personally I bought a 50 lb bag of MVP turface from John Deere this spring and have been very happy with the results that I am seeing. I repotted all of my 6 plants from Evergreen Gardenworks into pure turface except for a pomegranate, and I put that one in bark. We'll see how they do in the future...
 
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