Is anyone using pine bark in their bonsai soil ?

Ali Raza

Shohin
Messages
319
Reaction score
139
Location
Islamabad, Pakistan
USDA Zone
9b
Hello to everyone. I manage to get somehow pine barks from mountain area through one of my friend. It was delivered yesterday. What can be possible utilization of pine barks in bonsai ? Your valuable comments will be appreciated.
 

wireme

Masterpiece
Messages
3,339
Reaction score
6,810
Location
Kootenays, British Columbia
USDA Zone
3
Hello to everyone. I manage to get somehow pine barks from mountain area through one of my friend. It was delivered yesterday. What can be possible utilization of pine barks in bonsai ? Your valuable comments will be appreciated.
Some like it, some don’t. What do you have to mix with it?
 

hemmy

Chumono
Messages
599
Reaction score
805
Location
Ventura Co., CA
USDA Zone
10a
Hello to everyone. I manage to get somehow pine barks from mountain area through one of my friend. It was delivered yesterday. What can be possible utilization of pine barks in bonsai ? Your valuable comments will be appreciated.
Pine bark, fresh and aged is used extensively in the US nursery industry. I use cheap orchid bark and pumice in my pre-bonsai. It is conifer bark, probably mostly fir on the West Coast and pine bark on the East Coast. I have used the bark in substitute of akadama on deciduous material with more frequent repots. I haven’t observed it breaking down and robbing nitrogen as some claim. I’m a fan of using what you have locally because it’s hard to use what you don’t.
 

Ali Raza

Shohin
Messages
319
Reaction score
139
Location
Islamabad, Pakistan
USDA Zone
9b
Pine bark, fresh and aged is used extensively in the US nursery industry. I use cheap orchid bark and pumice in my pre-bonsai. It is conifer bark, probably mostly fir on the West Coast and pine bark on the East Coast. I have used the bark in substitute of akadama on deciduous material with more frequent repots. I haven’t observed it breaking down and robbing nitrogen as some claim. I’m a fan of using what you have locally because it’s hard to use what you don’t.
What ratio of pine barks with other ingredients in your pre bonsai soil ?
 

0soyoung

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,322
Reaction score
8,004
Location
Anacortes, WA (AHS heat zone 1)
USDA Zone
8b
I sometimes grow trees in big plastic nursery pots, just to get them bigger and use a mix of bark and a lesser volume of garden soil. The bark I use is the same medium sized landscape bark with which I dress my landscape garden beds. These are 1 to 2.5 inch (2.5 to 6 cm) chunks that are far too large for use in a bonsai container. I apply some high nitrogen fertilizer in the first year. After that it isn't necessary as the decomposition of the bark supplies nitrogen thereafter. After about 5 years is stops draining well and needs to be replaced.
 

hemmy

Chumono
Messages
599
Reaction score
805
Location
Ventura Co., CA
USDA Zone
10a
What ratio of pine barks with other ingredients in your pre bonsai soil ?
What ratio of pine barks with other ingredients in your pre bonsai soil ?
I’d like to say precise ratios for each tree species based on its moisture requirements. But in reality, a very variable 1:1
 

hemmy

Chumono
Messages
599
Reaction score
805
Location
Ventura Co., CA
USDA Zone
10a
crushed marbles.
Like glass marbles? I guess that’s similar to using sand.

You have pumice, congratulations! I don’t know how I ever lived without it! You could add bark at the appropriate size to increase water retention and increase CEC. Just check for mix against these criteria:

 

Ali Raza

Shohin
Messages
319
Reaction score
139
Location
Islamabad, Pakistan
USDA Zone
9b
I sometimes grow trees in big plastic nursery pots, just to get them bigger and use a mix of bark and a lesser volume of garden soil. The bark I use is the same medium sized landscape bark with which I dress my landscape garden beds. These are 1 to 2.5 inch (2.5 to 6 cm) chunks that are far too large for use in a bonsai container. I apply some high nitrogen fertilizer in the first year. After that it isn't necessary as the decomposition of the bark supplies nitrogen thereafter. After about 5 years is stops draining well and needs to be replaced.
Appreciate your input. But my experience with plastic pots is not pleasant. They become brittle in peak summer and started to break.
 

Shibui

Chumono
Messages
601
Reaction score
990
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
I use more than a little bit of potting mix here so get a mix made up in bulk from a supplier.
70% fine composted pinebark (3-10mm), 30% propagating sand (3-6mm) with a small amount of diatomite and the required fertilisers added. I use that mix for all the trees I grow - pines, maples, azaleas, junipers, olives, Australian natives, and others. It is well drained so little danger of root rot and pore spaces stay open for several years. Some others have found it a little too open so it dries out quicker than they expect but it suits how I grow trees in my conditions.
Note that pine bark should be well composted before using it in potting mix. Pine bark is organic so it ties up nitrogen as it starts to decompose. Pre composting helps start the process without compromising your tree while it happens. It is very important to add fertiliser to organic potting mix to counteract the inevitable nitrogen drawdown as the mix continues to decompose when you apply water. Slow release iron is also added to all commercial potting mixes over here.
There's a lot more to formulating a good potting mix than just sourcing some components and mixing them together so do plenty of research before trying this at home.
 

KiwiPlantGuy

Chumono
Messages
606
Reaction score
615
Location
New Zealand
USDA Zone
9a
I use more than a little bit of potting mix here so get a mix made up in bulk from a supplier.
70% fine composted pinebark (3-10mm), 30% propagating sand (3-6mm) with a small amount of diatomite and the required fertilisers added. I use that mix for all the trees I grow - pines, maples, azaleas, junipers, olives, Australian natives, and others. It is well drained so little danger of root rot and pore spaces stay open for several years. Some others have found it a little too open so it dries out quicker than they expect but it suits how I grow trees in my conditions.
Note that pine bark should be well composted before using it in potting mix. Pine bark is organic so it ties up nitrogen as it starts to decompose. Pre composting helps start the process without compromising your tree while it happens. It is very important to add fertiliser to organic potting mix to counteract the inevitable nitrogen drawdown as the mix continues to decompose when you apply water. Slow release iron is also added to all commercial potting mixes over here.
There's a lot more to formulating a good potting mix than just sourcing some components and mixing them together so do plenty of research before trying this at home.
Hi,
Great answer. I use mainly pine bark and pumice in my growing on boxes/pots.
Do you use any Pine Bark pieces (3-6 mm) in your bonsai pots. It is just Akadama is unavailable here so am picking your experienced brain?
Charles
 

Shibui

Chumono
Messages
601
Reaction score
990
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
All pots, including grow pots and bonsai pots, get the same mix except really small bonsai pots. For those I pass the mix through a 6mm sieve to remove the largest particles.
Akadama is available here but costly, both in terms of price but also on planetary resources so I choose to replace it with a locally available alternative.
Japanese growers use akadama because it is locally available and has the required properties. If it was not readily available to them we would all be chasing after whatever component they had found to make mix out of. IMHO a great deal
of the following of akadama is simply because Japanese growers produce good trees so I'll have what they are having and if it costs extra it must be even better.

A good potting mix has certain properties - Air space, water holding, enough weight to stop the pot blowing away, CEC to help hold nutrients, etc. It does not matter what materials are used, just that the end mix gives the results.
 

Ryceman3

Yamadori
Messages
78
Reaction score
129
Location
Melbourne, Australia
USDA Zone
9b
I also use pine bark (sold here as “orchiata mix”... for orchids), mixed with pumice, mixed with zeolite, I have some scoria this year so I’ll add/supplement that and if I think things are looking a bit open I throw in some coir peat for good measure depending upon what I’m potting up.
Like shibui says, Akadama is available here but I’m not that keen to part with a lot of cash for a product that will replace what I have successfully found to do the job for less coin. And I hear Akadama imported from Japan comes in all kinds of grades/qualities so I think for now I’ll stick with what I know.

In short, pine bark is a part of my mix I’ll keep using until I find a reason to change.
 

derek7745

Chumono
Messages
872
Reaction score
1,109
Location
Montreal
I use equal parts peat loam and composted pine mulch for japanese maples in big pots. Some trees will eventually be used for bonsai, some will remain or become landscape trees that either remain in the pot or get transferred in the ground.

from mountain area
Would disease and/or insects be a problem? I don't know. I personally find it reassuring that the substrates that I buy seem nearly 'sterile'.

It comes down to an easy question: what we would be the purpose of adding pine bark to your current mix? Is your current mix lacking in a way that pine bark could correct?
 

Anthony

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,689
Reaction score
7,261
Location
West Indies [ Caribbean ]
USDA Zone
13
Took around 4 years to compost Pine needles.
Not sure what the NPK would be.

Check your marbles for Alkali /Alkaline soluble content.
Glass is usually 15 % or so Sodium Oxide and 10 % Calcium oxide.
Crushing may make the Oxides easily availble in water.
See what it does to roots.
Tamarinds are very acidic [ 4 ] and don't like glass.
Good Day.
 

hemmy

Chumono
Messages
599
Reaction score
805
Location
Ventura Co., CA
USDA Zone
10a
Would disease and/or insects be a problem?
Good point. Once you get it broken down to the desired size, maybe you can solarize it to kill any pests. There is a lot of info out there on solarizing soil for garden pests.
 

Similar threads


Top Bottom