Maple Soil Survey - Organics or Not?

dbonsaiw

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Seems there are few things as confusing to beginners and experts alike as soil composition. Information on the interwebs seems to indicate that folks are moving away from using any organics in their Japanese Maple mixes. So the question is, do you use organics in your soil mixture and if so which ones?

Personally, I was think thing about including 25% or so of fir bark to lower the PH and increase water retention a bit (mixed with monto clay (50%) and pumice (25%)?). Do you include any bark? Is it too water retentive? Nitrogen sink?

What other organics do you recommend and why? Which do you stay away from?
 

penumbra

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These soil studies can be very interesting but not necessarily very useful. If you have been growing plants a long time, you have already worked it out. If you are new to plant or bonsai culture, probably the best piece of information I could give is, what are they using and what is working in Your area. At least this would narrow it down to information that is of more use to You.
You can really get bogged down otherwise.
 

Dav4

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I'll use organics/sifted soil conditioner in maples and other trees being grown out in nursery cans or grow pots. Once a tree gets moved up to a ceramic bonsai container, it always goes into a organic free akadama/pumice/lava mix. I did grow maples successfully for years in a turface/lava/bark mix for years in bonsai pots, but there was always a lower layer of soil in the pots that remained too wet imo.
 

dbonsaiw

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Training pot. Some of these trees will be coming out of the nursery pots (I got them in November and just planted the pots in the ground). I build a box over the weekend for one of them - 20"X17"X5". Figure I will need about 7.5 gallons to fill it, so was looking to buy components (or pre-mixed) in larger quantities.
 

rockm

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FWIW the sites you've listed are mostly ad traffic driven crap with little actual expertise--anyone who considers using peat moss in bonsai soil, for instance, is woefully out of date or doesn't understand what they're doing:

"Bonsai Sanctum is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Bonsai Sanctum also participates in affiliate programs with Clickbank and is compensated for referring traffic and business to this company."

Or they're selling stuff, including the soil they're advising to use.

Consider the source and don't be so gullible...

No one here is selling stuff (unless you visit the actual marketplace here) The sponsor of this site is in it for the love of bonsai, not ad traffic or sales...
 

hinmo24t

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maples enjoy nutrients and some organics! thats from experience and i had researched it in the past as well
i use 30% organic soil or compost in their soil

they like to 'eat' in the growing season unless you offset it with fertilizer, but i even add a bit of that during growing season
 

dbonsaiw

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Folks here have been giving me great advice (and don't try to sell me anything). There is a ton of conflicting info out there, and I did find more reputable places saying an ideal blend is akadama, pumice and lava rock for deciduous including maples. I will include about 25% of organic material in my mix. 50% monto clay, 25% pumice and 25% pine bark is my current thinking. Gives me a PH of about 6 and should be pretty well draining while allowing for water retention. The pine bark is bringing down my PH (which I like), but not sure if I should be using other or additional organics.
 

BrianBay9

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The soil mix you use must coordinate with your microclimate, and your watering and fertilizer use. It's complicated for a beginner. Best advice is talk to someone local who is successful, and recognize that there are many ways to be successful. No organics? More fertilizer and probably more frequent watering. With organics, less.
 

Arlithrien

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Most of my cultivars came from MrMaple and they seem to use a mix of standard potting soil and pine bark. Their advice has been that maples are not so finnicky about soil type so long as the soil is well draining and I tend to agree with this. I think what matters most is that the soil stays damp but not wet, is and is not allowed to become bone dry.

My preference has been an inorganic bonsai mix of your choice with 10-25% organic bark. My most impressive maple growth has come from genetics rather than soil components but I find 50% DE, 25% pine bark, 25% lava rock works well in my humid sub-tropical east coast climate. When using mesh pots I might opt for a mix that stays wet longer to counteract the extra drying from the sides.
 
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fredman

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Yes I always use bark in my mix..about 20%....because of it's higher CEC that helps holding nutrients. I'll never forget the photo Smoke shared where the fine feeder roots actually grew into the bark.
I once did a test to compare the moisture holding capabilities of pumice and composted pine bark. Pumice was the clear winner. It held more moisture...and for longer.
 

Wulfskaar

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I think your environment makes a difference. More water retention may be necessary in certain environments.
 

leatherback

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There are as many substrate wars on the internet as acadama kernels in a pot.

In the end, you need to find a balance that works for you, which includes pot size, sun and wind, watering frequency.

All my pots are based on the wet winters I get. Weeks without a break in the clouds in winter is normal. days in a row with continuous drizzle and when it breaks, temps drop to well below freezing for the night, thawing out next afternoon and freezing again at night. My substrate is open, stable and not very water retentive as a result. Yet I have probably 10-20% ground bark in my pots. I tell myself plants like it. Have no reason to believe this is true except for my imaginations.
 

M. Frary

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Seems there are few things as confusing to beginners and experts alike as soil composition. Information on the interwebs seems to indicate that folks are moving away from using any organics in their Japanese Maple mixes. So the question is, do you use organics in your soil mixture and if so which ones?

Personally, I was think thing about including 25% or so of fir bark to lower the PH and increase water retention a bit (mixed with monto clay (50%) and pumice (25%)?). Do you include any bark? Is it too water retentive? Nitrogen sink?

What other organics do you recommend and why? Which do you stay away from?
What does Walter Pall use?
He has some fabulous maples.
He'll say inorganic with tons of water and copious amounts of fertilizer.
I have one maple. An Amur. It's in nothing but floor dry and lava. It's kicking ass.
 

Maiden69

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What does Walter Pall use?
He has some fabulous maples.
He'll say inorganic with tons of water and copious amounts of fertilizer.
I have one maple. An Amur. It's in nothing but floor dry and lava. It's kicking ass.
If you watch any of his newer content you will find out that he changed his thoughts on fertilizer, and is using some organics on his mix.


One article that I refer too most of the time for soil to use for trees in development is Brent's soil article.

Plenty more articles from Brent...
 
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