native soil

jferrier

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I collected some cedar elms a few years back. One had a good root system and the other barely anything but a few long roots with virtually no fine roots. When the following Spring came I repotted the one that had the good root system in a free draining mostly inorganic mix as most everyone advises to do because this kind of mix will help develop a finer root system. But on the other tree, for fear of damaging the few roots on it, I left it in the native heavy red clay soil it was growing in when I collected it. So come the following season the tree in the native soil had more than twice the growth rate that the one in the free draining soil had. Now its roots are probably long and gangly, but its growth has really been much much better. I mean this is the soil in which these type of trees are found growing like weeds. There has to be something in it that they like. So my question is if a tree thrives normally in a region where the soil is heavy and compact, does it make since that if you were more concerned with rapid growth rather than fine root development to use the native soil or am I missing something?
 
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Bill S

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A year( less actually) isn't going to get you much if any new root growth after a dig up or root pruning. so probably a bad comparison, see what you get after two or three years.

My answer on the other question is no, at some point you still will need to hack up the bigger big roots you collected, and I am not sure but I seem to remember these are a bit finiky re. root work.
 

rockm

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I bare-rooted all the cedar elms I've collected when I dug them, or the year after. Leaving them in the field soil is not a real good thing to do--too much room for overwatering/soil interface issues.

I don't use an inorganic mix with cedar elms. It's too lean and doesn't hold enough moisture, especially in hotter areas. It dries out much too quickly.

I've used a 70/30 mix of haydite/sand and composted pine bark/seedling orchid bark for years with them. They grow like weeds.
 

jferrier

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A year( less actually) isn't going to get you much if any new root growth after a dig up or root pruning. so probably a bad comparison, see what you get after two or three years.

My answer on the other question is no, at some point you still will need to hack up the bigger big roots you collected, and I am not sure but I seem to remember these are a bit finiky re. root work.

In my experience they have not been finicky. They have done well for me even with very very few roots. I've had these trees for 2 growing seasons. I wasn't comparing root growth but branch and leaf growth.
 

jferrier

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I bare-rooted all the cedar elms I've collected when I dug them, or the year after. Leaving them in the field soil is not a real good thing to do--too much room for overwatering/soil interface issues.

I don't use an inorganic mix with cedar elms. It's too lean and doesn't hold enough moisture, especially in hotter areas. It dries out much too quickly.

I've used a 70/30 mix of haydite/sand and composted pine bark/seedling orchid bark for years with them. They grow like weeds.

Sure I understand what you are saying about the danger of overwatering. But I guess what I'm getting at is that these trees thrive in this nasty soil for a reason (which I do not know). I can throw a rock with my eyes closed on my parents property and will likely hit one. So my thought is that if I keep the tree in a large container and water just a little more often than it rains then I can try to create a more similar situation to that which it thrives best in nature. And the native soil has given me so much better growth and I didn't even fertilize it like the other. You may be right on with your mix though and very possibly I would get the same or better growth rate. I'll give it a try when I repot the one in heavy clay just to compare.
 

rockm

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"But I guess what I'm getting at is that these trees thrive in this nasty soil for a reason (which I do not know)...So my thought is that if I keep the tree in a large container and water just a little more often than it rains then I can try to create a more similar situation to that which it thrives best in nature."

A pot is not the tree's natural environment. Removing it, and the surrounding soil, and placing them into a container changes the situation for both dramatically. Soil in the ground has an almost infinite drainage field. A pot does not. You have removed that ability. Field soil loses most of its ability to drain as it does in the ground when placed in a closed environment...

An important thing that I have learned is that Bonsai is NOT really natural. It is really completely "unnatural." You can't recreate "natural conditions" or conditions found in natural environments in a container. You cannot factor in all the variables that nature has invested in the field soil and surrounding environment. That effort is futile. You really have to start from scratch to create own your environment in a pot that allows the plant optimum growing conditions.
 
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Of course, I second what Rockm has said about soil. For the same soil, because water is retained by capillary forces compensating gravity drainage depends of the height of the column of soil, which of course is dramatically reduced in a pot. There is a good primer on the web site of C. Fonteno.
www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/floriculture/plugs/ghsubfert.pdf

Anyway to fatten a tree, the first thing that a tree should not lack is water, so as I usually can't water twice a day, I use substrates between Nursery substrates and bonsai substrates (for example 50 % lava rock, 50 % neutralized peat moss for deciduous) and I am very satisfied with the grow I get.
 
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