New to Bonsai in Texas

bigrule_06

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Hello everyone, I am new to Bonsai and was wanting some advice about soil. I have read some articles and did some research online, but all that did was confuse me everyone says something different. I just would like to make my own mix from stuff that can be obtained from my local garden store.
 

Bill S

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Irene! you want to grab this one??

Give Irene B a PM she is down in your neck of the woods, although a large state the best advice will come from someone near you, if possible hook up with a club in the area.

Be ready to give up the local garden center though, not that many carry the ingrediants we use regularly, and please unless someone near you shows you trees grown in it, stay off the kitty litter.
 

Brian Van Fleet

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Hello everyone, I am new to Bonsai and was wanting some advice about soil. I have read some articles and did some research online, but all that did was confuse me everyone says something different. I just would like to make my own mix from stuff that can be obtained from my local garden store.

You'll get a different opinion with each post here too, so don't count on this to unconfuse you! But, generally speaking soil MUST:

1. Drain well (you should be able to water it steadily from above without it running over the edges of the pot because it can drain as fast as you can add water)
2. Have plenty of space for air (larger granules, 1/8" to 3/8" commonly, always screen out the dust)
3. Retain some moisture and nutrients (not between particles, but within them)
4. Accommodate your watering habits/abilities. (If you tend to overwater, more porous soils may suit your habits.)

Some components commonly used include:
1. Lava Rock (www.coloradolava.com/products.htm)
2. Pumice
3. Turface (used for baseball diamonds)
4. Bark (pine or fir...)
5. Akadama/Kanuma (expensive, wait a few years)
6. Gravel/screened sand from stream beds/Pool Sand
7. Haydite

Read here too, Brent has some well-written articles about soil:
SOIL BASICS: http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/soils.htm
AGING OF CONTAINER SOILS: http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/soilage.htm
DIFFERENT FROM DIRT: http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/earthpot.htm

Good luck! Welcome to the sport of bonsai...
 

rockm

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All of what Brian said...add in soil componts MUST be able to withstand break down over time---the harder the particle, the longer it will last in a soil mix. This is important as continued effective drainage relies on durable components. Softer ingredients that decompose or break down into mush can result in root death.

I would not advise making your own mix if you are new to bonsai. You will wind up killing your trees if you're using inadequate ingredients and you have no way to compare (at this point) what is good and what is bad.

Bonsai "soil" isn't really soil as most people perceive soil. It is far more granular and coarse than potting soil. It looks more like gravel than soil. If I were you, I 'd simply buy a bag of decent bonsai soil from a reputable bonsai dealer online--or near you if you can find someone who's been doing bonsai for more than five years or so--local clubs are ideal for this kind of thing.
 

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