Ponderosa soil mix

treebeard55

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The "search" function on this forum, and another, have failed to turn up an answer to my question, so ...

What soil recipes do people use for ponderosa pines, east of the Mississippi and north of the Gulf states? Any and all information will be appreciated.

I've got a new ponderosa (my second) on its way from Andy Smith in S. Dakota, due here tomorrow. It's a combined birthday/anniversary gift from my beautiful wife, and I'm champing at the bit to get my hands on it! :):)

Andy's mix is formulated for his conditions, of course: higher and drier than northern Indiana. I'd be concerned about overwatering if I were to use it.
 

mcpesq817

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Hi Treebeard,

I'm in the DC area, and have three ponderosas that I acquired in the Fall of 2008 and early Spring of 2009. I repotted two of them last spring around this time in 100% inorganic soil, which is a modification of my general recipe that modifies Boon's mix (that's a mouthful). Essentially, given the cost of akadama and lava, I've substituted other soil components for my general soil mix that would be more cost effective for me.

I believe I used 1/3 turface, 1/3 pumice (from DryStall), and 1/3 grit (Granni-Grit). I also throw in a handful of horticultural charcoal. Last, I mix in a little bit of the original soil my ponderosas came in to help with the mycorrhiza - not sure if this helps, but that's what I do.

I did not hose off the rootball (just used a spray bottle to keep exposed roots moist while I worked), but did my best to pick out the native soil muck from amongst the roots. I think on one of the trees, it took me almost four hours. I know they say to not lose any of the white root tips, but I distinctly remember losing most of them on one of my trees because they seemed very fragile. I might have just been lucky that the tree survived, but I do remember having some angst as to whether the tree would live or not.

I put my trees out in full sun, and water and feed pretty heavily (watering almost every day and feeding every two weeks or so), since my goal was to get the tree happy and healthy. The consequence is that you might get very long new needles, but that's a small price to pay to get your trees established.

One other tip - make sure you tie the tree down as best you can. Given how flexible the branches are, you want to make sure that any future styling attempts are made when the tree is well secured to the pot to limit any movement. I did a pretty severe bend on one tree this winter, and despite me thinking that I had tied it down very well (including wires that had extended from the drainage holes up out of the soil to pieces of deadwood on the lower trunk), I noticed that the trunk did start rocking back and forth as I worked until I secured it a little better.

So far what I've done seems to be working, as my ponderosas look very healthy and they have backbudded like crazy this spring.

Good luck! Post a picture of your tree when it arrives :D
 
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tom tynan

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You can't go wrong with lava, pumice, haydite, granite. I would stay away from akadama unless you have used it before and are familiar with the material as well as the hardnesss/softness of the particular akadama you purchase. The lava/pumice mix works well and you should see very good results. Good luck...tom
 

tom tynan

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It sounds like your planning on removing whatever soil Andy has added to the tree; I would not do that. Just leave it alone for 1 year and then consider repotting if at all. As I recall - all he does it add turface mix to whatever native soil he collects. If the native soil washes out - you add more turface or lava. Once you pull the tree (this year) - you will be tempted to mess with the roots - I would not do that - just let it grow and get stronger - this will increase your chances....Tom
 

treebeard55

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Update

Tom, I got this tree in Andy's "Burlap Bonanza:" recently collected trees are sold with the rootballs wrapped in burlap (and plastic for the trip.) Buyer pots it up.

The tree arrived in fine shape and so far is doing well. I left most of the native soil for now and filled in with a mix of 60% lava, 30% Turface larger than 3 mm, and 10% coarse bark. I may leave out the bark in future. And I did make sure and anchor the tree very well! ;)

The trunk and main branches have some fantastic movement that the picture doesn't really do justice to.
 

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cquinn

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Warren Hill uses 50% sand, and 50% Akadama in East Tennessee. He's got some of the best, if not the best ponderosa bonsai east of the big river. One or two were in the National Show last year. He collected them in colorado about 20 yrs ago.
 
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