Soil Moist

chappy56

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Has anyone tried this product?
At first glance it seems to make sense.
Here's the info to go with the photo................

Soil Moist has been developed to reduce the amount of water needed to maintain vigorous plants and other green goods. When mixed in the soil, the crystals will soften and swell as water is added and absorbed. When the potting system dries, the polymer will release its water to the plant. Soil Moist acts as a water reservoir--even during periods of drought the stored water is released to the plant. The expansion and retraction of the polymer during the watering cycle helps soil aeration, which is important to all plants.
 

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Rick Moquin

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It's garbage!

Read the description provided. Do you really want that happening in a shallow bonsai pot?
 
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A proper mix will retain water and create soil aeration without the chemicals.




Will
 

bisjoe

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I agree, keep it away from your bonsai.

Polymers have been around for years, since the late 70s, and are suitable for use in houseplants
when one is going on vacation and has no one to water for them, that's about it.
 

Rick Moquin

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I agree, keep it away from your bonsai.

Polymers have been around for years, since the late 70s, and are suitable for use in houseplants
when one is going on vacation and has no one to water for them, that's about it.
... the missus used it in our patio planters last summer, what a freaking mess it made. Not only did it make a mess of the area, it was terribly unsightly.
 

Vance Wood

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The problem with something like this is that there are some trees used in bonsai that like to be watered a lot but they do not like to be kept wet. This sounds like a contradiction but the truth is the Mugo Pine is one of them. They do best in a very fast draining soil but they do not prosper well when allowed to become bone dry. In my experience they do best with a lot of water that runs through. This process aerates the soil. The water pushes out the air and as the water drains through it draws in fresh air which keeps down the occurrences of root fungi of the dangerous type. This product will disallow this cycle and possibly encourage the fungi problem.
 
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just revisiting this old thread.... seems to me that as long as you add it to your bonsai soil mix, fully hydrated (fully expanded), and keep it out of mixes for certain trees, like mugo pines,.... it could be a valuable component to bonsai soil. especially for people who take lots of vacations, or the ever hotter summers that seem to be becoming the norm
what are peoples thoughts?
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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just revisiting this old thread.... seems to me that as long as you add it to your bonsai soil mix, fully hydrated (fully expanded), and keep it out of mixes for certain trees, like mugo pines,.... it could be a valuable component to bonsai soil. especially for people who take lots of vacations, or the ever hotter summers that seem to be becoming the norm
what are peoples thoughts?

I've experimented with it, and consider it a mixed failure. Dry the "crystals" are small, maybe 1/32 to 1/16 inch (0.8 to 1.6 mm). Fully hydrated the particles expand to as much as 3/8 inch ( 9.5 mm) give or take a little. In use they don't dry out entirely as you cycle between watering, but there is a constant change in volume of the particles as the media cycles between wet and not quite dry. In nursery pots thus is not a big deal, but in bonsai pots, the tree gets tilted, and displaced by the shifting and expanding and contacting media. You might tight tie a tree into a display pot, in a matter of weeks, with these polymer "crystals" in the mix the expansion and contraction will shift the tree, loosening it and allowing it to flop out of position.

So hydro-gel polymers are okay for nursery pot uses, a very poor choice for media component, for use in a finished Bonsai pot.

FAIL
 

penumbra

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I have only found them useful in nursery pots and hanging baskets. I used them in landscape plantings with great success for decades. Warning...... a little goes a long way. I would not consider these crystals in a bonsai mix.
 
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I've experimented with it, and consider it a mixed failure. Dry the "crystals" are small, maybe 1/32 to 1/16 inch (0.8 to 1.6 mm). Fully hydrated the particles expand to as much as 3/8 inch ( 9.5 mm) give or take a little. In use they don't dry out entirely as you cycle between watering, but there is a constant change in volume of the particles as the media cycles between wet and not quite dry. In nursery pots thus is not a big deal, but in bonsai pots, the tree gets tilted, and displaced by the shifting and expanding and contacting media. You might tight tie a tree into a display pot, in a matter of weeks, with these polymer "crystals" in the mix the expansion and contraction will shift the tree, loosening it and allowing it to flop out of position.

So hydro-gel polymers are okay for nursery pot uses, a very poor choice for media component, for use in a finished Bonsai pot.

FAIL
thanks Leo, I value your opinion here more than most. maybe a small percentage of the bonsai mix? like 10%?
just as a safety measure against the mix getting too dry
 

hampton

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I would think adding an organic component would have a similar moisture retentive effect without the expansion/contraction issues. That said, I don't have experience with the crystals.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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thanks Leo, I value your opinion here more than most. maybe a small percentage of the bonsai mix? like 10%?
just as a safety measure against the mix getting too dry

In a bonsai pot the polymer expansion and contraction will heave your plant, eventually exposing roots and shifting position of the tree. Even as little as 10%. I tried for a couple years at different dose rates. Result = FAILURE

Now is you are having trouble keeping shallow pots watered, get a large tray, I have a 36" x 16" x 2" deep tray. Fill the tray with peat or gravel. Then add water until the peat is saturated, or to just below the surface of the gravel. Set your Bonsai pots on top of the gravel or peat in the tray. There should be some contact between the drainage holes and the gravel or peat below. Water will wick up. Roots will grow down. Every 3 to 6 months trim off roots that grew out the drainage holes. I use this set up for warmest 3 months of summer, don't need it so much in winter.
 

penumbra

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maybe a small percentage of the bonsai mix? like 10%?
That is a huge amount. It would push the plant up a lot and perhaps out of the pot. When I have used it, it would account for no more than a percent or two of the total volume.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I would think adding an organic component would have a similar moisture retentive effect without the expansion/contraction issues. That said, I don't have experience with the crystals.

Yes, seedling orchid bark (douglas fir bark) once wet for a few weeks holds quite a bit of water, and as it decomposes, generates a lower pH. Also sold for orchids, seedling grade coconut husk chips are good. These are same size as seedling bark, hold more water and do not change pH as they decompose. Coconut husk chunks are a good media.

Akadama is a clay of volcanic origin, holds a lot of water. Most USA sourced clays are high in calcium carbonate (limestone derived)

Long fiber sphagnum moss holds a great deal of water, and does not have the strong pH buffer capacity issues that peat moss will have.

Perlite and pumice hold some water, diatomaceous earth (DE) holds much more water than pumice, actually DE is very good for retaining water.

If you need water retention in your potting media adding DE is definitely a possibility.
 
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