Soil

Gr8tfuldad

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I don’t want to open a can of worms to start a soil debate, but let’s talk soil.

I have some collected deciduous trees that are going into large grow boxes. Based on rough calculations they will hold almost 4 gallons of soil. So roughly $40 in general bonsai soil depending where I buy it. I have a quite a few trees to repot

Over the last 30 years I have grown a lot of different plants and trees. I have traditionally used peat, perlite, sand and vermiculite as substrates in nursery pots.

What are my options here? I can see where peat stays too wet. I can see where perlite floats to the top over time. I need a good soil without breaking the bank for prebonsai. Please help 😀
 

Gr8tfuldad

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Try monto clay or NAPA 8822, big bags that don't break the bank.
Monto is still a pricey additive (screened).

I’ve seen mixed reviews on Napa8822, it seems regionally people are getting differing products. Maybe I’m misunderstanding?
 

River's Edge

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What are my options here?
It depends on your expected outcomes! If there was a cost effective substitute for the better quality substrates they would be commonly accepted rather than debated endlessly. If you are satisfied with partial results than there are lots of options for the situation where good enough is considered good enough.
Try pumice, lava and fir bark sifted to size and in proportions for the species you wish to work with!
Check out the resource section on this forum for in depth information on soil. Two articles in particular by "markyscott"
 

Gr8tfuldad

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It depends on your expected outcomes! If there was a cost effective substitute for the better quality substrates they would be commonly accepted rather than debated endlessly. If you are satisfied with partial results than there are lots of options for the situation where good enough is considered good enough.
Try pumice, lava and fir bark sifted to size and in proportions for the species you wish to work with!
Check out the resource section on this forum for in depth information on soil. Two articles in particular by "markyscott"
Thank you, I will take a look at them now.
 

Joe Dupre'

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Sifted soil conditioner/ perlite or vermiculite - 50/50 up to 70/30 depending which is cheaper. Think really nice nursery soil. Just adjust your watering schedule. The nursery industry makes billions every year by potting trees in stuff that's not even as good as that.
 

ShadyStump

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I occasionally blow off steam by taking a hammer to bricks and old terracotta. Mix with lava rock and just enough peat or mulch to fill in some and I've not done to bad. Stays wetter than most want, but that's what I personlly want anyway. Can't go camping if I can't leave my trees for a day or two.

Just bought some stuff for the first time today that's lava rock, sand, a different kind of sand, and some sort of compost. We'll see how it does. Only $5 for a 10lb bag.
 

Potawatomi13

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Posts 4 & 7 good advice. Personally use sifted pumice/about 30-40% sifted nursery bark. Works good. Original question almost guaranteed to start soil wars again🤪🤣.
 

Gr8tfuldad

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Posts 4 & 7 good advice. Personally use sifted pumice/about 30-40% sifted nursery bark. Works good. Original question almost guaranteed to start soil wars again🤪🤣.
That certainly is not my intention 😇

I guess my point of contention is that trees are grown in such a wide variety soils as others have noted from the horticulture industry, that “bonsai soil” is a hard pill to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the drawback to these soils when I take a tee out of the pot. It’s often a mess.

life is not always simple, I have 4 teenagers in the house. Watering trees 3 times a day in summer may not always be possible. So too quick draining could be an issue. I could setup irrigation, I’m a plumber afterall, although I do like hand watering. It gives me time to check the trees and connect with them.

I’m in NJ 7b. It can be wet, it can be dry. It can be hot and humid, it can be cold and low humidity.

Like I said, it really seems like a hard pill to swallow because high cost seems unavoidable for decent results.
 

just.wing.it

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I can get away with watering once in the morning only all year long (though I often give them a 2nd dose on the really hot days).
I use lava, pumice and Douglas Fir bark all from Bonsai Jack's website.
I also experimented with the addition of akadama in a few pots this year.
I will be experimenting with Monto Clay as well next year.

Basically most of them are in equal part lava, pumice and bark. The bark is the key to maintaining moisture. You could use more or less depending in the tree.

One thing I learned this year was that I probably will use less bark next time I repot my ficus trees, especially the Willow Leaf, it likes it drier.
 

Gr8tfuldad

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I can get away with watering once in the morning only all year long (though I often give them a 2nd dose on the really hot days).
I use lava, pumice and Douglas Fir bark all from Bonsai Jack's website.
I also experimented with the addition of akadama in a few pots this year.
I will be experimenting with Monto Clay as well next year.

Basically most of them are in equal part lava, pumice and bark. The bark is the key to maintaining moisture. You could use more or less depending in the tree.

One thing I learned this year was that I probably will use less bark next time I repot my ficus trees, especially the Willow Leaf, it likes it drier.
Thank you for the feedback. I have been looking his soils and probably will order some. My brother used his this spring and really liked it.
 

just.wing.it

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Thank you for the feedback. I have been looking his soils and probably will order some. My brother used his this spring and really liked it.
I recommend them, unless you're the kind of person that can store huge amounts delivered by forklift into your barn.... if I could buy bulk like that, I would try to.

But their bags are reasonably priced and don't contain much dust relative to stuff I've used in the past. I still sift and sort by particle size, but there's almost no waste.
 

Gr8tfuldad

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I recommend them, unless you're the kind of person that can store huge amounts delivered by forklift into your barn.... if I could buy bulk like that, I would try to.

But their bags are reasonably priced and don't contain much dust relative to stuff I've used in the past. I still sift and sort by particle size, but there's almost no waste.
Cool, we are going to buy more to save and split it up. I could store it in bulk, not sure I would want too tie up that much $ in soil.
 

Gr8tfuldad

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So let’s say you have deciduous maple that you are taking from nursery stock with the end goal of air layering and then styling. You put it in an inorganic mix from Bonsai Jack in a grow box, to establish a finer root system What would the benefit of adding an organic like pine bark to the inorganic mix? Or is it not needed because the grow block with retain water and aid in nutrient exchange?
 

Arnold

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I occasionally blow off steam by taking a hammer to bricks and old terracotta. Mix with lava rock and just enough peat or mulch to fill in some and I've not done to bad. Stays wetter than most want, but that's what I personlly want anyway. Can't go camping if I can't leave my trees for a day or two.

Just bought some stuff for the first time today that's lava rock, sand, a different kind of sand, and some sort of compost. We'll see how it does. Only $5 for a 10lb bag.
In latin america and other zones where its very dificult and expensive buy akadadama the people use hammer bricks or terracota as substitute mixed with some organic soil like worm casting
 

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