Suiban Forest Tray Experience/ Tips?

Captain.Bonsai

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I don’t have experience using an ultra shallow suiban tray without drainage holes. Can you share tips and pitfalls regarding water management and horticultural adjustments required to use such a pot? I can make some educated guesses on what to expect, but I’d like to learn from your practice.

I’m yet to find any literature on this topic. If you know of a book or article - that could help too.

Thanks all.

BED9BB02-4075-4AEF-ACED-DA1258D71911.jpeg
 

sparklemotion

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Your best bet is to use it for suiseki (viewing stones)

Otherwise, it could be the base for a saikei style planting, where the roots of the plants are anchored into a tall stone and this just works as a saucer.

Alternatively, masonry bits are a thing.
 

Captain.Bonsai

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Your best bet is to use it for suiseki (viewing stones)

Otherwise, it could be the base for a saikei style planting, where the roots of the plants are anchored into a tall stone and this just works as a saucer.

Alternatively, masonry bits are a thing.
Thanks for the feedback.

I’m familiar with the variety of uses. The objective of my research is for a saikei planting that’s currently in training.

I’m specifically asking about watering considerations for a shallow pot that doesn’t drain.
 

Captain.Bonsai

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Your best bet is to use it for suiseki (viewing stones)

Otherwise, it could be the base for a saikei style planting, where the roots of the plants are anchored into a tall stone and this just works as a saucer.

Alternatively, masonry bits are a thing.
Oh, also... I’ve used masonry bits on other pots but I don’t really want to drill a $200+ pot at the risk of breaking it. I’d rather just learn how to use the tray that doesn’t drain.

Or I guess if someone has a source for nice saikei trays with drain holes, that may work.

I assume the reason they don’t have drain holes is because many plantings use the exposed surface of the bottom of the tray as an aesthetic. Drain holes will ruin that design option.
 

Bolero

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What are the Dimensions of your Pot ...I ask because it may lend itself to Saikei or Penjing or Landscape planting...
In which case you could employ a soil buildup of 1 1/2" to 2" above your Drainage layer (to accomadate the roots),
I use Juniper Shimpaku often in my Bonsai Lookalike Landscapes, they are very Hardy and survive both under and over watering...
I use an inexpensive Hygrometer to test B4 Watering (Mine cost me $10.00 at a Horticulture shop) and I use it faithfully every other day....
also FWIW my pots are usually 18" to 24" Wide with a 10" to 12" depth by 1" to 2" High edges...
Try to be specific when Watering,,, like just around the Tree Trunks as opposed to just Dousing or Spraying the entire planting...
If your pot edge is 1" then it looks like the Width might be 20" Plus...Perfect for a Landscape Planting....
Here are some shallow pot plantings...
 

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Michael P

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Tilting the pot drastically every time you water will work, but you need to get it as near vertical as you can. Another idea is to use muck or other technique to raise most of the soil volume above the edge of the container.
 

Coppersdad

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Oh, also... I’ve used masonry bits on other pots but I don’t really want to drill a $200+ pot at the risk of breaking it. I’d rather just learn how to use the tray that doesn’t drain.
Or, if you decide you want to risk a $200+ pot, I found an inexpensive set of diamond hole saws of appropriate size on Amazon.

I've had good luck drilling slowly with a water lubricant. I have even drilled "microwave safe" bowls, although it's very slow going. I have NOT dared to drill anything expensive. :eek:
 

sorce

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We might use them crossedover here because we lack quantity of this shape, but these are 2 different pots.

Even this
where the roots of the plants are anchored into a tall stone and this just works as a saucer.
Is likely temporary, as on display, the little watering they receive wouldn't even reach the pot. Spritzes.

I agree that would be the only reason to use a suiban.

In training, I'd make a training pot out of
These pot materials.

Sorce
 

Bolero

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If and when I drill a pot I use Carbaloy drill bits starting with a 1/8" Pilot Hole and then moving up an 1/8" at a time to about a 1" Dia. hole and do several of them in a staggered arrangement.....Use High speed and Water....Do a Cheap pot First to develop your Skill...I have done several...

I also have several Shallow Pot Plantings without drainage and they are doing well, just have to be Judicious when Watering...
 
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Captain.Bonsai

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In which case you could employ a soil buildup of 1 1/2" to 2" above your Drainage layer (to accomadate the roots),

Try to be specific when Watering,,, like just around the Tree Trunks as opposed to just Dousing or Spraying the entire planting...

I believe this is the idea I’m speaking to... With bonsai substrate we seek to achieve uniform particle hydration and aeration wich often requires extended and/or repeated watering periods (especially in my zone) followed by adequate drainage.

I like these ideas, they are what I’m trying to wrap my head around while troubleshooting in advance. But I still find potential pitfalls.

1. Substrate buildup above a ‘drainage layer’ of more coarse materials still doesn’t actually have drainage. I’m imaging rocks below substrate. The water will still settle in the rocks, not draining. The roots will eventually grow into lowest layer and possibly rot.

2. I agree that foliage watering could be counterproductive. The idea of specific watering has me scratching my head. I’m imagining lightly watering around the trunks while attempting to not use high volumes of water. The water trickles through that area of substrate, leaving many particles/ pockets dry and ultimately resulting in a water layer below that hasn’t drained.

It seems like a tedious task. I commend your patience.

It seems like drilling holes is the way to go. Or tilting.

The other obvious option will be using a stone slab and altering that accordingly... I’m interested in the clean aesthetics of the tray, hence the thread.

Have you tried leaving routes and areas for water to settle in the landscape away from the plants?

Here’s a pic of what I’m working towards. I don’t plan on having so much void space on the tray.

63810488-78DF-40D4-BDB5-0F36ADF32362.jpeg
 

Bolero

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Beautiful Penjing, looks like Chinese Elm plantings...??? Doing something like this will be a Real Challenge and put your Skills to the Test & that Ceramic Tray looks a lot Larger that yours in your OP....
No I have not used planned routes or waterways to direct away from my plantings...
Here is a picture of my Hygrometer...its about 10" long, it measures Moisture and Soil PH...I consider it a Must Have for any Bonsai Lookalike Gardener...
'P9158032.JPGP9158031.JPG
 

Sansui

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This is a very good book on the subject -Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment by Qingquan Zhao

 

Sansui

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This is a very good book on the subject -Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment by Qingquan Zhao

And another good book, Bonsai Landscapes by Peter Adams, 1999:

 

Captain.Bonsai

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And another good book, Bonsai Landscapes by Peter Adams, 1999:


I’ve got this book. I don’t remember it speaking to the topic. I’ll have to open it back up. I also have a hygrometer.

This discussion has given me things to consider.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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That is a beautiful suiban - it would be a crime to drill a hole in it.

Suiban are okay for rocks, but I find rocks boring.

That suiban is so shallow it really doesn't hold that much water. Most trees could use that up before the end of the day.

Suiban are great for Saikei - forest plantings where you only cover part of the suiban, open areas represent water. So you design a shoreline, or stream for your forest. or landscape planting. The fact that the suiban does not drain is a plus, it allows you to use either more trees, or less soil. The right balance is when the planting absorbs all the water of the suiban before the end of the day. Or use water or flooding tolerant species . Hornbeam will tolerate wet. As will black spruce, eastern larch (Larix laricina, not the others), Thuja and Hinoki are pretty tolerant of wet soils.

You can also build fairly tall "mountains" of rocks and soil, put "dry land trees" up top and water lovers down low. The extra moisture actually helps prevent having to water more than once a day.

Another way to use the Suiban is with Kokedama - mud balls. These are usually set in at tray of water to keep them from drying out. The ball is covered with live moss. These are a type of Kusamono.

Kusamono - there are many grasses who like wet feet. Blood grass loves wet feet, many Sedges and rushes also. A mixed planting of grasses, flowering plants like Lobelia - another water lover and ferns would be lovely in the blue suiban.
 

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