Chris85

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Hi all,

I have a question that I cant seem to find an answer to online or in my books. I live in zone 6b and I am just getting into conifers. I currently have a small white pine and a cypress. Im not trying to bind them yet or anything. I just want them to be happy and healthy for a year or two.

So they came in their standard nursery potting soil. I was thinking about making some nice pond boxes for them to grow their roots/ trunk base (even though theyre excruciatingly slow growers) but Im stuck because Im not sure what kind of soil is best to repot them in for developing roots.

I know akadama is a go to for conifers once theyre in their proper planters and there are other substrates and mixes as well, but for my purposes am I even supposed to be using a substrate at this stage? Or should I be using actual soil? If so, is there something you can suggest? Im skeptical of simple potting soil for them.

And lastly, they will be getting full sun and Im considering how to best keep the soil/substrate damp while encouraging root health. So, pond boxes for conifers? y/n? Or right to a training pot?

Thank you in advance!!
 

A. Gorilla

Chumono
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Bonsai soil is fine. It just has to meet the conditions of being coarse enough to drain and have air space, but fine enough to retain some moisture.

Think pumice and then see what is “close enough” based on local availability. Expect to do some sifting.
 

Chris85

Seedling
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Bonsai soil is fine. It just has to meet the conditions of being coarse enough to drain and have air space, but fine enough to retain some moisture.

Think pumice and then see what is “close enough” based on local availability. Expect to do some sifting.
Thanks! I think Im going to just try akadama. From what Ive read it seems to be the closest ph to what conifers prefer.
 

Adair M

Pinus Envy
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Equal parts akadama, lava, pumice.

I don’t know where you live. If in North America it’s ptobably too late to repot this year, wait until late next winter. Do a half bare root repot. Search for some threads on here about it
 

sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

Sorce
 

Chris85

Seedling
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Equal parts akadama, lava, pumice.

I don’t know where you live. If in North America it’s ptobably too late to repot this year, wait until late next winter. Do a half bare root repot. Search for some threads on here about it
The Boon Mix bade was my initial thought as well but I was worried it might not be the correct ph. My books say straight akadama for conifers, but I’ll give the mix a try. I kind of hate the idea of not cutting the akadama with something given the cost.

And you’re right about it being a little late to repot. Michigan is having a late spring, but maybe it’s best to err on side of caution.

And thank you for mentioning the half bare root repot. I’ve never heard of it and my natural inclination was to bare root the edges around the entire perimeter. If I’m understanding what I’m reading (people discuss it without much of a how-to) you pick the weaker half of the plant and only bare root that half of the root system in the new soil? And the all of the roots should be combed out but the remaining half should get the original soil? Someone else mentioned this but it’s not in any of my books and I’m having trouble finding a YouTube how-to.

Thanks again!
 

Bonsai Nut

Nuttier than your average Nut
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My books say straight akadama for conifers, but I’ll give the mix a try. I kind of hate the idea of not cutting the akadama with something given the cost.
What works for one person, in one location, with one type of tree, might not always be the best solution for someone else, somewhere else, with something else :)

Once you get established, I would consider buying a few small conifer seedlings and trying a few experiments - planting a JBP seedling in each of several different mixes, for example - and seeing if you can tell a difference.

Here in southern California I go with 100% pumice or 90% pumice with rough organic or 50% pumice 50% lava, depending what I am doing. I also have a separate acidic mix I use for azaleas/camellias/gardenias. I have used acadama in the past, and still have a bag sitting around somewhere, but I personally didn't see enough of a difference to warrant the cost given that I go through about 500 lbs per year of non-organic. Acadama costs me about 4x as much as pumice - about $1 per lb.

I am not an acadama hater by any means. It just doesn't seem to be worth the premium - to me for my needs.
 

M. Frary

Bonsai Godzilla
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Here in Michigan, a lot of people don't fool with akadama.
It doesn't like the weather here.
Turns to mush in a year.
I go with substrates that don't break down.
Pines grow fine in all kinds of substrates.
 

Chris85

Seedling
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What works for one person, in one location, with one type of tree, might not always be the best solution for someone else, somewhere else, with something else :)

Once you get established, I would consider buying a few small conifer seedlings and trying a few experiments - planting a JBP seedling in each of several different mixes, for example - and seeing if you can tell a difference.

Here in southern California I go with 100% pumice or 90% pumice with rough organic or 50% pumice 50% lava, depending what I am doing. I also have a separate acidic mix I use for azaleas/camellias/gardenias. I have used acadama in the past, and still have a bag sitting around somewhere, but I personally didn't see enough of a difference to warrant the cost given that I go through about 500 lbs per year of non-organic. Acadama costs me about 4x as much as pumice - about $1 per lb.

I am not an acadama hater by any means. It just doesn't seem to be worth the premium - to me for my needs.
I’ll do that! Probably best to start on some practice material anyway. I’ve only done light work to this point but I’m quickly learning that if I want to achieve the results I’m looking for, I can’t just toe the water haha
 

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