fallingleaf
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What kind of Bonsai Soil do you use?

I was just curious what kind of soil everyone uses.

I re-potted my ficus and my elm because I had fungus gnats and I could not get rid of them. I tried everything and they just got more numerous. I used Hoffman bonsai soil mix. It seems like its all grit compared to what they were in before. My trees are doing awesome and the ficus hasn't dropped a single leaf(surprisingly).I don't know If the soil I got was decent. I just wonder what you all use for soil.
~ Golden Gate Ficus ~ Chinese Elm ~ Fukien Tea ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~

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JustinBoi
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I bought my soil from Dallas Bonsai.
It's a mixture of calcined clay, shagnum peat moss, and pine bark.
I re-potted my Chinese Elm a few days ago, and it's done great!
"It's not just a 'hobby', it's a type of lifestyle."

TomM
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I get my soil from (and many bonsai clubs in the Northeast do also) Bill Jones at North Country Bonsai Soil in Saratoga Springs, NY. ph. 518/587-8912.

Bill has various mixes and granular sizes.

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Gnome
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fallingleaf,

I have never actually purchased pre-made bonsai soil, instead I mix my own. For the inorganic components I have used different things at different time depending upon what I can find at the time including Turface, Haydite, lava rock, Oil-Dri, creek rock, and even Perlite for things not in actual bonsai pots.

On the organic side it is usually aged Pine Bark or sometimes moss I harvest from a shady area of the property. This I clean and chop coarsely with scissors. BTW, I always sieve my ingredients to remove the finer particles.

Glad things are working out for you. You've crossed a rubicon in realizing the importance of a free draining mix.

Norm

fallingleaf
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thanks for all the replies. Norm i might try make my own soil as well, or get a few that you all have suggested and mix them. I think the soil i have is great but maybe missing something.

I think im turning into a bonsai freak. This summer i want to go to the greenhouse and buy some little starter trees and make my own.

Curious question.. if i made a bonsai then planted it in the ground, would it then grow to be a twisted tree? I think that would be awesome but I can't find anything about it on the internet.
~ Golden Gate Ficus ~ Chinese Elm ~ Fukien Tea ~ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ~

TomM
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A lot of folks have tried it. If it lives - which means that it is compatible with your local climate - it might start out with the 'twists' that you gave it as a little bonsai, but will quickly revert to its natural growth habits which mean long straight 'juvenile' appearing branches. Not pretty. Depends, of course, on the species of tree it is.

We often plant our bonsai (pre-bonsai) into the ground for a few years to 'fatten 'em up' then chop them back down again and put back into small pots for further training. Again that can only be done with trees that are native to your region or suitable to your particular climate.

Seven years ago I put a 1 foot tall larch pre-bonsai into the yard to remain there. It is now over 10 feet high. It loves the koi pond that it is near. I have plenty of other larches in training.

Marsman
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Here's a link to a thread I made regarding [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21285]making your own bonsai soil[/url].

My recipe goes like this:
3 parts Turf ace
1 part Lava Rocks
1 part Bark/Charcoal (Orchid mix ground up in a coffee bean grinder.)
.5 Perlite (This can be left out.)

I found it wasn't worth my time to make my own; all the sifting and grinding takes a while. Now, I just purchase my soil from my teacher at Sanctuary Bonsai. I also keep some potting soil, extra lava and/or Turface, and ground-up orchid mix handy to adjust my soil if necessary.

time4breathnez
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I just posed the question in another forum that I modified a purchased bonsai soil to give it more organic, and was it too much. I can see by people's posts that it is common to have very little organic, relatively speaking. Some recipes seem almost like what I use for my cactus. How important is it to limit the compost and other organics?
bonsai is time4breathnez

TomM
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Many bonsai "pros" use 100% inorganic - such as akadema - and supply the nutrients purely by fertilizers.

Most hobbyists though resort to a 'mix'. The trouble with too much organic in the mix is that it leads to moisture retention which in turn can cause roots to rot.

100% inorganic will provide the fastest drainage, and will create the need for the most frequent watering, sometimes 3-4 times or more a day in summer. If we don't have the time for this - like if you have a normal life (a job, school, etc.) away from your trees, you will need a little moisture retention to keep the tree alive until you can provide water.

It is very much a balancing act.

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djlen
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fallingleaf wrote:thanks for all the replies. Norm i might try make my own soil as well, or get a few that you all have suggested and mix them. I think the soil i have is great but maybe missing something.

I think im turning into a bonsai freak. This summer i want to go to the greenhouse and buy some little starter trees and make my own.

Curious question.. if i made a bonsai then planted it in the ground, would it then grow to be a twisted tree? I think that would be awesome but I can't find anything about it on the internet.
Better to do it the other way. Plant the seedling in the ground to allow it to get some size and thicken up. You can also bend or shape as desired during this process. When you have the thickness you like, pull it and pot it up to begin the process of shaping and sculpting. :)

I buy turface in big bags and mix it with chopped pine bark. Then I buy a large bag of Miracle Gro potting soil and mix it 1 part potting soil ~ 3 parts the turface/pinebark mix. This seems to create just the right amount of perching affect that I want for most trees. For Privet and others that like a moister mix I go a tad heavier with the Potting Soil. For Pines I go a little heavier with the turfac/pinebark. This has worked well for me for years.
Regards,
Len

"As the twig is bent, so the tree inclines"
- Virgil
"I rarely agree with most of what I say........." -
- Len
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