RuMac
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How do I figure out what kind of soil is best for my bonsai?

I just got two bonsai trees, (a ponytail palm and a Sago) I have been driving myself nuts for the past week trying to figure out what kind of soil they should have. :shock: The only info i can find is that it depends on where you live and what your watering habits are. Well, i live in northern Maine, and i can water them as often (or not) as they need. Bit I just cant figure out what they need in the pots. Can anyone help me please?? Also when is the best time to transplant them? (they came from Wal-mart, so im sure they probably need new soil) Thanks for your help!

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zewald
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Location: Greeley, CO, USA Zone 5

welcome.

well a typical bonsai soil is a combination between forest products (pine or fir bark), sometimes peat or loam, and coarse sand. the proportions are adjusted based on what tree you are using. as both of your trees are palms, they grow in sandy areas, so your best bet is using quite a bit of gravel/inorganic matter. the home depot carries a soil mixed especially for palms, and i use it with all my bonsais, adding gravel to augment the soil. its called cactus/palm/citrus soil. easy to find. initially, sift out all the smaller materials (smaller than 1/8 inch) and plant directly into that soil, until someone else has more information. as my experience with palms is limited, this is my somewhat uneducated suggestion. keep us posted.

Zach
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (I Cor 3:7)

linlaoboo
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what you bought aren't traditional bonsai types. Maybe try plant books.
ficus, maple, elm, juniper, pine

RuMac
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Location: Maine

thanks

Thanks Zack, I will definatley try that! It's the most helpful thing so far--a place to start is always good! lol
linlaboo--I have many plant books, and have been to plant sites on here as well, but haven't found anything relating to this kind of plant yet. I didn't want to start with a traditional tree because there is so much maintenance involved and I didn't want to start out doomed to fail from not knowing what to do! lol I have been doing lots of reading, and hope soon to take on the challenge of a real bonsai, but for now I am enjoying the look of these.

:D thank you both so very much! :D

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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

RuMac,

While I do agree with linlaoboo that these species are not traditional bonsai material there is nothing to preclude you from using a more open, free draining medium. I have abandoned commercial potting soil for everything I grow in pots. The only exception would be vegetable seedlings that are intended to be planted out in a relatively short time.

I don't have any Sago Palms but I do have three Ponytails and they are doing very well indeed in my usual bonsai mixture. Since you say that you are trying to ease yourself into bonsai this would be a good way to learn about bonsai soils.

I'll try to get some pictures later. My camera is acting up, hopefully it's just the batteries.

Norm

RuMac
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Location: Maine

thanks

Hi Norm,
Thanks for your reply, aren't the ponytails so much fun to look at? I just love mine.
But what is your usual bonsai mixture? I have read a lot of people are using the lighter soil for all their plants, and doing very well with it--just cant figure out what that mixture is.
thanks again!
Ruth

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Gnome
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Ruth,

Well, perhaps 'usual mixture' is a bit of a misnomer as it does vary according to what I can find at the time. Even so the general idea remains the same, mostly inorganic, large particle size, no drainage layer.

Here's a general starting point, Lava Rock/Pumice, Turface/Haydite/D.E., Aged Pine Bark/coarse Peat. Combine the three groups in roughly equal parts and sift to remove the fines. I'm not saying you have to follow this to the letter but you did ask. :wink:

I know that you will not know where to get this stuff at first, no one ever does. There are alternative to most of the ingredients and of course you can buy either the components and/or ready made mixes online.

Have you read the thread on soils yet? If not you really should. Make sure to follow the links as that is where the 'meat' is.

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3422

Norm

RuMac
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Location: Maine

:D thank you norm! Having a place to start is key! :)

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