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 Bonsai Soil

 By Erik A. Olsen

Bonsai trees have a long interesting history and because of their beauty, they have continued to be a popular hobby for people all around the world. Although growing a bonsai does require a lot of patience and certain skills, which can be learned, the result is worth the special care and time invested. To be successful in growing these miniature trees, certain things are essential. For example, exact watering, the right level of humidity, the right type of pot, and of course, bonsai soil, which is different from standard plant and flower soil.

The type of bonsai soil is important since it will affect the rooting system, along with feeding, watering, and transpiration. Remember that different species of trees will have somewhat different bonsai soil needs but as a good rule to follow, make sure you choose soil that is 30% grit, 70% humus if growing deciduous trees or 70% grit and 30% for evergreen or needled plants. Now, there are occasions when you want a different mixture but if not sure where to start, use these formulas.

To show you how bonsai soil would vary, if you were growing a hemlock, you want 70% humus and 30% grit because this is a needled plant. However, the pine tree, which is also a needled tree, prefers a higher percentage of grit. Then if you look at pine trees grown in Japan, you would find that many experts use 100% sand. Therefore, while you can follow the guideline provided for bonsai soil and be successful, you do need to consider each tree individually. If unsure, talk to your local nursery or gardening center, preferably one that specializes in bonsai soil.

Another option to buying bonsai soil is to make your own. In most cases, you can find all the needed ingredients very easily. Since bonsai need to be repotted every two to three years, an excellent idea is to adjust additions of marble sand (in place of grits), peat moss, cocoa mulch, pine bark, exploded clay, and compost (in place of humus). You might have to experiment a little but in most cases, you will find the exact combination your particular bonsai loves.

When making your own bonsai soil, you need several screens. For example, a large screen would help you sort out any debris from the soil while a small screen would help you screen out and get rid of fines in any soil. Then, you need to use your bonsai soil in the right pot. The best proportion would be that the pot you choose should be two thirds to three fourths as wide as the tree is high, and then one half as deep as the tree is high. Keep the height of the pot about the same as the diameter of the tree’s trunk. Bonsai soil is not rocket science but it does need to be the best soil for the tree you plan to grow and train.
 
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