Bonsai Soil – What any Bonsai enthusiast should know

On Bonsai Soil

Good and healthy bonsai soil is necessary if you are to maintain a good Bonsai tree within a preferred environment. The right composition of these soil nutrients is crucial to the health of the Bonsai tree. Finding the right composition requires patience, numerous trials and a skill developed over time.

Bonsai trees survive in a confined small, defined apartment of bonsai soil usually contained in pot or other appropriate structure like a bowl or container. These kinds of bonsai soil must be capable of holding enough amounts of water content and nutrients for absorption by the Bonsai tree. In this case, any Bonsai enthusiastic must include humus soil in the soil composition. Without this, air and moisture that is necessary for the plant won’t be sufficiently absorbed and thus affecting the positive health and vigor of the tree.

It should be noted that not all bonsai have need of bonsai soil which retain water since some trees like junipers and pines require less moistures and nutrients so a less-water retentive soil mixture should be devised. Keep in mind what Bonsai tree you are going to plant before finalizing your soil mixture. Fruiting and flowering trees require higher moisture contents so the bonsai soil mixtures should contain high moisture retaining capacities. Any mistake concerning these soil mixtures is likely to have adverse effects on the health of the tree.

The compositions of bonsai soil can be classified as organic and inorganic. The content of these kinds of soil is grit and peat. Grit is found in both organic and inorganic bonsai soil and helps the soils in drainage capabilities. Peat is dead plant matter that holds nutrients and water. The usual bonsai soil mixture is a 50% to 50% composition ratio of Grit to Peat but in case of pines and junipers, the composition of grit is much higher at a ratio of 75% to 25%.

Bonsai soil can be obtained from good garden centers and bonsai nurseries. Organic soil compositions are of poor quality, cheaper and more available than the inorganic bonsai soil. Sometimes, peat can also be water retentive which makes the soil mix too sodden especially during rainy periods. Dry peat can be tough to re-wet correctly during dry seasons. Organic soil compositions break down frequently especially during bad-drainage moments, and thereafter re-compact quickly which can bring about Bonsai tree roots rotting easily and thus affecting the health of the tree.

In a bid to achieve good bonsai soil, a number of materials are used along with grit. The materials are volcanic lava and baked clay granules. Examples of the baked clay granules are akadama, seramis, perlite, and vermiculite. Akadama is also referred to as white Japanese clay, orange colored Seramis has a superior quality like Akadama, Perlite is a naturally occurring volcanic rock that is heated to a high temperature, and Vermiculite is a naturally occurring, mica mineral similar to Perlite. Different climates affect the effectiveness of these materials.

Last but not the least, achieving good bonsai soil is dependent on the local climate, rainfall, and more importantly the personal traits of an enthusiast as regards to watering plans and schedule. Having different trials of soil mixtures can give you the best possible results of different bonsai trees.

Bonsai Soil - What any Bonsai enthusiast should know
Bonsai Soil – What any Bonsai enthusiast should know

More on Bonsai Soils

Usually, the beginners in growing bonsai use general mixed soil as they wish to know how long it takes to get familiarized with the process. Bonsai soils must be ventilated and drained very well and the plant won’t be affected. An option is to buy readily prepared bonsai soils. Usually plants that grow in very large pot have drained soil and excessive fertilizer, but this is not applicable to bonsai. An easy, cheap and not time consuming way to obtain bonsai soils is to go to a tree farm or even better to a specialized tree farm in growing bonsai. If you choose to prepare the soil mix for your tree, you will store some knowledge and is very easy as well. Some specialists get into a big trouble during soil mixing, but in general it is not very difficult and you only have to follow some basic rules: one part of hard earth, two parts of sphagnum soil, two parts of granite grit. This is a general mixed soil and can be used for almost all species. 

Most of them are interested to learn how to mix the soil for personal use, because with more than 4 trees it becomes expensive to purchase readymade soil. 

You can find many soil ingredients and the right mix can be a real challenge for those without experience. In this article you can only find basic information about bonsai soils, not specific mixes or ingredients. Answers in this area can be found to individuals experimenting care techniques.

As general information, the tree must obtain water, gases and nutrients for growing necessity. As a result, the adequate soil must be used. The quality is essential for the tree to be vigorous and healthy.

The following two qualities are required in bonsai soils:
• The capacity of retaining water and absorbing nutrients. These qualities are provided by using organic dead matter which is able to collect and retain the sufficient quantity of nutrients and water for the tree;
• Well drainage. The excess water must drain fast from the container. Normally, the drainage is provided by small stone pieces or grit, which allows the excess water to flow very easy through the mix. Sound drainage also allows air to get through compost, necessary for the tree.

Generally, all bonsai soils must be water retentive and free draining, but some species are different in their necessities for nutrients and water and this should be taken into consideration in the soil composition. For example Junipers and Pines need less water compared to other species. This means the soil mix needs to retain less water.

On the other hand, fruiting and flowering species have raised water requirements and needs to be planted in pots with mixed bonsai soils that have the capacity to retain water. When you prepare the bonsai soil mix, first you should know the bonsai species. The material used for water retaining is different in accordance with the plant that the mix is prepared for. If you add more sand to the mix, the draining will be increased. If you add more material for retaining water, the soil mix will have a great capacity of retaining water.