Trees that live in pots, such as Bonsai, cannot seek nutrients or water on their own. Your bonsai relies on you to choose the right soil mixture to support it.
A bonsai tree's enemy is not drought, but root rot. First-time bonsai owners kill their trees by over watering a bonsai planted in soil that drains poorly. Roots need to breathe, as do the microorganisms that help them digest nutrients; therefore, large pieces of grit are ideal for bonsai soil.
Akadama is a commercial soil used by professional bonsai growers. It can be expensive but its coarse, clay-like, granular structure works well.
Add crushed pumice stone, baked calcined clay or other mineral composites in particle sizes of 1 to 6 millimeters to basic potting soil (organic matter) to achieve an ideal mix.
All plants require three main nutrients--nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium--and the bonsai is no different. Adding fertilizer can help, but avoid ones made to induce rapid growth because they are unhealthy for a bonsai.
Mixing your own soil is not complicated and requires only two ingredients, organic matter and grit. Sifted peat, leaf mold or composted bark work well as organic matter, which helps to hold moisture, and above-mentioned soil conditioners work well as grit.
- "Bonsai, A Care Manual"; Colin Lewis; 1997
soil pot, bonsai care, nutrients roots
About this Author
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.