Bonsai soil is an important consideration for both beginning and expert Bonsai enthusiasts. Because of the nature of the Bonsai tree, the composition of the soil can mean the difference between a tree that lives for several months and one that lives for hundreds of years.
According to some research conducted by Bonsai Tree Gardener, the Bonsai tree requires special soil that is balanced in nature to provide nutrition, hydration, and aeration. Bonsai trees cannot be potted in the same soil that is used for most other plants because of their specific needs.
Why you need to think about your Bonsai’s soil
The Bonsai needs to be carefully maintained and cared for by the grower in order to live a long life. Because half of the tree is actually under the soil in the root system, it requires just as much attention if not more than the rest of the tree. If the roots of the tree are not properly cared for by providing adequate soil, the tree may suffer from malnourishment, drying out, drowning, root rot, or a number of other unfortunate consequences. Also, because a Bonsai tree is incredibly dependent on a small amount of soil in a usually shallow tree, the soil must be just right to keep the tree healthy.
Some people believe they can simply walk into their local nursery and pick up some potting soil for their Bonsai, believing that it will be sufficient. However, regular potting soil is far from appropriate for a Bonsai tree. Even soils that claim to be specifically for Bonsai can sometimes be inappropriate and insufficient. Often, people do not realize that it is sometimes necessary to make or buy specific kinds of soil for different kinds of Bonsai depending on the type of tree. The composition of the soil, even for a specific tree type, is often not agreed upon by Bonsai growers. In the end, every individual must create or buy the soil that works for the particular tree.
Composition of Bonsai Soil
The Bonsai soil needs to have the right combination of a number of characteristics in order to be effective. The soil should be well aerated so gases may flow through the root system. It should also be well drained so the plant doesn’t drown, but it must be able to hold water without drying out too fast. Lastly, the soil will need the right amount of nutrients to keep the Bonsai healthy. These characteristics can be achieved by making or purchasing a soil with the right composition.
When people in the Western hemisphere first began working with the Bonsai, most thought that an organic soil was appropriate. However, it was later learned that organic soil is not appropriate for a Bonsai because it retains too much water, it may get too compacted making watering difficult, and the particles will break down in the pot, causing problems for the roots.
A good soil is mostly inorganic and can be made using special clays or even cat litter. Certain amounts of humus may be mixed in including pine park, peat moss, and compost. The balance of humus and inorganic material will depend on the type of Bonsai.