What would be a good soil to keep my very small 1 inch Coast and Dawn and Giant Sequoias in? Would it be something like regular potting soil, vermiculite, or peat or something else? What soil should I keep them in?
Potting soil (which is usually mostly peat) and vermiculite are not good for any trees, which need much faster drainage, usually with a mostly grit mix - think aquarium gravel, a little perlite and a handful of bark chips, which is easily come by in orchid mix bags sold wherever potting soil is found. While redwood does need more water, or water more often, than e.g. pines or maples, if drainage isn't fast, and peaty soil just holds water in forever, you'll end up with rotting roots (so never let the pot sit in drain water either).
So, what should I put them in? Gravel, bark Chips and perlite? What is perlite?
If you go to any place that sells potting soil (like Schulz) in bags they should have some - it's white granules and hardly weighs anything, but helps with fast drainage.
but is it good for redwoods? Do you recommend that brand?
Perlite is great for just about anything!
It creates excellent drainage, and it's lightweight.
You should be aware that there are two "sizes" of Perlite commonly sold: large granule and fine granule. You want the large granule stuff - 1/16 to 1/4 inch in diameter. The larger pieces can be crumbled or culled out for a more even particle arrangement, if you wish.
I like to use small bits of charcoal in my mixes, too.
Where can I buy it?
You can buy perlite (heat-expanded volcanic glass) at most nurseries or garden centers. I bet if you called your local nursery and asked about perlite, they'd tell you they have it in stock. As far as brands go, I think that perlite is fairly consistent across brands - the important thing is to buy a bag with granules that aren't crumbled to powder. I've used a few different brands, without complaint.
What if I mixed regular potting soil, vermiculite and peat together? Would this work?
Re-read the first response to your question in this Thread, and you'll have your answer.
But if you have your heart set on "regular potting soil, vermiculite, and peat" for some reason, go ahead and try it and see how it does.
Just remember that you've been given tips for a far superior potting medium, which will be much better for your plants. Good luck.
So, all I do is mix perlite and what? That is good for trees? I am about to go and get some but what else do i need soilwise for my redwoods?
Yes, it's good for trees. Plenty of free-drainage for the roots - root health being the key. What Lucy wrote: "a mostly grit mix - think aquarium gravel, a little perlite and a handful of bark chips, which is easily come by in orchid mix bags sold wherever potting soil is found."
The bark chips satisfy that organic component in the mix. As the bark becomes finer and finer, it adds the typical "soil" look to the mixture, if that's what your last question is asking. Really, though, you don't need any organic matter at all - as Tapla, one of the poster's here, has said, a plant can be grown in glass shards as long as water and nutrients are provided. This is to illustrate that free-drainage (oxygen for the roots) is crucial for plant health - and, by eliminating (or limiting) organic matter, composts, peats, et cetera, we can better control the amount of moisture throughout the potting medium.
I was just at a nursery, about an hour ago, and I bought a bag of fine orchid bark for $2. The perlite was about the same, along with volcanic pumice and charcoal.
Let us know how it goes, and take pics if you can.
I will take lots of pics, if I can upload them. Im leaving for Brazil today though, so I wont take any new pics. of my trees until I get back in 10 days. I will put up a new post all about the trees. Thanks for all your help everyone, Ryan...
Safe travel, safe return!
See ya when you get back!
Question --- can i use perlite and redwood for all my plants?? Im afraid of that , i use soil but its getting to heavy, so today somebody told me I can use redwood and perlite but Im not sure about the drainage ..
Thanks is advance
I just got some Dawn Redwoods and Giant Sequoia seedlings and based on what I'm reading here I shouldn't put any vermiculite in the soil mix. I thought since the tree like to be wet all the time it would be a good thing to add to the soil to help keep the tree soil wet. I mixed 3 parts potting soil, 1 part perlite, and 1 part vermiculite. I figured I should have added sand to the mix so I was going to add that for the next trees I transplant. Should I remix the soil and not include the vermiculite before the tree gets rooted in the soil or should it be ok?
The tree does not 'like to be wet all the time', even though it might tolerate wet conditions sometimes. You've read the rest of this thread which says vermiculite is not a good idea to put in the mix, and have decided on your own that you want to do it anyway. What can we say therefore that will convince you it's a bad idea?
I just want to be clear that I mixed the soil with vermiculite before I read this forum. Now I read this and see it's not a good idea. What I was asking was it so bad that it will cause the tree to die and I need to get it out of that soil mix or will it be ok with the low level of vermiculite I have added to the soil. From your reply it sounds like you are saying it not good idea to have any amounts in the soil.
It's too bad you used 'potting soil' for the mix as well - it's full of peat moss and not a good idea for trees... more grit for drainage might have been better, but at this point it's the wrong time of year to repot anything, and I'd just wait and see how things go. Use your instincts when it comes to watering according to how the tree reacts. Don't forget it will lose leaves in the winter. You also did not give your climate zone so I don't know whether to advise about winter protection or not.
I'm in zone 6b-7a. I did notice the seedling had sand in the soil and I will be sure to mix sand in when I plant the others.
You said it's not a good time to replant the trees now. What about they are seedlings in little tubes they were shipped in. Should I leave them in those until spring or would it be better to transplant in pots now? Is this the same for the giant sequoias as well?
This post was edited by dhd47 on Wed, Aug 20, 14 at 14:22
Definitely into pots with lots of room, and even more so for the giants. Be VERY careful to disturb the baby roots as little as possible. Tap down the soil between little layers but don't 'tamp' it hard. And you'll need some winter protection for those guys - like a shed, maybe in a box with moss or straw, etc. around the pots (or packing peanuts).
Thank you. I will get these transplanted to new pots ASAP. I am in the process of building a new shed but I don't think it will be a good spot for the new trees as it has no window so no light. I am building a garden bench of the one side of the shed and I was thinking I could cover that area in plastic as a greenhouse over the winter. I could keep the trees there but I think I would need to do as you mentioned, place some straw around the pots to keep from freezing.
So over the winter I need to water the trees, how much?
They don't NEED light over the winter! And plastic is a bad idea - no protection from cold, possible mold/rot from condensation on warm days, and not much good in high winds. Better to dig a pit (now) to put them in the ground if the shed won't be ready. That way they can get some light (for late Feb. when they begin to think 'spring' (you still haven't said where you live).
This post was edited by moochinka on Thu, Aug 21, 14 at 17:08
I sure hope the shed is done before winter. I would like to get the stuff I keep in the shed out of the garage. For plastic I didn't think about the inside freezing but I'm sure it could.
The plants will go in the garage or shed for the winter this year. Maybe next your I will have a greenhouse built and I can keep them in there.
I'm on the east cost of the USA in zone 6b-7a.
Thank you for the help and great info.
I apologize - you did say where you live!
DHD - when it comes to soils for growing anything in containers, you'll be better served if your focus is on how the soil is structured, not it's ability to provide the plant with nutrients (that's your job, and it's easy) or how rich and black it looks.
You'll find that soils which hold all or almost all of their water inside of the particles that make up the soil, on the surface of particles, and where particles contact each other, instead of the soil holding considerable volumes of water between soil particles are much more forgiving and make it easier for you to keep plant material healthy. What all that means is, you can shape your own destiny by learning a little about what's available and making your own soils; and you can usually make them much better and at a fraction of the price of purchasing commercially prepared soils, which are almost never appropriate.
An understanding of how water behaves in soil and how plants work (some basic physiology) are prerequisites to long term growth as a bonsai enthusiast. If you can't keep the roots happy, there's not much hope for being able to keep the whole organism running smoothly.
Here is a link that might be useful: More about how water behaves in soils ....
I repotted my Dawn Redwood in Al's Gritty Mix (1:1:1 - fir bark, granite, and turface) last spring, and it couldn't be happier!
I actually posted a question about pruning it on this forum in early March. It was titled, "Dawn Redwood Bonsai Pruning Advice- please help / what would you?" (Not sure how to link posts yet)
I.A.W.T. (In Al We Trust),
Mikey Lee G
Thanks folks. You are correct Al and I have learned a lot about the soil and how best to mix it. I purchased a bag or fine mini chunks pine bark, paver sand, and I have a large bag of perlite I'm going to use to mix for my trees potting.
MikeLee I really like your tree you posted. How many years old is that bonsai?
This post was edited by dhd47 on Tue, Sep 2, 14 at 9:56
So, I've learned the pine bark minis I found are not so mini after all. I've been to all the stores here and had no luck with pine bark fines. What I would like to know is what would I use to replace the pine bark when I'm mixing it with grit and perlite to get a good redwood soil?
If you only need a little soil, you can use ReptiBark, which is small fir bark you can get at most pet stores. You can usually find Turface MVP or Turface Allsport (or Schultz Aquatic Soil at pet stores). It's all the same product. Try John Deere Landscapes for the Allsport. And Manna-Pro chicken grit can be had at rural feed stores that cater to farmers and people who keep fowl.
Make sure you screen the fines out of the Turface over aluminum window screen, and screen the dust out of the bark and the grit. Mixing the 3 ingredients is a good place to start. If you want more water retention, increase the Turface and decrease the grit. For less water retention, do the opposite. If you keep the bark at 1/3 of the o/a volume or less, the soil will never collapse (structurally).
Read the link I left above and make sure you understand how water behaves in soils. It's an essential part of getting to a place in bonsai where you can start working on the artistic aspects. Again - the horticultural aspects come first. If you can't keep your trees alive and happy, frustration will get you, and it's over in the corner now, doing pushups. Ask as many questions as you need to ask until you fully understand.
Thanks Al the link was a good read. I have had some luck with the pine bark I purchased and a round with the blender. I put a little pine bark and some water in the blender and pulse cut it to small parts. I will get a photo tomorrow when I have light and the water is drained out of it.
So here is what I'm thinking of for my dawn redwood soil. I will use 1 part perlite, 1 part the pine bark mulch I blended, and 1 part paver stone sand (link below). The paver sand looks good for what I need. I'll get a photo of it as well tomorrow.
Al what is your thought of turface not being a good item to use? I was reading someplace it was not great to use. Most of what I heard has been positive about it but I just read about it not being good.
Thanks for the help and it's nice to have those with the same interest to talk with.
Here is a link that might be useful: Paver sand
If you're speaking of any negativity about the use of Turface in something you read on GW, you might consider that I've only heard anything negative about if from one source, and then one person picked up on that opinion and treated that one person's opinion like it was gospel, something that occurs with this GW person over and over again.
I've use Turface for at least 25 years, and every time I've brought a tree to a BYO tree workshop, it always got rave reviews for its health. If you don't have faith in Turface, use something else. What's important is you understand the concept and how to use it to make your soils work for you instead of against you. BTW - there was a considerable flurry of activity in the bonsai community by a lot very knowledgeable and experienced practitioners who disagreed completely with the one person's negative view of Turface.
I also think that choosing paver underlay sand as even a small fraction of a bonsai soil is not a good idea because of how fine it is - same goes for sharp sand or builder's sand.
I did not know it was only an opinion of one person not liking turface. I'm glad I asked because like I said it was something I read and not heard a lot before. I have read from more that it was good and just wanted to know your thoughts on what I heard. Right now I was going to use the perlite I had until I get my hands on turface unless you think that's not a good idea.
For the sand I mentioned I thought it would be ok after a rinse because it looked more like chicken scratch than a bag of sand. I'll post a photo to see what everyone things but I should be able to run out and get a bag of chicken scratch tomorrow.
Hi - you want to ask for chicken 'grit', and be sure it's not the kind made up of oyster shells - because that's also sold but not good for your trees.
all his great talk of bonsai soil for redwoods and last night I realized that the seedlings I have are not even going to be planted as bonsai trees for years. I guess I'm going to use the Al's 5-1-1 soil for the trees now to grow them out.
All this information is still good as I need the pine bark and I have other trees I'll be transplanting in spring.