Soil not draining well enough, any advice?

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Soil not draining well enough, any advice?

Postby JakeG95 » October 9th, 2018, 11:14 am

I’ve repotted my trees this year using bonsai soil I got from a good bonsai nursery

I’m unhappy with how poorly it is currently draining

I have potentially packed the soil too tight

Also a lot of my trees have been reported into larger bonsai pots, essentially growing pots but they look nice, so maybe this is contributing to my issue because there are large areas of just soil no roots

I’m only needing to water like once every 5 days if that and I live in bundaberg

Are there any tips to improving drainage or do I just wait until roots have filled up more of the area?

Thanks a lot
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Re: Soil not draining well enough, any advice?

Postby Ryceman3 » October 9th, 2018, 11:25 am

JakeG95 wrote: a lot of my trees have been reported into larger bonsai pots, essentially growing pots but they look nice, so maybe this is contributing to my issue because there are large areas of just soil no roots


Overpotting trees will definitely result in less water uptake, because like you say there is nothing (no roots) to take up the water. This time of year with trees/roots being very active generally, I would expect the pots to fill out reasonably quickly and this should mean that your soil will dry out as the volume of water required increases. Assuming the pots are not ridiculously oversized it could happen in a matter of weeks (depending on the health/vigour and species of your trees).

Is the bonsai soil organic/inorganic? Is the particle size fine or coarse? Is it branded or made up in the nursery? Maybe you should contact the seller and ask them how they expect it to perform ... but from what you say it sounds like it needs a bit more drainage.

Good luck.
Last edited by Ryceman3 on October 9th, 2018, 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Soil not draining well enough, any advice?

Postby JakeG95 » October 9th, 2018, 12:10 pm

I’m hoping that you’re right, a bit more rooting and it should drain better I hope!

Mainly worried that if it doesn’t get better that during the wet season my trees could get too much water

Trees are maples, figs and bougs

It’s made up by the nursery and they seemed like they put a lot of effort into it
Nursery from Bris too so similar climate to me

Couldn’t comment on particle size too well don’t have much experience but it isn’t super fine
Last edited by JakeG95 on October 9th, 2018, 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Soil not draining well enough, any advice?

Postby Bougy Fan » October 9th, 2018, 3:50 pm

If it is too fine - particle size - you may need to add something like 5mm deco or scoria to open up the mix and help it drain. I water every day with my mix of diatomite and scoria.
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Re: Soil not draining well enough, any advice?

Postby shibui » October 9th, 2018, 7:43 pm

I'd be surprised if a mix from a bonsai nursery would have problems so maybe it is more to do with the larger pots and recent repotting. Have you talked to them about this issue? Whether anyone else is experiencing problems or if they have any other suggestions?
Tilting the pots a bit can help with drainage. Just lift one end up on a block a few cm. It reduces the pool of water in the bottom of the pot after watering. Sounds odd but it does work. Those who don't believe, try it out - water the pot, wait until water stops coming out the drain holes then tilt one end up a bit and watch how much more water drains out.

Adding grit to the mix may help drainage for future but won't help the trees that are already potted. I don't think there is anything you can do apart from restrict water a bit. I assume you are able to repot figs all year round up there and probably Bougs too but I maybe not the maples though if the problems appear to become life threatening I would always repot, even out of season, rather than just let them die.
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Re: Soil not draining well enough, any advice?

Postby JakeG95 » October 13th, 2018, 7:58 pm

Slowly it is improving, but i can still go 3 days before another watering is needed, this won't be the end of the world but i think in the future i will pack the soil in less tightly and try another mix

I tried the tilting and it definitely helped, little bit of effort but i am more then willing to apply it for the next 2 or so months whilst roots fill in the space

thankyou to those that replied!
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Re: Soil not draining well enough, any advice?

Postby Pearcy001 » October 13th, 2018, 9:19 pm

Apologies if you already said it, but did you sieve the mix to remove the fines before potting up the tree?

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Re: Soil not draining well enough, any advice?

Postby kcpoole » October 13th, 2018, 9:57 pm

Add in some coarser componenets to open it up
Akadama, Pumice, Diatomite, Zeolite, Scoria will all do the job

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