Bonsai tradition is full of interesting things, and the objective behind the practice alone is enough to arouse your inquisitive mind. Another phenomenon that brings both excitement and intrigue into the tradition is the soil: Bonsai trees cannot grow on any kind of soil unless it’s bonsai soil.
For this reason, Bonsai soil has become an irreplaceable tool that every Bonsai grower must have in their tool kit if they want to record success. Therefore because of their inestimable value, they are often sold at high prices at garden centers and nurseries.
This is why many growers often wonder whether or not they can use Bonsai soil for several Bonsai projects. But can Bonsai soil be reused? You will find out about the possibility in this article.
Can you reuse Bonsai soil?
Yes, you can reuse Bonsai soil. Bonsai growers have cultivated the habit of throwing away their Bonsai soil after repotting. Although this may be a good thing, at the same time, it can also amount to a waste of resources if the soil is in good condition because such soil can be reused again.
However, certain conditions need to be considered before Bonsai soil can be suitable for reuse. These conditions are explained below.
The condition of the soil
Bonsai soil is composed of several components like grit, lava rock, Turface perlite, and Akadema. These components are made of inorganic materials and are susceptible to degradation over time, albeit at different timeframes. While lava rock or grit can last forever, the same cannot be said of Akadama or pine bark as they are bound to break down over time.
Hence, before you can reuse your Bonsai soil for future Bonsai projects, you must, first of all, find out the condition of the individual component that makes up your Bonsai soil mix. If, after your probing, they are in good condition, then they can be reused; if not, back down.
Separate the used Bonsai soil
If you have not been using your old soil for a while and you intend to use it for your new project, it is advisable to quarantine the old soil for at least a month be reusing them. This is because during the period when the soil is dormant, fungi may be growing in them, and it wouldn’t be ideal to use such soil for your new plant.
During this isolation period, you will be able to find out whether your Bonsai soil can be reused or not.
Burn the Bonsai soil before reuse
At times, the one-month quarantine duration may not be enough for the growth of fungi and every other bacteria to become apparent. Therefore, for you to erase all doubt about possible contaminants in the soil, you can burn the soil to help get rid of them.
Apart from this, the carbon absorbed during this process will help to enrich your soil.
Combine the old soil with freshly fertilized soil
In most cases, old soil is barren because most of its nutrients would have been absorbed by the original plant. This is why most Bonsai growers frown at reusing Bonsai soil. However, by mixing freshly fertilized soil with the old soil, you will restore the old soil’s nutrients.
For the best result, it is ideal that you first determine the compatibility of the old soil with the fresh soil before mixing them. Also, you must isolate your soil mixtures for some time before use.
How long is Bonsai soil good for?
Bonsai soil can last forever as long as they are kept dry for the period they are not used. The only soil component that is vulnerable to breakdown or deterioration is Akadama, and it will also take about a year or 2 before this can happen.
This is why it is often suggested that Akadama should be used in combination with other well-draining soil.
What can I do with old Bonsai soil?
The best way to utilize your old Bonsai soil is by preserving and refining them for potential use. In most cases, Bonsai keepers just throw them in the trash or abandon them in the garden bed.
Is it bad to reuse Bonsai soil?
No, it is not bad to reuse Bonsai soil. Yes, there is a possibility that used Bonsai soil will be lacking some essential nutrients that will be beneficial to the plants they are to be used for. However, using old Bonsai soil can save a lot of money.
Besides, there are methods you can utilize to endure that the lost nutrients in the old soil are restored.
Can I use regular soil for Bonsai?
No, you cannot use regular soil for Bonsai. Don’t be so inundated by the prices of Bonsai soil to the extent that you will result using your garden soil for your Bonsai soil. It will not work! This is because garden soil becomes hard whenever they drys up. And this may be detrimental to the health of your Bonsai.
What is special about Bonsai soil?
What differentiates Bonsai soil from other types of soil is that they are composed of different types of organic and inorganic materials. Some of these include organic potting compost, lava rock, pumice, and Akadema.
These mixtures make an ideal environment for the Bonsai tree to grow because they encourage proper drainage, good water retention, and aeration.
How often should you change Bonsai soil?
Unfortunately, the time duration for changing Bonsai soil is not written in tree stone as this depends on certain factors like the Bonsai species, the age and growing condition of the tree, as well as the size of the original pot.
However, as a general rule, it is agreed that young Bonsai trees should be repotted every 2 years, and repotting for older Bonsai should be done every 3 to 5 years.
Bonsai tree soil requirements
You will find several ingredients in a typical Bonsai soil mix which include fine gravel or grit, organic potting compost, Akadama, pumice, etcetera. Unfortunately, the exact individual component of these ingredients to meet up with the soil requirements varies from tree to tree, and several species of these trees are used for Bonsai.
Nonetheless, for simplicity, these species are categorized into two— Conifers and deciduous trees. The soil care requirements of these two divisions will be stated below.
- The soil of a deciduous Bonsai tree must contain 25% pumice, 25% lava rock, and 50% Akadama.
- The soil of conifer Bonsai trees must contain 33% lava rock, 33% Akadama, and 33% pumice.
In addition, an ideal Bonsai soil mix must be pH neutral, which means it must be either acidic or base.