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Sneaky Pete's Bonsai Soil Mix.

Our very own Pete Yerki has been cultivating bonsai from seedlings for over 15 years now. Here he shares his bonsai soil mix for various trees. The numbers for material represent "parts" (1 part loam,3 parts grit,etc.).
You may have to adjust for your particular region. Pete and the rest of us are currently in zone 9.

Tree Type
Loam
Sand/Grit
Leaf Mold

Manure

Conifers/Junipers/Cypress/Cedar,etc.
3
4
1

0

Elm,Maples
3
1
0

2

Pine
2
3
1

0

Flowering/Fruiting
2
0
0

3

Make sure you sift all of your soils with a stainless steel soil sieve to obtain the best particle size suited for your tree. Pete recommends the use of Akadama High Fired Clay for his grit.

Quick fertilizer facts

NPK & CA at a glance
N-Nitrogen (nitrates) "Leaf Fertilizer"
Promotes leaf bud and branch development, growth in general.

 
P-Phosphate/Phosphorus (Phosphoric acid) "Flower fertilizer"
Enhances root and cell tissue development, regulates the reproductive activities in flowering and fruiting varieties.
 
K- Potassium "Root Fertilizer"
Promotes production and circulation of sap,flowers,and fruits.

CA- Calcium

Aids in plant growth and stimulates metabolism,promotes nitrogen fixation via bacteriam,soil solidification

Symptoms of NPK impact on bonsai
Nitrogen "N"

Not enough:Weak plants,low greening of canopy,yellow bottoms,weak leaves (wilting/falling).

Too Much:Overgrowth of branches

 
Phosphoric/Phosphate "P"
Not enough: Slow root growth,thus slow plant growth.Telltale signs include leaf turn fromdeep greens to bronze/brown, then purple
 
Potassium "K"
Not enough: Symptoms are not overly obvious,but in severe cases the edges or tips of leaves will appear as leaf burn (yellow spots,brown or redish brown)
 

Minor elements and your bonsai

Bonsai lacking minor elements (ferrum and manganese) will produce white or yellow leaves.In cases with low magnesium,a yellowing or reddening of the lower parts of leaves towards the upper canopy will be the result.

You can learn more about NPK at the NPK Web System homepage. This is an excellent resource with some very useful computer models for all 3 components individually and combined.

Sneaky Pete's Fertilizing Schedule

Fertilizer Type
1st Application
2nd Application

3rd Application

4th Application

Slow release pellet
Last week of March
Last week of June

N/A

N/A

Slow nitrogen
0-10-10
N/A
N/A

Last 2 weeks of August

Once a week for all of September

You may also add Micro Element Treatment at least once a year. Incorporate this into your fertilizing schedule and be consistant.

Remember:

Feed from spring to autumn.
Flowering and fruiting trees should be fed after flowering.
Deciduous trees:Feed until leaf drop
Frequent pinching = less fertilizer.
Do not feed in winter!
Do not feed indoor bonsai for 3 months after repotting!
Water less after root pruning,shoot clipping,and defoliating.
Water once a week in winter.Be mindful of pot size and your plant's own specific needs.