Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bonsai soil for Chennai climate

The soil used for bonsai in Chennai is very different from what we use in Australia. It is a mixture of red clay, sand and cow manure. Some growers add broken low-fired red brick for better drainage. The sand used in the mix is rather small grain, like the one used for mixing concrete. While we in Australia make our soil mix for drainage, they in India make their soil for water retention. The climate in Chennai can be very hot and dry. Never the less, bonsai growers in Chennai complain that their trees grow too fast! Needless to say, clay and manure provide their plants with ample nutrients. High temperatures all year round don’t allow the soil to be saturated with water for too long, especially in a shallow container. I also think that native plants of Tamil Nadu are adapted to waterlogged soil during monsoon and very dry soil in summer. The soil is too sticky when wet and for repotting they use dry soil mix (see image below).


Shiju Nesamony said...

I have been using a mixture with a high proportion of sand, low amounts of clay soil together with dry cow dung. Adding large amounts of sand is helps the pots to be kept well drained. This has worked fairly well for me as I need a the moisture to be retained in my pots kept in my terrace under direct sunlight throughout the day. Of late I have started using cocopeat (coir pith). May be I will have to wait for a year or so before I can have an understanding of how to work with it.

Kigawa said...

I think coir pith should work. Some bonsai growers in Sydney mix it with rocks such as Diatomite and Zeolite. It seems to work well. Coir also will make your soil mix lighter. I hope it works! Chennai climate is a challenge for bonsai.

Shiju Nesamony said...

You're right. Cocopeat has worked fairly well. I am happy with the way the plants have grown.