Perlite is good (but that doesn’t make it pretty).

I’ll keep this brief because soil discussions are not exactly exciting.

This is the first tree I’ve repotted since I started putting all my collected trees in 100% perlite two years ago. The root growth has been excellent and I was glad to see that there has been no noticeable decomposition of the perlite after two winters.

There are probably a million other substrates that larches grow equally well in, but you would be hard pressed to find one that is as inexpensive and lightweight as perlite.

So perlite is good. Not exactly revolutionary.

/end of soil discussion.

Collected with a weak root system in 2012.

Collected with a weak root system in 2012.

Now it has a strong root system.

Now it has a strong root system.

The red stuff you are seeing all over my trees is coloured mulch. I got it for really cheap last autumn but now the damned stuff is everywhere!

11 Responses

  1. Nigel Saunders

    I hate Perlite, but the stuff works. Reminds me of styrofoam! I use it in all my soil except the top layer, this prevents it from floating to the surface and keeps its lovely white colour hidden.

    April 16, 2014 at 5:34 pm

  2. crust

    I am a perlite man too. I sift out the fines from coarse grade perlite and use it. I got a big bag of 6mm-12mm that has worked out super also. I have been mixing common landscape mulch grade lava with it for some weight.

    April 16, 2014 at 5:37 pm

  3. Tom

    I am trying perlite this year for a couple of collected pre bonsai because of the success you have pointed out here. It was reading your blog that made me try it FYI.

    April 16, 2014 at 5:54 pm

  4. Danny

    Have you compared root growth on pumice vs. perlite? I know pumice is more expensive and heavier (which are certainly drawbacks), but you can’t really argue with the results.

    April 16, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    • LSBonsai

      No we can’t really get pumice in this area. We use lava instead. Growth in perlite is just as good as lava but I save the lava for my more established trees in smaller pots.

      April 16, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      • Peter

        Where do you get the smaller Lava Rocks from? I live in Toronto and i can only find the large sizes. Any help would be great.

        March 27, 2015 at 9:04 am

        • LSBonsai

          Hi Peter,

          It is hard to find. Some clubs bring it in specifically for bonsai but that has become less likely in recent years. Lately I get it from . Chris is often in the GTA at sales and club meetings and he is happy to bring lava if he has it. Unfortunately it is getting hard for him to find it as well and last time I talked to him he only had a few bags. Hopefully he got more.

          March 27, 2015 at 10:00 am

          • Peter

            I figured it would be harder to get. have you heard of growstone? it’s made from glass i think. i’m just looking for ingredients for a soil mix that will work in our area. organic or inorganic. i have some stock that i have to repot (newbie here) and i want to do it right in the the right soil.

            March 27, 2015 at 10:11 am

          • LSBonsai

            I’ve not heard of it but I just googled it and it looks interesting. Do you have a source for it in the GTA? I would try it if I could find it for a reasonable price. Another decent product is Turface MVP (available at Plant Products in Brampton) or Diatomaceous Earth (apparently available at some hydroponic shops). Turface was the basis of my mix for a few years but I much prefer lava.

            March 27, 2015 at 11:51 am

  5. Peter

    i did a search for it. many hydroponic places can get. it’s about $40 cdn for the large bag. i haven’t bought it yet as i didn’t want to store over the winter. i will order it to try it out.

    i have used turface and the diatomaceous earth, and i find that the diatomaceous earth holds water longer.

    i started to use Al’s gritty mix with at touch of peat to hold the moisture a little longer.

    like i said i done have any bonsai trees yet but i have some stock that i will start to train into bonsai.

    i’m not plugging anything but i keep a facebook page with i have been doing. if you want to see.

    March 27, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    • LSBonsai

      Just a heads up that akadama (Japanese bonsai soil) is about $40 per bag at Kim’s Nature in Markham. It is expensive but good stuff as an additive to improve moisture retention. I use it with lava rock, usually 1:3 akadama:lava for most trees, perhaps 1:1 for deciduous. Keep in mind akadama will break down after a couple of winters.

      March 27, 2015 at 2:33 pm

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