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Akadama is a fundamental component of bonsai soil. It is used throughout Japan as a potting medium for both general purpose bonsai and gardening. Increasingly, it is used worldwide in growing bonsai.
The term akadama is Japanese for “red” words – the color of the particles – and “ball” – the shape of the particles. These particles are volcanic clay balls that have been mined and naturally dried or baked to a desired hardness. The dried particles are sieved and then bagged for distribution.
Akadama is effective as a means of pot for bonsai because it has good retention properties of water and drain well. Even better, Akadama particles slowly break down over time.
When transplanted bonsai, cut the roots need soil that drains well to stimulate the production of new roots. These roots grow rapidly and trees help to recover from the stress of transplantation.
Over time, the root growth and constant watering break Akadama particles. As the particles break down and become smaller, its ability to hold water increases. Given enough time, the particles will completely break down until all that remains are small pieces of clay.
The breakdown of soil particles is important in growing bonsai as soil particles smaller promoting slower growth. During the development stages of refinement of bonsai, slow growth is a primary objective as vigorous shoots can thicken branches and make the old saplings are.
akadama Wet – note the darker color
akadama wet powder
As akadama continues to break down and the roots begin to fill the pot, drainage can reduce speed to a crawl. Keep happy bonsai soil that drains poorly is difficult, because the roots need air and water to stay healthy. When drainage is poor, irrigation is done carefully until the tree can be replanted safely for transplant next season. Once in new soil, bonsai regain some vigor and the process is repeated.
Akadama is available under a variety of brand names. While clay is similar in each, the rate at which the particles can differ drastically decompose. Some producers prefer soft bonsai akadama rapidly decomposes – others prefer hard akadama which decomposes slowly. The key is to find which brands work for your trees in your climate.
moderately hard particles can break down quickly when used for trees that grow fast and live in humid climates that receive a lot of rain. The same mixture could last years before completely decompose when used for trees that live in drier climates and grow slowly.
Popular brands include Kotobuki akadama, Ryusen, double red line, Ibaraki and Nakayama akadama brand.
Akadama bonsai soil
are also popular premixes or premixes floors – bonsai including akadama as well as other ingredients, such as pumice, lava and other volcanic particles. Common brands of premixes include clay mixture King and Aoki.
Clay King premix
Although akadama is one of the most used for bonsai soil means that rare once it used in monotherapy. The combination of particles with different structural properties and water retention allows the creation of almost unlimited bonsai mixtures. How can you determine what makes the most sense for a given in a given climate bonsai?
The best answer is experience. If you have no experience with a variety of bonsai soil, trying to find someone who does -. Preferably one who lives or has worked in a similar to his climate
Boon Manakitivipart is a professional bonsai successful bonsai who studied in Japan and has worked in the U.S. (Full disclosure -. I have studied and worked with Boon for more than 20 years) When Boon began traveling to work in bonsai, he was struck by the general lack of health of trees. Before he could work on trees, trees that needed to be healthy – very healthy -. And the first step to getting healthy bonsai begins with the ground
Boon created a modified version of the mixture is used in Japan and he began testing in collections in California, Washington, Florida, Texas, Connecticut, Ohio and points in between. The mixture is simple :. Equal parts of pumice, lava and akadama with some decomposed granite and horticultural charcoal added
the basic mixture Boon is a good starting point for growing bonsai anywhere in the US . Continental Depending on where you live, the recipe can be adjusted according to your needs. If, for example, the akadama decomposes too fast for its trees, try using a difficult mark akadama or adding more pumice or lava to the mix. If your trees need more moisture, try a mixture with more akadama in it.
Depending on the region where you live, pumice, lava and akadama can be hard to find. In these cases, check to see if there are good local alternatives or try ordering online. If you can not find the lava, for example, the use of more pumice is a good alternative. Again, the best place to start your research is with experienced bonsai enthusiasts who live or work in your area.
Pre-mixtures can also be used to approximate Boon Mix. A mixture using two pieces of clay King, a pumice part and a handful of horticultural charcoal will approach the proportions of pumice, lava and akadama used in Boon Mix.
is impossible to overstate the importance of good drainage when it comes to bonsai soil. After selecting the ingredients of the soil, it is important to ensure that they are well sifted. Sift bonsai soil serves two purposes. It can be used to separate particles that are too small to be used in the mixture of bonsai, and can separate particles by size.
Bonsai sieves are available for this purpose, or you can build your own. A fine mesh sieve will rapidly dust particles and small impede drainage. Larger screens are separated by size soil. In general, smaller particles are used for smaller bonsai and larger particles are used for larger bonsai.
Sift bonsai soil
Akadama is generally available previously screened. Lava and pumice are sold commonly screened and unscreened. You can save money by sifting their own soil, and you can save time from pre-sifted ingredients -. Select the one that makes the most sense for your collection
Note that even previously sieved soil can break due to shipping and handling option. Sift ingredients are mixed ensure the least possible dust terminates at its floor.
As always, I recommend starting with bonsai-related experienced professionals who have lived or worked in a climate similar to yours searches. bonsai local clubs can be another excellent starting point. Many clubs offer recommendations for vendors in their newsletters and on their websites.
Other options to find akadama include nurseries, garden centers bonsai retail and online resources.
Many bonsai nurseries carry akadama. It is rare to find a wide variety of brands within a single point of sale, but often good, as sellers try to bring brands that work well for their clientele. Best of all, bonsai nursery can be a great source of information on what approaches work well locally.
Although it is rare to find mixtures containing bonsai akadama in garden centers to detail – and even rarer for nurseries to carry akadama in bags, is not unusual. Check with your local nursery to see if they are carriers Akadama or general purpose bonsai mixtures.
Before buying mixtures general purpose bonsai that do not contain akadama, check with a local club or professional bonsai to learn more about whether the mixture is recommended for your purposes. If you have a very small collection of bonsais a general purpose premix can be great for your tree or trees, but if you have a serious collection, do some research before buying.
The online search for akadama and mixtures of bonsai Akadama turn to a large number of results. Pricing and shipping rates can vary greatly – you can pay to do your homework. I will return recommend starting your research among experienced enthusiasts in your area and branch to online resources as forums for more specific information that relates to their trees.
I’ve been using akadama in Northern California for more than 20 years. I have used many brands in many different combinations with lava, pumice, sand, bark and most of the other ingredients you can imagine. For over a decade, I’ve been happy with the mix of Boon. I depending on the variety of tree settings and stage of development, but generally follow the simple recipe of lava, pumice and akadama.
I’ve been tempted to switch to different mixtures – and continue to experience every year -., But I still have to produce better results with different mixtures
In 2015, it began importing akadama shaped clay King premix. I am also bringing in Kotobuki Akadama. I therefore available wholesale, retail and online. If you are interested in learning more, information is available on the website of bonsai soil.
If you have any questions about akadama or bonsai soil, in general, do not hesitate to ask for the publication of the following questions or contact me directly – I’ll be happy to help
This article was originally published on bonsaitonight.com