Calcium supplementation

So, something Ryan has mentioned a couple of times is that bonsai are “typically” lacking in calcium…which got me thinking. In addition to bonsai, I also raise chickens and keep a coral reef setup. Both need calcium for a variety of reasons but for chickens, to primarily build eggshells (1 egg every 26 hours or so) and for corals to build new skeletons. I give the chickens crushed oyster shells for their needs, and the reef gets calcium from aragonite.

My question is, has anyone tried to use either as a supplement in the 1:1:1 soil mix that some (most?) of us are using? My thought was trying to use a few tablespoons of either on top of the mound just before setting the tree in the pot. For that matter, I have an almost limitless supply of eggshells that I can microwave, crush and add to the layer just beneath the roots.

What’s everyone’s opinion?

I thought it was silica but I might be wrong

I believe Ryan said that most bonsai lack both calcium and silicon based upon testing. Both are fairly insoluble in water at the pH level that is optimal for tree growth so common solid forms are not very efficient ways to provide them.

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Thank you for explaining that point.

I should add that bone ash and shells will slowly supply calcium for our bonsai since they are both somewhat porous which increases solubility. Ground limestone is used in agriculture, most often in conjunction with sulfur since it will since in the active part of the soil for years.

I think there is also something missing in terms of calcium uptake depends on another element, can’t quite remember if this is true but thought I’d throw it here in case I need to be corrected and if not what it is. I think calcium goes hand in hand with something else.

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The rabbit hole is very deep here lol

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I recognize that we are also talking nutrient balance with respect to this discussion. I’m trying to understand if silica allows for more calcium uptake by optimizing ionic binding sites or is silica independent of calcium uptake? I recall Ryan mentioning silica helps remove certain toxicities through transpiration, but I need to find, rewatch and take better notes.

I believe so as well. I need to find that.

I have found with bonsai, every single topic I pick leads to yet another rabbit hole… :rofl:

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In the nutritional lecture series Ryan seemed pretty adamant about testing to determine which calcium supplement would be most appropriate for a given tree (something most of us obviously can’t afford).

If you’re deriving calcium from an animal byproduct, the high sodium content can make that calcium unavailable and detrimental to tree’s overall health. I believe he addresses this around the two and a half hour mark in the lecture.

Replying to multiple comments here,

Long long ago I learned about fertilisation and soil, it was the only course I had to take a re-exam on. So take this with a grain of salt (pun intended).

There are multiple things influencing this, iirc all the multiple value positive ions Mg2+ compete with each other, also Ca2+ uptake is largely passive and immobile in the plant. The function is mainly in cel membranes.

Silica is another interesting one it plays a role in the plant immune system and stress response,

But as others said this is very complex topic.

I believe that tissue sampling for nutrient content can help, I wonder if it is relevant for most of us. First know your water, rain water is best, if you use tap water request the content report from the supplier and if you use well water test it. After that us regular troubleshooting to get down to the root cause.

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That is a good bit of the fun.

After speaking to the folks at Eden
My interpretation of the two most needed minerals are
Calcium and Phosphate
Neither moves without the other.
By using a surfactant that helps things move and using 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphate in theory we would be on the right path,
Sil and carbon are also important

What is the most important is that whatever you are using is in a plant available form.

It doesn’t matter if it is in the soil, if the plant can’t use it. Which is why some traditional methods in agriculture are being proven to be invalid.

The correct minerals with the correct PH are key to things being plant available.

The problem with untested minerals is the aluminum content, or salt contents which then create a in balance in the system and lead to issues.

It is very hard to figure it all out without Apical testing.
But look for clues through the information available on the Eden websites
And email them, they are very responsive to their customers, and they are very friendly folks, good people!!!

I have inexpensive trees, I have NOT TESTED
But I am having excellent results with Eden Blue Gold Garden
( which is the same as the commercial base but with added things)
And Blue Gold Super carb which is a molasses based supplement to feed the soil biology.

The consumer website is bluegoldgarden and you will find smaller sizes with consumer based recommendations for application rates

However it is important to heed their warnings
You have to go organic if you are going to use their products
Test on your garden or lawn first
Use small amounts to start.

I am more then willing to email in a private email what I am doing
However I think it would be irresponsible to list it here.
I am a hack, a beginner with inexpensive trees and my main goal is keeping them alive and kicking. I have no trees in refinement.

Best of luck, CP


Hey, I would love to know more details about your treatment, have considered doing the same. Please email me more when you have the time: Thanks!

For anyone looking to go deeper down the rabbit hole. Calcium uptake is linked to the “environment” or transportation rate of the tree. Salinity is also a common antagonist preventing calcium uptake. The deeper you go the more holes there are :sob:

I have been using TPS calmag supplement. I guess ill see how it goes trees seem good but im only doing it every coulple weeks.