Just getting started with bonsai. I’m trying to develop trunks and other material as quickly as possible. I’m trying to understand watering, fertilizing, and soil composition so I can grow bonsai material as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, I’m unable to grow the ground as I don’t have the resources. I live in central Texas. Should I be growing in 1:1:1 Akadama, pumice, lava? Or are there other soil compositions better suited for development?
Depends on what you are growing. 1:1:1 is usually good for conifers but you may need to up the akadama in thirstier trees.
Try the asymmetry podcast with Telperian Farms for tips on developing trees quickly.
And large containers if you want to develop fast (and can’t plant in the ground). Bonsai containers slow down development.
I find pure pumice is good for development too. Akadama seems a bit pricy if you are looking for rapid development. It’s better for the refinement part of the process.
And once it’s potted, just let it grow. Don’t prune except when absolutely necessary. Let the tips run as much as possible.
Another option is to build a grow box with slots on the side to allow the roots to escape and get to the ground. Then you’ll get the benefits of the microbial activity. Once a year you cut back the roots.
Soil composition is species dependent, so you’ll have to provide more info.
That said, there are no shortcuts as far as I can tell, yet many ways to set yourself back years. Typically due to impatience…so I’m doomed.
Texas has a very active bonsai community. Ask locals what they’re doing to get the results you seek.