Bonsai cultivation in Japanese culture is an art handed down from millennia to generations.
It represents the ideal fusion between man, soul and nature, according to Zen Buddhism.
Bonsai are living nature, despite their small size, they express all the energy present in a large plant.
In a small bowl a micro-world is recreated with rocks, moss and gnarled roots that emerge from the ground.
For the life of bonsai, the type of soil is of great importance, which must be well drained, forming the right degree of humidity, in addition to the mineral salts necessary for its growth and maintenance.
The substrate must not only guarantee an excellent drainage, but also ensuring a stability of temperature, in fact, living the plant in a small amount of land, is more subject to thermal excursion and the substrate in this case has the task of total protection.
Good drained soil means that it is aerated in the right way, ie free circulation of oxygen and a water retention that is able to satisfy the needs of the plant between one watering and another.
It must be taken into account that every soil has its own evaporation rate and each bonsai has different water requirements.
Different soils are required depending on the species, a good mixture is formed by:
- Organic soil,
- Fine gravel.
The universal organic soil, is composed of sand, perlite and sphagnum, has some drawbacks because it retains a lot of water, not area and does not drain very well, but it is fine if used component tops of a compound.
The sand promotes proper drainage, while fine gravel is used in the last layer to increase and improve drainage.
What is the Akadama
The literary name of "AKADAMA" means "ground with red balls".
It is a type of clay, it is presented in microgranules based on silt-clay with a neutral pH, it is of volcanic origin, extracted at a depth of three meters, from the subsoil of the Cryptomerie forests in Japan.
Once collected, the drying process is then heated to free it from pests or foreign organisms and finally it is pulverized in different grain sizes, not perfectly round, that is, coarse, medium and fine.
The first is used in large vessels, to form the first layer that must be more draining.
The Akadama is ideal for repotting all types of bonsai, as it is able to retain the best nutrients following fertilization, making the soil an excellent drainage.
In the first use, it should be mixed with sand, clay, fresh material originating from the pint as well as a slow release fertilizer.
- Provides the right amount of air, water and nutrients.
- It is able to hold water to satisfy the needs of the plant, without causing asphyxiation or rot at the roots.
- It is rich in large quantities of minerals, thanks to its volcanic origins.
The only drawback is that the Akadama, a material that wears over time, starts to fall apart, significantly reducing ventilation, creating the need to reintegrate it.
It is a clayey earth, with a charge that acidifies the water in a significant way in the early times of laying, then absorbing the carbonates of the water becomes saturated, while maintaining the PH on neutral or slightly acid values.
Furthermore, Akadama does not contain fertilizers.
The Akadama available on the market, presents only one color of an amber brown, it is sold in bags, and is presented in three different qualities, marked by one, two or three red bands, which indicate the consistency of grains of earth.
In the same package, the substance is presented in spheres of different diameters in addition to a quantity of dust.
Before using it, it is good to sift it, to divide the grain sizes and to free it from dust, then rinse it under running water, to remove any impurities and leave it to dry in the open air, so it will acquire more hardness and remain more compact for a long time.
First a coarse soil is obtained, ideal for soil drainage and plant rooting, then a medium one to be used as a substrate.
Repotting and watering
Spread a layer of Akadama on the bottom of the vase, using a small stick to facilitate the descent of the granules, then bury the bonsai with its original cake, cover the roots with other soil.
The use of Akadama, as the only soil, is used only for particularly precious specimens, its cost is in fact quite high, precisely because its extraction takes place only in Japan.
The waterings will be more frequent when the dark-colored Akadama will take on the yellowish-reddish color.
It can be found at nurseries or specialist shops, without forgetting the online ones.
Even if the product is bought from a specialized company, it must meet the following requirements:
- The packaged and selected mixtures are suitable for bonsai.
- Ensure that products are tested by known companies.
- That they have been possibly tested by bonsaists and experts.
Bonsai is not only a plant to be admired when strange, but it is like a creature that is growing in our hands, thanks to our care, the greater our commitment, the greater the sensations it will transmit to us, such as strength, maturity, but above all serenity and peace.