Question: Cutting

Hi, I would like to try to get bonsai from cutting, I have already bought the rooting hormone (cipher) but I can't find the soil for substratum (peat and river sand). Do you think I can use universal soil?
Ps: I follow your videos on yt congratulations !!!

Answer: Talea

Dear Antonella,
the substrate for the cuttings bed must be draining and soft, so that the small roots develop without finding big obstacles, and at the same time so that the water of the waterings does not stagnate; it is generally suggested to mix river sand with a peat-based soil, simply because it is the easiest material to find, even perlite or vermiculite, or small gravel, but very light. In the nursery we hardly find these products, because they are not commonly used by all gardening enthusiasts, they are in fact materials used by professionals, or by those who dedicate themselves to layering, cuttings, sowing.
You can very well use universal soil, but look for a really good one, because the soil sold at a low price or in non-specialized shops sometimes, after a few days, becomes a rigid and compact, practically impermeable mass, where your cuttings will struggle to develop.
I suggest you still look for sand, or another inert material; generally they are products that are easily found in hobby shops, in the area dedicated to construction, or even in stores that sell only building materials, or stones and granulates; be careful to ask for washed river sand, or other inconsistent material that is suitable for gardening, because often in these shops the sand is sold already mixed with cement, or other adhesives. If you ask an experienced salesman he will advise you without problems. I find all these products, including perlite, in a store that only sells granules, gravels, pebbles; and when I go there I often find only people who buy something for their garden.
In any case, if you really can't find the sand, simply remember that the cuttings must be able to root with ease, and therefore the substrate must be draining and not very compact; it also avoids leaving the substrate constantly soaked with water. If you water it before inserting the cuttings, and then place it in a saucer, it will be enough to vaporize the earth, and sporadically add a little water to the saucer, which by capillarity will moisten all the soil in the container.
Many bonsaists to the cuttings prefer the layering, because it allows to obtain in practice already well-formed prebonsai; proceed by selecting a branch that has an interesting shape, at the base of this branch the bark is cut by making a circle (there are those who suggest leaving a small piece of continuous bark, who thinks it is useless) around the branch, on which one splashes of rooting hormone; it positions itself around the branch, in the area of ​​the skinning, of the wet soil, to be kept in position with a transparent plastic bag. The branch is expected to root, often watering, with the use of a syringe if you do not want to move the plastic; when you see the roots, cut the branch under the skin and repot the new plant.