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Bonsai Soil Test 1: Water Retention!!

Corrections of calculations below.

This video is the first in a series of tests to examine various components often used in bonsai soil mixes. These videos are meant to inform you of what’s available so that you may make your own choices. Soil mixes are determined by tree species, climate, region of the world, and personal preference. No two persons’ mixes are alike. I hope this information is helpful to you. Enjoy!

Retention Values (g @ %) given after 5.25-hour
Rank given for 24-hour Retention based on values.

Organic Rankings:
1. Coconut Coir: 129g @ 14.57% loss
2. Compost: 26g @ 31.58% loss
3. Pine Bark: 22g @ 33.33%
4. Commercial Peat Moss: 6g @ 40% loss

Inorganic Rankings:
1. Diatomaceous Earth: 37g @ 30.19% loss
2. Akadama: 22g @ 26.67% loss
3. Kanuma Pumice: 22g @ 29.03% loss
4. LECA (Turface): 30g @ 36.17% loss
5. Vermiculite: 28g @ 41.67% loss
6. Perlite: 14g @ 36.36% loss
7. Sand: 12g @ 67.56% loss
8. Lava Rock (Scoria): 4g @ 76.47% loss
9. Expanded Shale: 2g @ 84.62% loss
10. Granite Chips: 1g @ 94.44% loss

Quick Corrections:
– Diatomaceous earth is not calcined clay, like Oil-Dri. It is silica based, formed from fossilized algae. Thanks @prana2000!!
– Pine bark’s retention is 33.33%, not 14.86. I miscalculated using overall weight instead of only water weight. Nice catch @GUSTAVO TORRES!!
Quick Clarification:
– The type of pumice used is Kanuma. Big thanks to @john_cloud for the identification!

Dry Weight Values assisted as a base for some other calculations, but their secondary weight rank may be confusing. Apologies there! Thanks @ Nacho Nacho!!

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40 Bình luận

  1. Appalachian Bonsai

    A detailed list of this information is available in the video description, along with corrections and notes. Big shout-outs and thanks to @prana2000, @Nacho_Nacho, @AdornThyHeadset, @GUSTAVO_TORRES & my wife Julie for pointing out needed areas of future improvements! Keep those critiques coming – how else do we learn?! Love to you all!

  2. Sander Brugman

    Love the video. I just repotted a cheap indoor ficus bonsai, because the soil was very dense and cheap. I used a Zeolite and Pumice mixture but i wasn't sure if i had to add something 🙂
    maybe ill add a little bit of moss just incase

  3. Honest Garderner

    this is helpful. thank you!

  4. Enrico D'Addario

    What about Zeolite? What is LECA?

  5. Milton Escobar


  6. Milton Escobar

    Wow. Exelent video. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I use akadama 50%pomice 20%lava rock 20%. 10%. Pine Barck. For deciduous trees. But akadama is expensive material. I’ll try this year 25%akadama and 25% mvp turface. I’ll see what happens.

  7. Dimitrije Krstić

    Does anyone know of a test that compares expanded clay balls (also LECA) to others like pumice for example?

  8. Josephine Henry

    so what is the number t best material for succulents..I live in the south of Manitoba, Winnipeg.canada

  9. Night Coder

    Thank you very much for the informative video. I learned quite a bit.

  10. Clint Parsons

    Your pumice looks more like kanuma.

  11. José Mauricio Fernandez

    Great videos! thanks! Can you tell me how do you prepare your soil? type of element used and proportions? I see that your soil is tiny size.

  12. Not Listed

    I think it would be more practical if the mediums would have had the water stirred into them. The Petemoss/sphagnum would have probably tied for 1st or 2nd. That stuff retains a TON of H2O if you stir it up well.

  13. Shaace Sim

    very engineering. i like it .

  14. Marc De Gagné

    For peat moss, if you want to measure properly it's water renention, it need to be pre moistened with hot water. This will accelarate the water absorption. Further, it's better to sift the dust and smaller particules out to use it and get the best out of it.

  15. Yumi Succulents

    Thank youuuu😫❤️❤️❤️

  16. Rommel Matias

    our Leca here in our country floats on water while the pumice won't very unlikely on these two components you've shown here. wondering why. =)

  17. dodgersfn Shepard

    New to the channel. This was excellent! Curious what part of Appalachia your in & best soil mix you've had luck with?

  18. J.R. Bertholet


  19. Nikos Fants

    Good work my friend, thank you.

  20. Johnny Knoxville

    I called my bonsai nursery, who sold me my tree, and inquired about their soil mixture's pH, when I asked the woman on the phone if she knew what the pH was, or if anyone there did, she couldn't give me an answer. I was a bit shocked. You call so called experts and they can't answer a basic question. That said, their products are top notch, I've now invested in a pH tester to answer the question myself. Great video.



  22. I Am A Duck

    Heh, I have the same scales.


    Thank you for put the dates I description, Is very good. I'm so sorry for my verybad english
    I live in Cd Victoria tamaulipas México

    I like your channel


  24. dixie28

    This is great info for houseplant growers also. I have been looking for this type of test for months and finally found you. Thank you!! Have you done the video on PH for each component??

  25. Daniel Ela

    Very intresting test 😉

  26. Caryn Ludwig

    Wow, you are thorough! Glad I found your channel. Very informative!👍

  27. stevem544

    Very informative. It would be worthwhile to test charcoal and zeolite. Thanks

  28. TTBT

    Thank you so much for testing!

  29. 9 Star VM

    Thanks for making

  30. Jennifer Liebo

    What’s your opinion about using 20-30% vermiculite instead of 20-30% coir for a succulent potting mix ? I see that vermiculite retains far less water . But if it was mixed with pumice and turface , it might round itself out . I’m considering trying this because I keep getting fungus gnats with coir despite sterilization. I’m thinking vermiculite might be less attractive to pests in general. Thanks for the awesome vid. I’ve watched it many times . Very interesting 🤔

  31. Saint Putch

    well done… methodological and data oriented. i read a few online discussions where turface or calcined clay has lost some favor in the bonsai world. i tend to favor pumice and lava rocks. what is your take?

  32. Husin. Salim47

    Sangat membantu dan membangun …..hal yang penting ….. terima kasih …..

  33. Kenjiro

    Turface and leca are different, leca floats and are circular shaped.

  34. Cornelius Bartholemew

    This is the best video on the web for deciding soil components. It leaves opinions and anecdotes behind and presents unadulterated fact. I love it. Thank you so much for the work you put in to make this information accessible. Keep em coming! Subbed!

  35. Tom Furmby

    This test does not take into consideration how much air each media holds so although the test has shown me what the difference is between lava rock and pumice, there is little point to determine which media will perform best..
    A table at the end to plot the results would have been useful, I spotted at least one mistake on the perlite, 22g dry to 37g wet = 15g retained, not 14g.
    But excellent video, thx for posting. I now know lava rock is heavy and pretty useless stuff, good for ornamental purposes only.

  36. Zachary King

    So, if I am growing bonsai trees in coco coir and they are seedlings right now how often should I water them?

  37. MRgreen

    i think he should have wet the peat properly to get the test results. you had to go through the trouble with the coco if you got a block. so treat it fair unless there is a peat moss bias. i bet the peat would have held less water performing about the same as the coir. peat performs better in many cases. the coco coir industry is probably much more damaging then the peat industry. the marketing on the waste product coco coir is deep.

  38. MRgreen

    this is an amazing video. im not into bonsai but i make my own soil mixes. very helpful. ive come back to this video now a few times.

  39. Emmanuel Vazquez

    Bro I been waithing for your new videos

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