I live in the Dallas, Texas area and noted that the June 2009 issue of the Fog City Bonsai, rice hulls are included in the soil mix for Black Pines along with Akadama and Pumace. Because of our summer climate conditions I have been advised by two different local bonsai sources that since I will be growing them in colanders in medium sized AP and lava I should use small sized pine bark mulch or no organic material. I plan to repot my pines between mid February or March. If rice hulls are recommended, what is the correct ratio for use with APL?
Good question - growing pines near Dallas can be tricky. I avoid organic material in my bonsai mix and my understanding is that the Bonsai Smiths use a similar mix consisting of lava, pumice and akadama. They’ve been growing pines in Texas for a long time with good results.
If anyone’s been using rice hulls in Texas for a long time, it’d be interesting to see the results.
I think Akadama, Pumice, Lava(Scoria) with a small amount of Hort Charcoal is your best bet. This is a very standard mix for professionals. I have used pine bark in the past with so so to bad results. I don’t believe roots seem to like bark as much as volcanic soil like A.P.L. If you think about it bark is often used as mulch to keep plants from growing on bare ground. Plants don’t grow in the layer of bark you spread on the ground. I have not used rice hulls, however would imagine that you are better off with A.P.L.