Question from Neil about grit/pebbles in the soil of his bonsai.

Neil says:

Hi. On inspecting the soil in my Bonsai pot today (which was rather hard and dry, even with daily watering), I discovered several small stones/pieces of grit. What is the purpose of these stones? I removed some of the bigger ones and turned the surface of the soil over a little, before watering again. My Bonsai is a Podocarpus. Many thanks.

  • Bonsai Direct says:

    Hi Neil,
    This is a great question. Bonsai like a free draining soil , the grit is added to the compost to open the soil so that more air can get to the roots.
    This encourages the small fibrous feeder roots which all bonsai growers are looking to develop.
    The grit also helps prevent the bonsai becoming over-watered , although it does sound as though in your case this is not an issue , it may be getting close to the time that it needs repotting.

    If the soil is hard and dry i would recommend watering by standing the bonsai in a sink with a few inches of water in it, for about 10 mins. This will re-wet the soil and make it easier for you to water.
    I hope this helps
    Kind regards


3 thoughts on “Question from Neil about grit/pebbles in the soil of his bonsai.”

  • Mark @ Bonsai Dojo

    Hi Neil,

    The Podocarpus need a loose very well drained soil so I'd even suggest replacing the soil next time its re-potting season.

    If the soil is going hard it may be compacting replacement mix could well be an option.

    Hope this helps you out a bit.

  • kirby davis

    I purchased two tropical indoor bonsai trees about a month ago from a bonsai nursery (a sageretia and schefflera tree). The trees were sold to me with a pebble/grit soil composition. Should I at some point repot both trees with a bonsai soil mix, or leave the pebble/grit composition as is for the time being?

    • Bonsai Direct

      Hi Kirby, The bonsai trees will only need repotting every 1-3 years depending upon their age. I would ask the nursery where you purchased them from when they were last re-potted or root pruned.
      A bonsai soil should have plenty of grit to allow for free drainage and prevent root rot. What you want to ensure is that the soil is not covered in pebbles or grit because then you cannot tell when the soil is dry and they need water,
      I hope this helps
      all the best

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