How to make bonsai soil at home?” is a question many gardeners have. Making your own bonsai soil can be cost-effective and ensures that the soil mix is customized to your plant’s specific needs.

How to Make Bonsai Soil at Home Plantamerica

By using the right components, you can create a well-draining and nutrient-rich soil mix that promotes healthy root growth. Keep reading to learn more about making bonsai soil.

How To Easily Make Bonsai Soil at Home?

To easily make bonsai soil at home, start by selecting your ingredients, such as akadama, lava rock, pumice, fine grit sand, perlite, and vermiculite, and then mix the ingredients. Once the soil mix is ready, fill the pot for your bonsai tree.

1. Common Materials Used for Bonsai Soil

To make bonsai soil at home, you will need a few materials. You must know that the traditional bonsai soil is Akadama bonsai soil, a type of fine-grained clay found in Japan, but it can’t be easily found in other locations.

Common Materials Used for Bonsai Soil Plantamerica

However, you can also use bonsai soil mix without akadama which uses other materials such as diatomaceous earth, pumice, calcined clay, or lava rock. These alternatives are also good options for those who want to avoid using non-renewable resources or those on a budget.

Fine grit sand is another essential component of bonsai soil as it helps to improve drainage and is often preferred over river sand as it is rougher and allows water to drain away more efficiently, preventing root rot. Organic compost or well-rotted manure can also be added to the mix to provide nutrients for bonsai trees.

Perlite or vermiculite are optional materials that can be added to the mix to improve moisture retention. These are lightweight and absorbent, ideal for water retention without heavy soil. At the same time, perlite and vermiculite can also improve soil aeration and root growth.

Overall, the key to making bonsai soil at home is to find a balance between drainage, nutrient retention, and moisture, so the right mix depends on the particular needs of your bonsai tree and the climate in which it grows. By experimenting with different materials and ratios, you can find the perfect mix for your bonsai tree and ensure its healthy growth for years to come.

It’s important to note that, when purchasing these materials, you should get them from a reputable supplier as not all akadama, pumice, and lava rock are created equal. Some may contain impurities that can harm your bonsai plants.

2. Select the Right Ingredients for Your Bonsai Type

When selecting ingredients for your homemade bonsai soil mix recipe, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your bonsai trees. Different tree species have different soil requirements, so it’s important to research the best soil mix for your tree. Also, factors such as climate, water retention, drainage, and nutrient needs should also be taken into account.

It’s important to choose high-quality ingredients for your bonsai soil mix to ensure the best growth and health for your tree. You should look for materials that are free of chemicals and contaminants and avoid using soil from your garden or outdoor environment. This could introduce pests and diseases to your bonsai tree, which isn’t desirable.

Peat moss is a good bonsai soil substitute if you add other materials into the mix. However, since peat moss doesn’t contain many nutrients, you should also add some bonsai fertilizer into the mix.

3. Mix the Ingredients

Mixing the ingredients in the right ratio with the right soil pH is key to creating a balanced bonsai mixture. A recommended or common mix ratio is 1:1:1, which means equal parts of each ingredient, such as one cup of Akadama soil, sand or grit, and organic compost or manure.

Mixing Bonsai Soil Ingredients Plantamerica

This ratio provides a good balance of moisture retention, drainage, and nutrient availability. However, the ratio can be adjusted depending on your tree’s needs and the climate in which it grows. For example, if your tree requires more drainage, you can increase the grit or sand in the mix.

Thoroughly mixing the ingredients is an important step to ensure that the bonsai soil components are evenly distributed and balanced, so you need to start by placing all of the ingredients in a container, such as a bucket, and mix them using a trowel while being sure to mix the soil well so that there are no pockets of one ingredient in the soil.

4. Sieve the Soil and Test Its Texture

Once you have mixed your components thoroughly in a larger container, the next step is to sieve the soil mix to remove any fine particles or dust. This is an important step in ensuring the quality of your bonsai soil mix, as any fine particles or dust can block drainage holes and affect the health of your plant’s roots.

Once you have mixed the ingredients, be sure to test the soil’s moisture level by squeezing a handful of soil tightly in your hand. Make sure that the soil holds together but crumbles easily when squeezed. If the soil is too wet, add more grit or sand to improve drainage, and if it’s too dry, add more organic material to improve moisture retention.

It’s essential to note that the amount of soil potting mix you need will depend on the size of your bonsai plant. It’s best to make more than you need, so you have enough for future repotting or for starting new bonsai plants.

When mixing the components, it’s also important to wear a dust mask to prevent yourself from consuming the fine particles. Akadama, pumice, and lava rock can all produce dust, which can irritate your eyes and respiratory system.

5. Mix for Larger Batches

If you need to create a larger batch of bonsai soil mix, increase the amount of each ingredient while maintaining the 1:1:1 ratio. For example, if you want to produce a three-gallon batch of soil, use three larger measures of Akadama soil, three of sand or grit, and three of organic compost or manure.

Making Larger Batches Bonsai Soil Plantamerica

To mix a larger batch, use a larger container, such as a wheelbarrow or garden cart, and a cultivator or garden fork to mix the ingredients thoroughly. And as you mix the soil, check the moisture level and adjust the ratio of organic material and grit as needed. With some experimentation, you can find the right balance of ingredients to create the perfect soil mix for your tree.

6. Fill the Pot

Once you have mixed the soil and achieved the desired moisture retention, drainage, and nutrient balance, it’s time to use the mix to fill the bonsai pot for your tree. First, remove the old potting soil and clean the pot thoroughly to remove any debris or contaminants.

Then, add a layer of drainage material, such as small rocks or broken pottery, to the bottom of the pot to help prevent waterlogging.

The next step is to add the bonsai organic soil mix to the bonsai pots, leaving enough room for the tree’s root ball. Gently place the tree’s roots into the organic soil mix while carefully filling in the remaining space with more bonsai mix.

Finally, water the soil thoroughly to help settle it and remove any air pockets, and with the right bonsai soil mix and proper bonsai care, your tree will thrive and grow into a beautiful work of art.

7. Water and Monitor

After repotting your bonsai tree with fresh bonsai soil mixtures, it’s important to water it thoroughly and monitor it closely for the first few weeks. You should water the tree until the soil is fairly moist, but be careful not to water it excessively, as this can lead to root rot.

Bonsai Soil Mix Monitor Plantamerica

Even though you could also use regular potting soil for your bonsai trees, it’s better to mix your own, so you can control the moisture level more easily. Check the moisture daily by inserting your finger at least an inch into the soil. If it seems moist, wait a day or two before watering again.

During the first few weeks, keep the bonsai plants in a shaded area to help them recover from the stress of repotting. Also, regularly check for any signs of stress or disease, such as yellowing leaves or wilting branches. With proper care and attention, your tree will adjust to its new soil and continue to thrive.


Making good bonsai soils at home isn’t very hard, if you follow the right steps, use the right ingredients, and understand the soil requirements of bonsai trees. Here’s a summary to help you remember basic bonsai soil requirements:

  • Start by selecting your ingredients. Akadama soil is the traditional choice for bonsai soil, but it can be substituted with diatomaceous earth, pumice, or lava rock.
  • Fine grit sand or grit can improve drainage, and organic compost or well-rotted manure can be added for nutrients.
  • Mix the ingredients in a ratio of 1:1:1 (one part Akadama soil, one part sand or grit, and one part compost or manure). If using perlite or vermiculite, add a small amount to the mix.
  • Thoroughly mix the ingredients in a large container, such as a plastic tub or bucket. If you want to prepare a larger batch, increase the amounts of each ingredient in the same 1:1:1 ratio.
  • Once the soil mix is ready, use it to fill the pot for your tree. Add enough bonsai potting soil so the tree’s roots can be fully covered, but leave some space at the top of the pot for watering.

We hope now you can make your bonsai soil at home so you can start tending to these miniature wonders and watch them thrive.

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