Psuedo Science in the Bonsai World

I have come across a few articles either online or in Bonsai publications that use illogical logic to try and prove a theory, point or reason why they do what they do. The reasoning sounds logical but it doesn’t have the science to back it up. I was reading through an article in a bonsai publication regarding bonsai soils and it stopped me dead. It was written by a well known bonsaist that had years of training by bonsai masters. The statements that were made regarding soils and root systems sounded logical but was not based on any science at all and in all actuality was fundamentally wrong.

Here is an example

Quote “The idea is that by allowing the soil to dry out more rapidly, trees will naturally send out more roots in search of moisture. Our job is to then quench this soil with water on a more frequent basis so as to keep the new feeder roots alive and healthy.”

“This continual process of rapid drying out and frequent quenching is what produces fine, healthy root systems and in turn better foliar growth.”

I really don’t think so, where is the science to back this up. What I learned as an Arborist was In reality is fine roots grow in moist FERTILE well aerated soils and branch more. Roots that search for water are not feeder roots.

Dr. Shigo on the Rhizosphere –

1. Root hairs on non-woody roots are extensions of single epidermal cells. Common on seedlings, root hairs grow to maturity in a few days. They function for a few weeks and then begin to die.

On mature trees, they are usually not abundant. When they do form, they do so when soil conditions are optimum for absorption of water and elements

 This statement uses the words ‘fine organic components

“Soil mixes that contain higher percentages of fine, organic components such as bark and peat will provide a growing environment counter-productive to our developmental goals.”

Not true where is the science?

A totally false statement with no science. In reality fine roots grow in moist FERTILE well aerated  soils with more branching.

“Yes, these mixtures hold more moisture, making watering an easier process because the soil dries out less often. But if the soil remains wetter for longer, roots are not being actively encouraged to grow, which will be reflected by poor foliar growth.” —- Not entirely true at all

Non-woody tree roots are organs that absorb water and elements dissolved in it. The two basic types of non-woody roots are:

1. Root hairs on non-woody roots are extensions of single epidermal cells. Common on seedlings, root hairs grow to maturity in a few days. They function for a few weeks and then begin to die.

On mature trees, they are usually not abundant. When they do form, they do so when soil conditions are optimum for absorption of water and elements. I have found root hairs growing in non-frozen soils beneath frozen soils in winter.

Flower Buds

All the nutrition that is required for a flower bud to open already exists in the bud. Removal is not necessary and flowering does not take any energy from the plant. Seed production does and removing spent blooms stops seed production

Superthrive

Snake oil people who claim it works have zero science to back them up. Those that sell it and those that use it have lost all credibility with me.

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