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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Further Comment on Turface

     Shortly after I posted my last post, I also ran the "Turface question" by Jerry Meislik, another very experienced bonsai grower. Many know Jerry as "Mr. Ficus." He has specialized in tropicals, especially Ficus, for many years, and I'm confident no one in the USA knows more about growing tropicals successfully in a cold climate!

Like Jack Wikle, Jerry had been contacted for comment by the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society; he and Rhona lived in Ann Arbor for many years before moving to the beautiful mountains of Montana. He also shared his response with me, and here it is, slightly edited for compactness.

"I think Jack's summation is accurate and totally appropriate. I agree with [his] analysis and wording.

Folks in the South, especially Florida, have vilified Turface for years. I suspect but can't prove that they had "Turface" that looked right but broke down quickly and created root problems. Likely they were sold kitty litter that looked like Turface but in actuality was not. But this is total conjecture on my part.

Turface, the real stuff, has stood the test of time by many excellent growers.

As always, experiment with different materials; but do it in tiny steps and [with] small test samples, with your expendable plants; and compare the new to your standard."

I think Jerry (and others) are right in suspecting that some people have been sold "Turface" that was not in fact Turface® but something else; something that was composed of a different clay to begin with, and/or fired at a lower temperature; and then passed off as something it was not. But at this point I don't know how to prove or disprove that suspicion.

One way or another, I agree completely with Jerry's advice: to keep experimenting to find what works best for you, but do it in steps and with expendable plants.

To visit Jerry's website, please click here. (I haven't bought either of his books yet, but they're on my wish list.)

:-)  :-)  :-)

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