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Perlite? Haydite? Turface?

16 years ago

As a complete newbie to bonsai, I am trying to find a soil mixture that I can begin with. At various times in my readings, I have found the above amendments suggested. I am wondering if these soil components are interchangeable? Do they all do the same thing?

Perlite is readily available in my small community whereas the other conditioners are not.

Comments (15)

  • gnome_in_pa
    16 years ago


    All three products are inorganic material that promotes drainage, aeration and water retention. Perlite is expanded volcanic rock, think mineral popcorn. Turface is fired clay while Haydite is fired shale, either can be used in bonsai culture, use whichever you can find at the best price. They are the domestic equivalent of expensive imported bonsai soils.
    I purchased my first bag of Turface through the mail and paid a premium for shipping what is essentially rock. This last summer I found a local source for Haydite and bought some in bulk at a substantial savings. Check landscape companies that sell mulch and gravel in bulk. You can also try groundskeepers at ball-fields and golf courses. If you decide to purchase Turface be sure to specify the MVP grade, the size is more appropriate for bonsai. Sifting will also be required to remove the fines of any of these products.

    Check the archives on this forum for discussions about various soil mixes.


    Here is a link that might be useful: Soil discussion

  • rjj1
    16 years ago

    Depending on what region of the country you live and the manufacturer, haydite can be made from clay, shale or slate. Here in Oklahoma it's clay.

    I buy it from the manufacturer here by the yard.


  • drroberttrimmer
    16 years ago

    I cannot find Turface here locally but did find Schultz's Soil Conditioner which is from the same manufacturer Profile and looks like Turface and behaves in water like Turface. The Schultz product I found comes in 5 lb packages for $4.95.

  • ckramos
    16 years ago

    I did my research and found turface at...
    oip sports in enumclaw, wa for 50lbs for $8
    and evergro in vancouver, bc, canada for 50lbs for $13cdn. Plus you don't have to buy the whole pallet.

    When and if i get some i'm going to to package them in ziplock freezer bags and sell them on ebay for $10 a bag.(sic)

  • lucy
    16 years ago

    Schultz S. Cond. IS turface... just pkg'd differently for them under another name. And to answer your first question, you would use any or all of the things in diff. proportions in diff. mixes, depending on what trees you're growing.

  • chrishendry
    10 years ago

    Hi there. I live near Toronto, Canada.
    Can anyone please tell me where I can buy this Haydite.
    I will need a bunch for my tree collection and can
    not find it in my area at all. How much should I expect
    to pay for it please?

  • diane_v_44
    9 years ago

    did you ever find Haydite or Turface in the Toronto area
    Am hoping to get my hands on some
    Have spent my winter, as usual in Florida and was at a garden club meeting where they used straight Turface or a product by a different trade name to grow Brugmansia in. In containers Fabulous product

  • nelsoncastro
    9 years ago

    The components of any mixture will vary from region to region and from garden to garden. The exact composition will be dependent upon:
    - The types of materials which are available in the area;
    - The local growing conditions and,
    - The type of plant material.

    The term "soil" is really somewhat of a misnomer. The components normally used to create a good potting mixture are, in fact, soilless. They are designed to provide an ideal environment for root growth. In creating this "perfect" environment we also create a few problems for ourselves. First, it should be obvious to even a rank beginner that the rocky concoction described below will dry out a heck of a lock quicker than the sticky black potting soil which most people have been using for years. Secondly, most of the components in the soil mix really are one kind of "rock" or another, which means there is virtually no nutrients in a properly prepared bonsai potting mix. Both of these aspects are unfortunate, but necessary if our soil mixture is to have the success we hope for.

  • raiun42
    9 years ago

    I've never used Hadite.
    I sometime use screened Course Pearlite in mixes in large (Heavy)plantings and cover the ugly pearlite on the surface with volcanic or anything dark.
    I use "turface" in most of my mixes. I don't know where you are located but down South you sometime find turface sold by athletic supplys as 'Mule Mix'. Pretty cheap and not too many fines when screening.
    Good Luck

  • diane_v_44
    9 years ago

    Thanks for the postings about soil

    I have never grown Bonsai, well many years ago I did give it a bit of effort.
    Just came across this forum as it came up when looking for growing mediums. have been a garden web member for ages.
    I know that Turface and this is just onne brand name, is a mixture used on sporting fields primarly I did see it used for growing plants in large pots was really something . Interesting to try. in my own gardening efforts.
    Lovely it is to be in Florida all winter and able to work in your garden most days.

  • Edymnion
    9 years ago

    Another option when trying to find turface, an auto parts store. Ask them for oil absorbent. You'll get a fairly large bag for just a couple dollars.

  • diane_v_44
    9 years ago

    gee that is a good one

    I am going to try that for sure

  • tapla
    9 years ago

    Try the link below the picture for a soil discussion here at GW:


    This is an excellent soil - easily adjusted for water retention by changing the ratio of Turface to grit.


    Here is a link that might be useful: More about soils if you click me!

  • Brandon Smith
    9 years ago

    Quick question.

    I have a business local to me that cuts granite for counter tops/etc. They have a huge pile of the leftovers and it's free for the taking. Would that be an acceptable component of a soil preparation as long as I just broke it down into useable bits?

  • tapla
    9 years ago

    That would be a LOT of work ..... and you'd have to screen it to an appropriate size. I buy screened #2 cherrystone for $5/50 lb bag, and Gran-I-Grit in grower size for about $7/50 lbs.