Growing bonsai from seed is a fascinating and rewarding hobby. However, you may wonder if it’s possible to grow bonsai trees from seed. It’s quite natural, after all, many bonsai trees that we see today began life as little plants growing in a pot in the shadow of a grandparent or parent’s house.
In this article, I’ll attempt to explain the ins and outs of growing bonsai from seed to help you better understand whether it’s worth pursuing.
Where to Get Tree Seeds:
The first thing you need to think of if you are planning to grow bonsai from seed is how to obtain the seeds you’ll need. You can collect tree seeds from your surroundings or can buy them from a shop.
There are several places online you can buy seeds for your bonsai trees, from Asian nurseries to eBay and even Amazon.
Trees that are grown from seed will grow into trees just like the parent plant. A bonsai tree is created by training a regular tree and not by growing the tree from seed in a special way.
Actually, there’s no such thing as a “bonsai tree seed” because all bonsai trees are grown from regular seeds.
Types of Seeds for Bonsai:
You can use the seeds of any tree or plant to grow a bonsai tree. Collect the seeds from local trees that are not cultivated and are not regularly used in bonsai.
Trees that are good for bonsai are those that have thick trunks, large leaves, and long branches. Some examples of trees that make good bonsai include pine, fir, spruce, larch, cedar, elm, juniper, hemlock, and yew.
Preparation and Choosing The Best Soil:
The first thing that you should do is prepare the soil that the seeds will be planted in. Most bonsai trees should be grown in individual containers and placed on a tray with drainage holes.
Bonsai seeds are slow to germinate, so be patient. Seeds typically take 30-60 days to germinate but can take longer. Some species of Bonsai trees can take up to 6 months or more to germinate depending on the temperature of the environment.
Once you’ve collected the seeds, it may be necessary to perform a process called stratification on them before they can be planted. Stratification of bonsai seeds is a process that mimics the natural conditions the seeds would have experienced before germinating.
There are two methods for stratifying seeds: moist and dry. The more common method is the moist method, where seeds are placed in a moist medium for storage, generally between about 40 F (4 C) and 50 F (10 C). It mimics the effect of winter on seeds.
The seeds should be kept moist but not wet, as excess water will induce rot, possibly killing the seed. Stratifying seeds with a moist medium can take as little as two weeks or as long as several months, depending on the species and condition of the seed.
Scarification involves a process of filing or scratching the seed coat to allow water and gases to penetrate. This enables seeds to sprout and germinate.
Trees such as eucalyptus and acacia have naturally thick seed coats that will not allow them to germinate even if planted in ideal conditions.
Once you’ve scarified your seeds there are several ways to speed up germination. One common method is placing them into warm water for about a week before planting them.
This allows the root to form before being planted. Other methods include soaking in lukewarm water overnight and then planting immediately
The seeds should then be planted approximately 1/4 -1/2 of an inch into the soil and then covered with more soil to promote healthy growth.
Be sure not to pack down the soil too much when adding it back onto the surface of the container as this can inhibit air circulation and water absorption by the seedlings!
Things That Affect Bonsai Tree Growth
The growth of your bonsai tree is affected by various conditions. Some conditions are directly under your control, while others are not. Providing proper growing conditions is important if you want to get a good-looking bonsai tree.
Here are some of the things that impact your bonsai tree growth
Most bonsai trees need lots of light during the day. The ideal situation is a south-facing window where it gets morning sun, but can also get bright afternoon sunlight as well.
If you live in a cold climate, try to provide as much light as possible without freezing the plant. In some cases, where you can’t provide enough heat or light, you can supplement natural sunlight with artificial lighting such as fluorescent lights.
Your tree needs water to survive just like all other plants do. Watering the bonsai correctly is crucial for its survival and overall health. A common mistake made by beginning bonsai owners is to overwater their plants. Overwatering causes root rot and kills the tree just like underwatering does.
Here is a useful article that talks about how to properly water your bonsai trees.
Bonsai trees grow best when they’re in containers that have ample drainage holes. Water should drain freely from the bottom of the pot, and should not accumulate around the trunk of the tree. Choose a large enough pot so that you can add additional soil when you repot your bonsai tree.
make sure that the temperature doesn’t get below 25 degrees Fahrenheit during the growing season. It is also important to have enough humidity for the ideal growth of the tree.
Bonsai tree roots must be placed in an appropriate growing medium or soil to be healthy and grow properly. If the soil is not rich enough or contains soil with too much sand or clay, it may not provide proper nutrients for the bonsai tree to grow properly.
Soil should be loose, rich, and fertile enough to allow the roots to take up water and nutrients properly; otherwise, the tree will suffer from malnutrition if the soil is not a good growing medium for bonsai trees.
Fertilizer and Nutrients :
Fertilizer is very important in the optimal growth of bonsai trees as they require nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for their healthy growth.
Feeding your bonsai is not something that should be done every day or even every week; this could burn the roots of your tree. It is best to feed your bonsai every couple of months with fertilizer mixed with water at half strength; this will feed your tree’s leaves as well as its roots.
Maintenance and care:
Growing bonsai trees is an art in itself. The trees are grown in pots and are shaped over time to have a miniature look.
There are several species of bonsai trees, some of which can be pruned and wired to form desired shapes.
The maintenance of the tree depends on the type of tree species being grown and the kind of soil used for growing.
Bonsai trees are also prone to many pests and diseases, and they can slow down the growth of the plant if not kill them.
How to speed up the bonsai growing process
Bonsai trees can be grown from seed, cuttings, seedlings, or from small plants that are already well-established. If you are starting with seeds, realize that it will take you a very long time to have a mature bonsai.
The same goes for cuttings—you will need to spend quite a lot of time before your bonsai is mature enough to look good as an accent piece in your home or office.
Bonsai trees that are grown from seedlings are the fastest option because they grow much faster than trees of the same species that started out as seeds or cuttings and can reach maturity in just a few years.
Fast growing bonsai trees:
Most Bonsai trees will only grow approximately half an inch every two years. But some species grow faster than others. if you choose any of those varieties your bonsai growth will be much faster.
I discussed everything about the bonsai growth rate in this post, see that for more information.
Overall, growing bonsai trees from seed is really not all that hard. There are some steps that you need to follow.
With a little preparation and the right equipment and techniques, you can be well on your way to adding your very own seed-grown bonsai tree to your bonsai collection.