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Germination Of Bonsai Seeds

Germination begins when moisture enters through the coating of a seed. Within the intial process of germination, the environment, the soil mix ingredients and the care taken in planting all contribute greatly. In some cases more help is required and with bonsai growing that is stratification.




Growing Bonsai From Seed

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One big problem with bonsai seeds is if you plant them too deeply they will fail. So you just cover the seed now as this will keep the environment moist and prevent the seed from moving after watering. The covering of the seed should be about 2 - 4 times the diameter of the seed itself. In most cases this will just be a light sprinkling over the top of it. You can use a flour sifter here for easier and gentler covering.


Watering The Bonsai Seed


When you water the seeds you do not want to disturb them with large volumes of water. Use a garden syringe or one of those fine rose watering cans that one can purchase.. After the seeds have germinated they can be watered with a fungicide to reduce any chance of that well known disease "damping off".


Care And Maintenance Of The Bonsai Seed


It is late winter which is ideal for seed sowing and the propagation of future bonsai plants. You want the pot to be in a sheltered position on a level and clean surface. Unexpected flooding can happen from heavy rainfall and if the pot is not on a level surface, the seed will be washed to the lower side or even completely from the pot.

You will know germination has occured when you see green shoots coming through the peat and sand mix. These green shoots must not be allowed to dry out. When these green shoots are able to be picked with the thumb and finger, they need to be removed, have the roots pruned and then potted again for growing on.

Root pruning entails taking a millimetre or two of the growing point. This will prevent a taproot developing and also encourage the progree of a fibrous root system.


Growing Bonsai Plants From Cuttings


It is also advantageous to propagate bonsai material from cuttings. These cuttings will flower, fruit and foliage that of the parent tree it comes from. Compared to seedlings, bonsai from cuttings will flower at a young age and tend to produce its own root system after about 3 months.

Bonsai cuttings can be divided in to 3 categories. First are the soft tip cuttings which one takes from a parent tree after approximately 6 weeks of spring growth. They tend to be soft and succulent and can at times prove to be very difficult to work with. Secondly there are the semi hardwood cuttings which are taken from the parent tree in early summer and are 12 or so weeks old. Thirdly there is the hardwood cutting. These are taken in autumn and winter time.


Preparing Bonsai Cuttings


Semi hardwood cuttings are taken in early summer from new shoots. You want to select these cuttings from clean and healthy looking twigs and have them about 7 - cm long. Take the cutting and cut a piece of bark from the bottom of the cutting (about 2 cm) and remove the leaves. The cutting should then be dipped in water, removed and have the surplus water shaken off. Dust the cutting after this with a hormone rooting powder and then insert the cutting in to a pot filled with an already prepared mix of sand and peat. It can take anything up to 12 weeks for the roots to develop.

Hardwood cuttings are usually taken from deciduous trees. They tend to be leafless and do not require the same care as semi hardwood cuttings. The cuttings can be up to 25 cm long. Again remove bark at the bottom of the cutting and follow the same procedure with water and root hormone powder as with semi hardwood cuttings. Planting is also done in the same way.



Growing bonsai from seed is a slow and long term project, but not difficult, and it does have its advantages. You can produce plants in quantity this way, very cheaply and no special equipment is required.

To collect the seeds you wish to germinate you must locate the trees from which you wish to harvest from. Finding out the information for when the seeds are "ripe" is very important regarding when you start working with the seeds. Bonsai seeds can be ripe from late summer all the way through to early winter.

The seed may be contained in a fleshy fruit such as a berry or pome. Here the colour of the seed will indicate harvesting time. Once the fruit has been collected the seed needs to be washed and the flesh of the fruit disposed of. Once washed the seed has to be thoroughly dried and then stored for late winter sowing. Seeds can be easily stored for a year or so and in some cases for as long as 6 years.

Seeds in pods can be identified as harvest ready by their colour or dryness of their outer coating. These types of seeds should be collected and stored. During storage the pods will súsually split open and the seed will be discharged. Most seeds of this type are best sown in late winter but there are variations to this as with the acorn, which should be sown in autumn.

Storing these seeds is best down in a stong type of paper bag which is tied tightly at the top. This should keep any unwanted vermin from getting to the seeds. Remember it is important for the seeds to dry naturally and any storing container must be dry when you place the seeds in it. Moisture will allow fungus to develop, rendering the seed useless. Glass and plastic containers are the worst culprits for creating a moisture rich environment.



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Sowing Mediums


Preferred mediums are clean and simple mixes. Peat moss and sand are extremely popular theses days with the mix ratio being 40% peat and 60% sand. The peat should be moist and then rubbed between the hands to reduce it down to small particles. Once reduced to tiny particles it is then mixed thoroughly with the sand. To ensure that the sand is clean one can wash it in a bucket with some running water. Stir the sand around in the water until the water shows up clean. In order to mix the sand better with the peat, the sand should be reasonably dry.


Sowing Bonsai Seeds


Once you have mixed your peat and sand together place the mix in to a clean pot all the way up to the top of the pot without compressing. Level off and then press the mix down very lightly to give you a gap from the surface of the mix to the top of the pot of about 2 cm. Take your seeds and place them on the surface of your mix, but do not allow the seeds to touch each other.






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Certain cold climate seeds will require cold storage when theses trees are grown outside of their usual growing climate. This is stratification. For example the Japanese Maple will flower and produce seeds in a temperate zone but the seed will hardly ever germinate as the winter temperatures in the temperate zone are inadequate, as the seeds need to be overwintered.


The seed has to be collected at the beginning of autumn and the wings removed. The seed should then be placed in moist peat, put in to a plastic bag and sealed. This plastic bag should then be placed in your fridge for at least 60 days. Once the seed begins to swell it should be sown.

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