How to plant bonsai tree seeds

Bonsai Seed Kit Questions - ALL THINGS BONSAI

About once a week we get someone contacting us regarding bonsai seed kits. Usually, they have bought or received a bonsai tree seed kit as a gift. Once they’ve opened it and had a look at the info included, they have plenty of questions. Here is a page answering the commonly asked questions, along with some notes regarding bonsai seeds.

What are bonsai seeds?

A lot of bonsai enthusiasts are very dismissive of bonsai seed kits. I am too probably, depending on how good the kit is. The main problem I have with these kits is that many (not all) of them give them impression that all you need to do is plant a “bonsai seed” and it will grow into a perfect little bonsai. This is not correct. In reality, there is not such thing as a bonsai tree seed – it is merely the seeds from normal trees. If you plant them and get them to germinate, they’ll grow into normal trees and not into bonsai. The seedlings need training in order to turn them into bonsai trees.

The good thing about bonsai seed kits is that they give people a low cost way to get into the art of growing bonsai.

How do I get bonsai seeds to grow?

The beginning of the process of course is getting the tree seeds to germinate. Now that we know that we have tree seeds and not bonsai seeds, we begin to understand the process. Most of the seed kits talk about stratification – soaking the seeds in water, putting them in the fridge, rubbing the seeds with sandpaper, putting them on cotton wool. All these things are often mentioned.

The right time of year to germinate bonsai tree seeds

My experience of growing seeds is pretty straightforward.

  • I take a seed tray, the kind of black plastic tray that you find in garden centres.
  • Put compost (usually mixed with perlite for drainage and air flow) in the tray.
  • Water it to make sure that all of the compost is wet, allow the excess water to drain away.
  • Put the seeds onto the surface of the soil if they are very small, or push larger seeds (acorns for example) into the compost.
  • Sprinkle with a fine layer of compost
  • Cover the seed tray. You can buy clear plastic tops for this. Search for seed propagators online.
  • Then wait! You’ll need to keep the soil moist. A mist sprayer is really good for this, as watering cans may chug out too much water too quickly and move the seeds around in the tray.

I always start seeds off at the end of winter. Seeds generally expect to grow in spring. That’s natures plan. I find starting seeds off at this time of year gets rid of the need to do any of the stratification business. Think about this though – if the seeds are from exotic, tropical trees, where the seasons don’t work in the same way – how does this affect things? This is where horticultural knowledge starts to kick in. You need to know what kind of seeds you have and research how these species of trees grow. This is another common bugbear that bonsai enthusiasts have with bonsai tree seed kits. Some seed kits give you very little info on species.

What soil do bonsai trees seeds need?

We sell lots of different kind of bonsai soil. As bonsai growers, we use different kinds of materials to make a bonsai soil mix. This gives great results for our mature bonsai. For seeds however, this soil isn’t required. I tend to use compost and mix it will perlite. About 3 parts compost to 1 part perlite. I find that this works fine. This mix holds water but also drains well – roots need to breathe and can rot if constantly sat in water.

Where do I put my bonsai tree seeds?

Trees live outdoors. Only a very few species of trees will survive indoors. Even fewer will thrive indoors. Most of the seeds in bonsai kits need to live outdoors. If you’ve got your seed kit in front of you, have a look at what species of trees you have and search online for each one. For example, if you have Japanese Maple seeds, type in “Japanese Maple bonsai tree care information” or similar to bring up results. Good species guides discuss location.

You’ll probably find that most of your species need to live outdoors. Many seeds will germinate indoors, but once germinated, you’ll need to move the seedlings outside, into a protected location as they are quite fragile at this stage. A greenhouse or similar is great for this. I always germinate seeds in a greenhouse. If space doesn’t allow for a greenhouse, search “How to make a cold frame” for a low cost / small space solution.

What about winter? If you’ve started your tree seeds off in spring, the plants have late spring, summer and autumn to get established. By the time winter comes, the little seedling should get through winter fine, with a little protection – again the greenhouse / cold frame is perfect for this. REMEMBER – trees from warmer parts of the world can be more tender to the cold and can require more winter protection.

How long does it take for bonsai trees to grow?

Growing bonsai trees from seed is a lengthy process. It will take years to produce something that looks like a bonsai and probably a decade or more to produce something that has the wow factor. Nothing wrong with this – but do be aware of how long it will take.

  • Year 1 – get the seed to germinate.
  • Year 2 – grow on the seedling into a healthy little plant. Also a little work on the roots (see below)
  • Year 3 – bonsai training starts.
    St. Lucie Cherry seedlings. Pictured in the autumn of their second year. I probably should have separated them at the end of their first year but will definitely plant them into individual pots this winter. I could wire the trunks at this stage if I want to so that they have movement, now that the wood has lignified.

Pricking out and potting on

If you’ve planted your seeds in groups in a pot or seed tray, you’ll need to separate the seedlings into individual pots to give them space to grow. You’ll need to wait until the seeds are large enough to handle them without breaking them. This is probably at the end of year one or though it could be earlier than this. Search “Pricking out seedlings” for further information.

Bonsai styling of tree seeds

Okay, so your seedling are now established are healthy little trees. Now you can actually start doing bonsai stuff! Here is a bit of a list of things you might do.

Lightly prune the roots and spread them out

I would do this in Feb / March of year 2 or Feb / March of year 3 if the tree is still very small. Normally, trees send their roots downwards for anchorage and to find water. For Bonsai, we want our trees to have a root buttress – lots of visible roots on the surface of the soil. Do a search for “Root buttress” to see what I mean. Bonsai growers call this a Nebari. The fact that you can carefully move the delicate roots of seedings is one of the major benefits in starting bonsai trees off from seed – the roots are flexible enough at this time to move. With older trees, it is more difficult.

You can also lightly prune longer roots in order to encourage the tree to produce lots of smaller roots and not just long ones.

Wrap wire around the sapling

Bonsai trees tend to have curving movement and are generally not straight, although some are! The sapling is thin enough at this stage to wire the trunk. You would wrap wire around the trunk and gently bend it, so that it has a little movement. This can be done at any time of year. The wire needs to start on for around 6 months to a year. The tree will thicken as it grows, so don’t make the wire too tight and keep an eye on it to make sure that it doesn’t mark the trunk.

Prune the bonsai sapling back to encourage branches to grow.

Probably year 3. If you don’t prune the tree at all, it is going to grow straight upwards. Tree sapling at genetically programmed to do this, as in the wild, they would be in competition with other plants on the ground. For bonsai, we tend to want a nice canopy with little branches growing out sideways, as this creates the image of a large tree in our minds. The way to achieve this is to cut back the sapling, so that you encourage it to put out new growth where we want it.

Two more search terms for you “back budding” and “hard pruning”

Some trees respond better to pruning than others. Most deciduous trees back-bud really well. Lots of evergreens do not. Again, this is where horticultural knowledge kicks in. How well a species of tree back buds affects how you train it.

Planting the tree into a bonsai pot

At some point, you’ll want to plant the tree into an attractive bonsai pot. Newer bonsai people will want to do this quickly, more experienced growers may wait for years, or may well plant the trees into the ground / into larger tubs. Remember that when you keep the tree in a small pot, growth slows down. If you want thick trunks on your bonsai, this is done by allowing trees to grow for a number of years and then hard pruning the tree back, giving a thick trunk but on a small tree AND pruning the roots back, so that it will fit into a smaller pot.

Just remember that a stick in a pot will only ever look so good. There is nothing wrong with putting a sapling into a ceramic bonsai pot and that we’ve all done it. However if you want to make great bonsai from seeds, then growing them on first is really useful.

Other things to consider

You are going to want to fertilise your saplings to encourage lots of growth. I’m not going to cover this here.

Why start a few seeds off when you can start lots! Every time I have done a bonsai project, I always wish I had done more. Tree seeds are low cost so why not start a good number off.

Tree seedlings are fragile. In nature, it would be a numbers game with a mature tree producing hundreds or thousands of seeds per year. Seedlings will easily die if not kept watered.

Animals will eat your seeds! Squirrels keep nicking my acorns. Protect them.

Fungal infections can attack your seedling. Damp, warm soil is the perfect environment for fungal infections. Another search term for you is “Damping off seedlings.” Good air flow around your seedlings helps stop this, as does a fungicide spray, available from garden centres, DIY stores and online.


There we go! I think I’ve answered many of the questions that we get asked about how to grow bonsai trees from seed. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me. Oh and don’t forget that we sell all the pots, tools, wire and some of the other bits you’ll need, along with lots of lovely bonsai trees that have already had all of the above done for you!

How To Grow Bonsai Trees From Seed

It is good to know that you can actually grow bonsai trees from seeds. Although they grow very slowly from it, growing bonsai trees from seed can be beneficial because you may want to start from scratch, see the beauty of your bonsai tree while it grows, and ensure it is free from disease and pests.

You may need to wait several months for your seed to germinate depending on the species, and some finicky and slow-growing tree species may also need several seasons just to break their seed coats.

Although it may require so much time, the fruit of your hard work will be greatly rewarded. A bonsai tree that is grown from a seed and properly cared for over the years can be beautifully shaped, uniquely styled, and passed down from one generation to another.

In this tutorial, allow us to share with you comprehensive information about growing bonsai trees from seed. Here are the topics we will cover:

  1. How to Obtain Seeds
  2. Types of Seeds for Bonsai
  3. Preparation and Choosing the Best Soil
  4. Scarification and Stratification of Bonsai Seeds
  5. Post-Germination Care

1) How to Obtain 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. Tree seeds can be collected in your surroundings. You can also choose to purchase them in an actual gardening shop or online store. Remember that there’s no such thing as a special “bonsai tree seed” because a bonsai tree is created from a normal tree.

If you’ll collect tree seeds from local trees in your area, you can plant the tree seeds during autumn. However, if ever you want to plant tree seeds during springtime or any time out of the season, or if you are planning to grow seedlings from trees that are not growing based on your local climate, it may be necessary to do “stratification”.

Stratification refers to the process of treating tree seeds to mimic the natural winter conditions, endured by seeds prior to germination. For first-timers, this process might be quite complicated, so it’s advisable to choose a tree species that are suitable according to your climate, so you can simply plant it during autumn, like what the natural environment does!

Where to Obtain Tree Seeds

As previously mentioned, you can gather tree seeds from trees that are growing in your local area by autumn. Tree seeds such as acorns and chestnuts can be easily found in the forest. Tree seeds coming from conifers are found inside the pine cones. After collecting the pine cones, you need to store them in a warm place so they’ll release their seeds from and in between the scales. Seeds of different tree species are available in online bonsai stores.

Tips When Buying Tree Seeds Online

If there are no arborists’ brick and mortar shops available in your local area, you can go online. There are many tree seed dealers available online, and you may obtain a good price for high-quality seed. Don’t forget to do some research before buying. Choose sites with trusted and reliable sources that come with foolproof recommendations from online bonsai community forums or other bonsai experts in the field.

Whether you are buying from a brick and mortar store or online shop, it is important to only deal with a seller offering certified disease-free seeds. These tree seeds have been bred and specially treated to resist the common diseases by most bonsai species. This is highly beneficial when it comes to growing bonsai trees from seeds. Wild or untreated tree seeds succumb to damping off and are more susceptible to diseases just prior the seedlings are able to reach their first year.

When buying online, also bear in mind that there’s no such thing as bonsai seeds. Many misinformed and disreputable vendors will sell tree seeds that are labeled as “bonsai” for marketing purposes. It is best to avoid these seeds. Vendors who do not know enough information about the tree seeds they tend to defraud their customers just for a markup.

Where to Get Pine Seeds to Grow Bonsai Pine Trees

To start growing a bonsai pine tree from seed, you need to collect large slightly green or brown cones during fall. Choose cones that are closed because open cones mean that seeds were probably been released. Pine trees that have plenty of cones tend to have more viable seeds. Just lay the pine cones in a room temperature in open box. When they are dry, the pine cones will open and then will be releasing their seeds. You can place the box somewhere hot (between 104 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit) if they don’t open until they eventually do. You can use tweezers for removing any remaining seeds inside the pine cones.

To improve the odds of germination, you can stratify the seeds. To do this, you can mix them with a sand or moist peat, then put them in a clear plastic bag. Refrigerate for 3 to 7 weeks. If the tree seeds germinate while kept in the refrigerator, immediately sow them. Sow the tree seeds in 3-inch containers or pots, providing a bottom heat of around 60 degrees. You can transplant the seedlings outdoors into larger containers or pots during spring, 6 to 8 weeks after they germinate and when they are about 2 inches tall.

Read More: How To Care For A Sick Bonsai Tree

Tree seeds can be found in your local area. They are obtained in the fruits of trees, and tree parts like the pine cones.

2) Types of Seeds for Bonsai

When it comes to the bonsai species you are planning to grow, it’s entirely up to you. There are basic guidelines you can follow when choosing a bonsai seed. For you to obtain the best results, it is important to buy your bonsai seed from a trusted and reputable tree dealer or nursery. There are many tree species of beautiful bonsai. Fir, pine, maple, cedar, and birch are the most common tree species used for bonsai. Most of these tree species belonging in these genera are easy to cultivate.

The easiest tree species to grow from tree seeds are maple, scots pine, black pine, larch, and beech, which are great tree species for first-timers. If you’re a first-time horticulturist, you need to stay away from tree species such as needle juniper, white pine, or hornbeam because they’re more difficult to germinate.

Once you have decided on the best tree species you want to use for your bonsai, you can shop around and find suitable vendors. The ideal choice is dealing with an arborist with brick and mortar store with friendly and knowledgeable staff. While you’re shopping, you can easily get your questions answered by the experts.

The Two Most Popular Tree Species for BonsaiFicus BonsaiJuniper Bonsai
Deciduous Tree Species for Bonsai
Japanese Maple Bonsai (Acer Palmatum)Trident Maple Bonsai (Acer Buergerianum)Dwarf Pomegranate (Punica Granatum)
  • Chinese elm Bonsai or Ulmus Parviflora
  • Japanese elm
  • Zelkova Bonsai (Japanese Elm)
  • Hornbeam and Beech (Carpinus and Fagus)
  • Wisteria Bonsai
  • Magnolia Stellata Bonsai
  • Crabapple Bonsai (Malus)
  • Oak Bonsai (Quercus)
  • Celtis Bonsai (Hackberry)
  • Jacaranda Bonsai or Jacaranda mimosifolia
  • Chinese pepper Bonsai or Zanthoxylum
  • Ginkgo Bonsai or Ginkgo biloba
  • Adenium Bonsai or Desert rose
  • Japanese winterberry Bonsai or Ilex serrata

Broadleaf evergreens

  • Privet Bonsai (Ligustrum)
  • Snow rose Bonsai or Serissa foetida
  • Boxwood Bonsai or Buxus sempervirens
  • Olive Bonsai or Olea europaea
  • Fuchsia Bonsai
  • Ficus Bonsai
  • Jade Bonsai (Crassula)
  • Fukien tea Bonsai or Carmona retusa
  • Fig tree or Ficus Bonsai
  • Azalea Bonsai (Rhododendron)
  • Bird plum Bonsai or Sageretia theezans
  • Bougainvillea Bonsai
  • Cotoneaster Bonsai
  • Money tree Bonsai or Pachira aquatica
  • Gardenia Bonsai or Gardenia jasminoides
  • Crepe Myrtle Bonsai or Lagerstroemia indica
  • Brush Cherry Bonsai or Eugenia myrtifolia
  • Hawaiian Umbrella Bonsai or Schefflera
  • Brazilian rain tree or Pithecellobium
  • Japanese holly Bonsai or Ilex crenata
  • Citrus Bonsai (lemon or orange)
  • Premna Bonsai
Conifers and Pines
  • Juniper Bonsai or Juniperus
  • Spruce Bonsai or Picea
  • Yew Bonsai or Taxus
  • Buddhist Pine Bonsai or Podocarpus macrophyllus
  • Cedar Bonsai or Cedrus
  • Pine Bonsai or Pinus
  • Larch Bonsai or Larix
  • Coast/Dawn Redwood Bonsai or Sequoia
  • Bald Cypress Bonsai or Taxodium distichum

When choosing tree species to create a bonsai, it is important to consider several factors such as climate, outdoor or indoor bonsai growing skills, and your personal preference. It is best to choose a tree that can easily adapt to the type of environmental condition in your area.

3) Preparation and Choosing the Best Soil

Not all tree seeds are almost ready to sprout when they are placed into the soil. Many tree seeds species should be prepared carefully and stored before they’re ready to germinate or sprout. Before planting or even purchasing a tree seed, you need to do some research to familiarize yourself with its particular needs.

Basic Concepts of Stratification and Scarification

For instance, tree seed temperate species such as maples that need to undergo the process of cold stratification prior to germination. Cold stratification involves a cold state and moist period for tree species most especially during winter months. These tree seeds species fall off from the mother plant during fall. They tend to spend the freezing winter season on the ground.

A warmer weather during spring follows the cold winter period, triggering them to sprout or germinate. For germinating bonsai seeds that need cold stratification, you need to place the tree seed in a plastic bag that is filled with a potting soil which is kept moist. Place it in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator for several months so that the seed species will germinate. During spring, you can pot out the germinated seeds.

Other tree species such as eucalyptus can be scarified. The eucalyptus seeds are specifically and naturally designed to sprout or germinate only given under certain conditions. They have hard shells that should travel first travel through an animal’s digestive tract or should be subjected to fire prior to germination.

When you’re growing bonsai trees from seeds at home, bypassing these extreme measures is possible using simple scarification. This is done by simply filing gently through the seed’s hard coat until lighter coat is revealed underneath and germinate during spring.

Choosing the Best Soil

Most tree species such as maple and pine do very well in well-draining and organic commercial potting soil. Don’t ever use garden soil for your bonsai tree. Garden soil is too heavy for a bonsai pot and it is generally not sterilized. Your tree seed for making your bonsai may not be able to survive it.

Fill a bonsai pot with several drainage holes within 1/2-inch from its lip. You can place coffee filters too over the drainage holes if ever the soil crumbles out of them. Next, water the soil thoroughly and then allowing it to drain the excess water for 30 minutes.

Read More: How To Care and Techniques For Bonsai Trees

4) Scarification and Stratification of Bonsai Seeds

Stratification refers to the process of subjecting tree seeds to cold temperature, thus snapping them from the dormancy state. This is a process done in preparation to germinating a seed to create a bonsai tree.

There are many tree seeds that are genetically programmed in order to survive the cold winter months, and then when spring arrives they suddenly sense the change, thus starting to sprout into seedlings. Some tree seeds will never sprout until they are able to sense that cold and warm cycle. We can mimic that cycle artificially through stratification to break their dormancy. We will show you how successfully sprout your tree seeds through stratification.

Challenges Bonsai Cultivators Face on Tree Seeds

One fact about tree seeds is that they’re perfectly tuned to their environment where they were grown for many generations. It is a good thing and also a bad thing! If you’re going to grow trees living in a climate in winter, the tree seeds are also programmed to live through this very cold period, so they become dormant. They need to undergo the dormancy, otherwise, they won’t sprout. It only means that you need to mimic the cold season for the tree seed through stratification. The process may vary from one seed to another.

Step-by-Step Guide of a Typical Stratification Process

Step #1: The first step is soaking the tree seed in water in order to soften up the hard outer shell surrounding it.

Step #2: The next step is planting the tree seed in a soft bedding such as a peat moss.

Step #3: Adding water and placing the seeds in sealed and clean plastic bag come next.

Step #4: You can now place the bag in the refrigerator for a period of time. This is done to simulate the cold winter season.

Step #5: When the seeds have sprouted, remove them from the refrigerator, and plant them in the soil. Doing this will simulate the springtime.

Scarification refers to the soaking of the tree seeds in a room temperature water for a certain period of time. This is performed usually within 24 to 48 hours. Some tree seeds have very hard coatings or shells. You can actually file or scratch the hard shell with a pin or needle to further help in breaking the outer covering until the white layer is revealed.

Step-by-step Guide in the Process of Scarification

Step #1: Scarification – Soak the tree seeds in the water at room temperature within 48 hours at the maximum. This will soften up the outer shell of the tree seed in order to break through. Be sure to remove any tree seeds that float because they’re probably just empty shells, which means that there are not viable for sprouting or germination.

Step #2: Place it in a soft mixture. Remove and dispose of any floating seeds.

Step #3: Bag the seeds in a resealable bag. Next, water the peat moss so it remains moist but not too wet. Then place it in a resealable plastic bag.

Read More: How To Shape Your Bonsai Tree

Step #4: Place them in the refrigerator to mimic the cold season. The length of time required may vary from 1 to 6 months. Check on your seeds regularly. If any of the seeds have sprouted, you can simply take them out and then plant them immediately!

Step #5: It is time to show them in the soil.

Tips in Germinating a Tree Seed

Tip #1: Labeling your resealable plastic bags containing your seeds is with all the pertinent information is very important, most especially if you are germinating a lot of tree seeds. Make sure to label them at every step of the process. You can write how many seeds are planted in every little bag. If they’re going to be inside the refrigerator for a month or so, of course, you do not want to forget the day they went in ad their tree types. That is why you need to label the plastic bags with the entry date and tree species.

Tip #2: Plant plenty of tree seeds. This is done because you will never know how many seeds will actually germinate. Planting lots of them will help ensure you have germinated seeds. If ever you end up having too many seedlings,  you can just always cull the weaker ones away.

Tip #3: Checking your specific tree seed species and following the recommendations will help.

Tip #4: Be sure to check your seeds regularly, most especially while they are in the refrigerator. If some seeds have already sprouted, you take them out and immediately plant them.

Tip #5: Take note that once the tree seeds have germinated or sprouted, it means that they are good ones, and you can immediately sow them in the soil.

Stratification and Scarification Tree Seed Guide Chart

Type of Tree SeedStratificationScarificationPlanting
Japanese White Pinewarm stratification in moist peat moss within 60 dayswarm water within 24 hoursSow seeds in the soil ⅜ inch deep
Gray Bark Elmcold stratification within 60 dayswarm water within 24 hoursSow seeds in the soil ? inch deep
Japanese Firethorncold stratification within 30 dayswarm water within 24 hoursSow seeds in the soil ⅛ inch deep
Japanese White Birchcold stratification within 60 dayswarm water within 24 hoursSow seeds on the soil’s surface
Trident Maplecold stratification within 90 dayswarm water within 24 hoursSow tree seeds 1/4 inch deep
Japanese Maplewarm stratification within 120 days then cold stratification for another 120 daysHot tap water within 48 hoursSow tree seeds 3/8 inch deep
Nomura Red Maplewarm stratification within 60 days then cold stratification for another 60 daysHot tap water within 48 hoursSow tree seeds 1/8 inch deep
Japanese Larchcold stratification within 30 dayswarm water within 24 hoursSow tree seeds 1/16 inch deep
Japanese Hornbeamwarm stratification within 60 days then cold stratification for another 90 dayswarm water within 24 hoursSow tree seeds 1/8 inch deep
Japanese Heavenlynot neededwarm water within 24 hoursSow tree seeds 1/8 inch deep

Germinating tree seeds is very important and the methods used are stratification and scarification. These methods simulate the natural environment and climatic conditions needed to germinate tree seeds. Once you see the seeds sprout, it means that they are viable to create beautiful bonsai trees!

5) Post-Germination Care

The amount of your precious time you invest in your bonsai seedlings take to emerge from their tree seeds, depending on the species. While some tree seeds will germinate in only a few weeks, others will take months or several seasons. But once your bonsai seedlings successfully break from their seeds and develop two true leaves, then the leaves that will sprout after the first two immature leaves. You can reduce watering whenever the soil’s top third in the pot dries out.

Once the bonsai trees outgrow the seedling trays, you can pot them up into a larger container. Insert a pencil beneath the roots of your seedlings, pushing them up to be removed from the soil. Don’t pull them by their delicate stems.

Once the bonsai tree seedlings are planted in larger pots, you may start caring for them as you would normally do in any other bonsai tree. Move them to direct sunlight and make sure to water them regularly. Once your bonsai trees are 5 to 6 weeks, you may start a fertilization regimen.

Final Words

Now, you have just gained the right knowledge on growing a bonsai tree from seeds. We hope that you enjoyed this tutorial. If you do, please share it with your family and friends. You can also comment below and share your insights, suggestions, and your experiences in growing tree seeds and creating them as beautiful bonsai trees. Happy tree seed germinating and bonsai tree growing!

maple, sakura from seeds at home, cultivation and care technology

Many plants grow in our garden, some of them were even before the formation of the garden - old, perennial trees that simply remained on the site, a young garden, produced by our own efforts , as well as many flowers and plants of an industrial plan, berry bushes, root crops and so on. But, despite the abundance of beautiful and useful plants on the site, you always want something new, unusual.

Bonsai can become such a position in the garden - growing an exact copy of a tree, but only in miniature. Today we will look at how you can grow bonsai from seeds. The path is not easy and long, but it brings the desired result.

So, to begin with, a huge number of bonsai can be grown from seeds, but this will require patience, time and some costs, because some plants can take more than five years. As we said right away, the path is not easy and long enough, and only the most patient gardener will reach the end, who will get the desired result.


  • 1 Popular bonsai trees that can be grown from seeds
  • 2 Where to get maple and other tree seeds
  • 3 Store seeds or plant immediately
  • 4 How to germinate seeds, whether pre-treatment is needed
  • 5 How to grow bonsai (video)
  • 6 Seed planting, soil composition
  • 7 Seedling care

Popular Bonsai Trees You Can Grow From Seed

Almost every tree can be grown this way, but you also need to be aware of the popularity of one or another. So, for example, among the tropical ones, boxwoods, myrtle, abutilon, leptospermum, acacia, wisteria and, of course, ficus are considered the most popular. Broad-leaved trees include beeches, hornbeams, maples, birches, elms, Japanese beeches and pomegranates. Conifers include fir, cypress, spruce, cedar and pine.

Where to get seeds of maple and other trees

Bonsai seeds can be found in botanical gardens or even in public parks, where beautiful and often unique trees often grow. If you do not have such an opportunity, then you can always buy seeds for growing bonsai at home. This can be done through the network or in stores of live plants on the spot or on order. But do not be too deceived by the beautiful images on the packages of seeds that are sold, because what you buy is only planting material, from which the desired bonsai will be obtained only as a result of special efforts, knowledge and work.

Store seeds or plant immediately

Seeds of various plants may differ from each other not only in appearance and weight, but also in the type of seed box. In addition, for each individual variety, there is a specific sowing method that will allow the seeds to germinate correctly.

Seeds of spruce, pine, beech, oak, euonymus and fir are ready for sowing at the time of harvest. If they need to be planted at another time, then the seeds can always be saved by placing them in a cool place, after wrapping or placing them in some kind of container.

Seeds of other plants such as hawthorn, juniper, maple, hornbeam, quince require some dormancy and stratification. They must be kept in a cool place, previously placed in wet sand. The period of such a rest can have different periods, from six months to a year.

How to germinate seeds, whether pretreatment is needed

In order for the seeds to be ready for planting, they must be properly germinated and treated with drugs, otherwise problems such as the death of the seed due to certain diseases are possible. Before planting, the seeds are placed in water for several days to swell and begin the process of primary germination. It is also possible to germinate seeds in sphagnum moss or in vermiculite. In this case, it is desirable to break the hard shell of the seeds. This process provides the best germination. Further, in order to avoid the occurrence of plant diseases, the seeds should be treated with a fungicide, liquid or dry, and the soil must be sterilized.

How to grow a bonsai (video)

Planting a seed, soil composition

Prepared seeds are sown in spring, late summer or even autumn. Peat cups or pots pre-filled with a mixture of sand and peat in proportions of 1: 1 are excellent for planting. You can replace this composition with cactus soil purchased at the store, to which coarse-grained sand should be added. The soil mixture should not fill the container to the brim, it is required to leave about three centimeters to the top. Next, 1 centimeter of prepared, but already sifted soil. Next, the soil needs to be pressed down a little with a piece of wood and lay out the seeds. They are sprinkled with sand on top. The thickness of the last layer should be a maximum of two diameters of the seed to be planted. Again, press down with a piece of wood and pour a little water.

The seating container is covered with polyethylene or glass to create the effect of a greenhouse, and placed in a place away from sunlight and high temperature, which should not exceed +15 degrees Celsius.

The soil in the tank must be constantly moist, not dry out and not flooded with water.

Seedling care

At the moment when the first sprouts from the seeds are noticed, it is necessary to ensure the supply of fresh air to the container. This can be achieved by placing a small piece of wood under the glass or by making several small holes in the plastic film. When the first leaves appear, the seedlings can be fully opened.

At the age of one to three months, the formation of seedlings is necessary. The taproot is cut off (when picking), by about 2/3. There is a possibility that the seedling will have to be re-rooted. In this case, you will need to use a drug that stimulates root formation, such as a special hormone.

Seedlings need to be fertilized. It is advisable to do this in early summer, adding fertilizer to the soil in small portions. When the plant reaches a height of 10 centimeters, it must be transplanted into an ordinary flower pot. The plant can begin to accustom to the sun's rays. Do not forget that the plant requires constant formation, only then it will turn out to be the plant that you dreamed of, truly decorative and beautiful. Depending on the type of bonsai, its formation can be done at the age of several years.

How to grow bonsai at home

Bonsai is the ancient Oriental art of growing trees in miniature, the main goals of which are maximum realism and similarity with prototypes. Many people think that doing this art is too difficult. But this is far from true. Of course, to get a beautiful bonsai tree, you need to make some efforts and strictly adhere to certain rules, but you will not need special gardening skills. You can also always buy a ready-made tree. In our catalog you will find a lot of indoor plants and flowers in Uzhgorod and other cities of Ukraine.

Which plants are suitable for bonsai

In fact, bonsai can be formed from any tree species that are not naturally prone to intensive growth, but the fact is that not all plants can withstand such frequent pruning. So, before you buy a tree, find out how whimsical it is, and whether your microclimate is suitable for this species. So, if you consider yourself a “teapot” among plant growers, we recommend stopping at the Chinese juniper. This woody plant of the cypress family takes root well in our natural conditions and reacts positively to pruning. The next undemanding species, which also has beautiful foliage and even bark, is the common hornbeam. Also pay attention to the Japanese maple, hawthorn and decorative apple tree. But certain types of trees with large leaves are best avoided, with those you will have to get confused. The most win-win solution is to grow bonsai from local tree species that are inherent in your natural area and climate type.

How to grow bonsai

There are several ways to create a bonsai composition. And the first thing you need to buy the source. If you are not in a hurry and ready for a slow but productive process, then choose young trees - you can easily create bonsai from them in your own unique style.

Growing bonsai from cuttings

If you are going to grow a floral masterpiece from cuttings, you will need to prepare for a long and painstaking process. For those who are not in the know, cuttings are nothing more than small pieces of twigs cut off from the mother plant. A very important point is which donor tree the cutting is taken from. The plant must certainly be healthy and preferably annual. At the same time, the length of the cutting should not exceed ten centimeters, and the number of leaves on it should not exceed five to eight.

Cut cuttings are devoid of roots, and they take root by planting in the ground. The best periods for cutting conifers are considered to be the middle of spring or the very beginning of autumn. And for hardwoods, it's always June. The most successful containers for planting bonsai are plastic mini-vessels.

In order for the cuttings to take root quickly, they can be additionally treated with a growth stimulator solution before planting. All stimulants are created on the basis of hormones, so the result will certainly be positive. Moreover, deciduous trees take root much faster - in just a couple of weeks. But the rooting of conifers can take a year or even more.

So, take your container, fill it ⅔ full with sand and peat mixed together, and start planting. In this case, the distance between the cuttings should be the same. Now you can pour the seedlings with water and wrap the container with a transparent film. Put the greenhouse in the shade and do not forget to check every day whether there is enough moisture in the soil.

A sign that the cutting has begun to take root will be the appearance of the first young leaves on the shoot. At this moment, it is already possible to slightly open the film so that the future tree slowly hardens and begins to get used to the general environment. After a couple of months, such shoots become suitable for transplanting into separate containers. The best substrate for cuttings is loose earth mixed with clay.

In the first year of life, the stalk does not need to be fed - in fresh soil, and so there will be enough useful minerals and trace elements. And in order for the shoots to survive the first winter, they need to build a shelter. To do this, take containers with seedlings, dig them a little into the ground and cover with a lid or a dense film that will not let the wind through.

It should be noted that not all tree species can be grown by cuttings. These include cedar and pine. But among the most “fast” in terms of growth, elms stand out (in particular, dwarf elm), as well as privet, maple and barberry.

Growing bonsai from seeds

Be prepared for the process of growing bonsai from seeds to be very long. So, it will take you no less than 10-15 years to form a mini tree. All those plants in pots that you can find on the shelves in specialized stores are just about that age. Why does seed growing take such a long time? Let's figure it out further.

The fact is that in order to obtain a certain form from certain types of trees, you need to start striving for this almost from the first minutes of the plant's life. This primarily applies to all types of elms. The only way to transform an elm tree into its signature vertical style is to remove some of the roots in the first year of its growth. Then you just have to regularly trim its shoots on the sides.

If done correctly, by the twentieth year of life it will be clearly seen that the bonsai is grown from seed and has been shaped as such from the very beginning of life. This is determined by the appearance of that part of the root system that is above the soil surface. Thus, the roots of a properly grown bonsai are like equidistant rays of stars that extend from a perfectly shaped trunk. At the same time, the ratio of the size of the crown of a tree and the height of its trunk is proportional. It is impossible to achieve such subtleties by cuttings.

By the way, if you grow bonsai from conifer, don't be afraid to experiment and try to bend its branches into curls. So you can create your own unique fantasy composition. To create another interesting effect, you will need a wire: lay it on the bark and wait until it grows a little into its top layer. Over time, the resulting line will resemble a scar, as if it were a healed wound on the human body. On a rough bark, such scars look especially impressive.

Black pine stems grown from seed are very good at curling. From this tree, the wire can be removed already three years after installation - the bonsai will just have time to get used to its new shape, and its bark will not suffer from this manipulation. Moreover, if desired, the wire can be fixed and re-fixed.

Any intrusion into the trunks and branches of the bonsai is not allowed even after the plant has reached the age of 45. The fact is that over time, the bark begins to coarsen and the “wounds” from the wire simply will not “heal”.

And now back to the question - where to get the seeds for growing bonsai? The easiest way to get them is to buy them in the store. But you can collect the seeds yourself just during an autumn walk through the forest or botanical garden. Do not pass by plantations of hazel, juniper, blackthorn - the seeds of these tree varieties have a hard shell and are easy to grow. To do this, take a container with wet sand, put the seeds, and sprinkle another layer of sand on top. Cover the seedlings with foil, put in a place without drafts and without direct sunlight, leaving the container there for the winter. Periodically moisten the soil with a spray bottle and do not allow it to dry out. This method is called freezing: winter frosts have a devastating effect on the seed coat, which causes cracks to appear on it, from where spring sprouts then sprout.

As a rule, not every seed can sprout, and this is quite normal. Do not throw away unsprouted seeds, they can still sprout for the next season. If the winters in your area of ​​​​residence are more like a long autumn, you can use the freezer to freeze.

As for the soft-shelled seeds, they can be planted in the ground as soon as they have been harvested. Maple seeds germinate the fastest. The only feature is that the container with maple seedlings needs to organize diffused light. In warm winter, the first sprouts will appear without even waiting for spring.

Maintenance and care of bonsai

In order for your bonsai creation to grow and develop, it must be properly and regularly maintained. However, do not forget that each tree species has its own special requirements. Earlier we already figured out what cyclamen care is, and now we will dwell in more detail on the rules for caring for bonsai.

Bonsai space

To begin with, it is worth understanding that some types of bonsai require outdoor cultivation, and some can only grow indoors. So, street bonsai cannot be placed in the house, and home bonsai cannot be transferred to fresh air. Be sure to check this point before buying, so as not to accidentally harm the plant.

Seedlings from the subtropics will do best in places where there is a lot of light and high temperatures. You can put such bonsai in open space only if you live in the southern latitudes and are sure that there will be no sudden cold snaps. But it is better not to take risks and put a pot with a tree in a warm room. For outdoor bonsai varieties, even if you grow a representative of the local flora, one way or another, you will need to create a shelter for the cold season.

Soil and irrigation

The frequency and volume of watering a seedling is influenced by a whole range of factors. And this is not only the type of tree, but also the size of the container in which you grow it, and the composition of the substrate, as well as the type of climate and environmental conditions. In any case, an excess of moisture will lead to the development of root rot, which can cause the death of the tree. And the lack of moisture will not bring benefits. Moreover, bonsai trees are always planted in small pots, which is why the soil in them dries out pretty quickly. Therefore, check daily that the substrate is sufficiently and, most importantly, evenly moistened.

The soil for bonsai must be fertile, rich in nutrients. Gardeners recommend repotting bonsai once every two years. It is in a couple of years that the root system of a tree can grow quite strongly and compact the soil, preventing it from being properly saturated with water, which is so necessary for the plant.

Top dressing

Top dressing is an important aspect of the Bonsai care process. Of course, the type of soil plays an important role, but since trees are always grown in containers with limited space, fertilization is mandatory for normal growth and development of the crop. It is best to add top dressing to the soil during the growing season, that is, exactly when the plant forms its immune system. However, first of all, you need to focus on the needs of your particular bonsai variety. The form of release of dressings (dry or liquid) does not matter.

Methods of forming bonsai

The art of bonsai involves not only growing a tree, but also its formation or, in other words, transformation. This process is both creative and painstaking. It took Eastern craftsmen more than one hundred years to bring the methods of bonsai formation to perfection. But now everyone can master the subtleties of trimming and shaping bonsai with wire. The main thing is not to rush, because the miniaturization of trees is a leisurely journey that should be enjoyed every day.

Bonsai Pruning

Pruning is considered a very important method of keeping bonsai neat and tidy and maintaining the tree's original appearance in the wild. The best periods for pruning bonsai are considered the spring and summer seasons. Get ready for the fact that in order to work with thick branches you will need to acquire special gardening tools. And it is better if it is not a pruner, but concave scissors - the cuts obtained after them grow somewhat faster and more painlessly for the plant.

To understand which branches should be cut and which should be left, it is desirable, of course, to see the tree live. However, there are certain points that will become signals that you definitely cannot do without pruning. For example:

  • if two branches on your bonsai grow at the same level, then one of them must be pruned;
  • you need to get rid of all branches with too strong bends;
  • too thick branches in the upper part of the crown always look cumbersome and also not needed.

Shaping bonsai with wire

We have already mentioned above that you can give the desired shape to bonsai using ordinary wire - gently bending and unbending branches with an ingrown metal tape. The main thing is not to overdo it and remove the wire in a timely manner with wire cutters until the branches begin to coarsen and thicken.

Moreover, on trees with smooth bark, the wire should remain for a slightly shorter period than on trees with rough trunks. This is due to the fact that on a smooth surface the marks will remain more distinct and not always aesthetic. It is allowed to fix the wire in any season of the year.

Artificial aging of bonsai

Artificial aging of a young tree is a very popular method of shaping bonsai. Miniature old-timers always look very unusual. Coniferous species are most easily amenable to artificial aging, but in the case of deciduous, everything will also work out.

So, in order to age the plant, you will need wire cutters or a sharp knife.

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