Growing Bonsai From Seed

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Page 2 of 2

SOWING SEED, SOIL MIXES AND GERMINATION TEMPERATURES

Seed that has been artificially stratified or seed that is being sown outside in Autumn is best planted into a seed tray or a pot where watering and placement can be controlled more easily than if planted straight into the ground. Use a fast draining mix of organic soil, a 1:1 mix of multi-purpose compost and sand is ideal though their are also many ready-mixed seed composts available at garden centres.
Fill the seed container 1/2 to 2/3 full of compost, press it down lightly then distribute the seed evenly across the surface. Next, cover the seed with another layer of seed compost 2-3 times the thickness of the seed. Finally, cover the surface of the compost with a very thin layer of grit or sharp sand to keep the seed weighted down. Keep the compost moist at all times but never soaking wet; water very gently to avoid disturbing the soil surface and the seed.

The seed tray can either be placed outside to germinate naturally, or for seeds that are being germinated out of season or in unfavourable climates, the seed tray can be placed indoors or in a greenhouse on a window-sill that receives only a little direct sunlight.

For germination, most seeds need temperatures of between 10-15°C. Seeds from subtropical climates need temperatures between 13-18°C and seeds from tropical species require temperatures between 19-24°C.


AFTER GERMINATION

At first the seedlings will display two small immature leaves called cotyledons, these will nurture the seedling until it produces its first 'true' leaves at which point the seedlings can be pricked out and planted into individual pots still using a seed compost. The compost should be kept damp at all times but never allow to become too sodden as this can result in loss of the seedlings.
Do not start to feed the seedlings until 5 or 6 weeks after pricking out and fertilise very gently as the immature root system will burn very easily.

As the seedlings continue to grow into saplings they can continue to be potted on until they are large enough to be grown in the ground or used immediately for bonsai training.

Growing Bonsai From Seed Guest article by Xavier De Lapeyre