Bonsai is a Japanese tradition that involves planting trees in small trays in such a way that they maintain their real-life qualities. Bonsai trees are propagated in different ways, with the seed and cuttings being the most popular. However, among these two methods, propagation by seed is the most controversial because of the loads of activities that are involved.
One of the controversies that often emanates from Bonsai propagation by seed is whether or not the seed expires because they are usually kept in stores for a long time before they are purchased. Therefore, it is not unusual to see people ask questions like, do Bonsai seeds expire? Do you have to soak Bonsai seeds? These and other related questions will be treated in this overview, as well as useful tips on how to germinate Bonsai seeds. Keep reading for details.
What are Bonsai seeds
Bonsai seeds are seeds from plants that are planted and germinate into a miniaturized tree. However, with that being said, you must know that in reality, Bonsai seed is nonexistent as the seed actually belongs originally to a plant. If the seed (Bonsai seed) is grown without Bonsai treatment, it will germinate into normal trees.
Where do Bonsai seeds come from
Bonsai seeds come from landscape trees growing naturally in the wild, or planted for aesthetic or commercial purposes. If you intend to practice Bonsai tradition, you may get them directly from the source (normal tree) or garden stores.
What do Bonsai seeds look like
The seeds of different Bonsai trees differ from species to species. While the Japanese maple can be uniquely identified with its boomerang shape as a result of its conjoined seeds, the case is different from the Chinese elm. Chinese elm can be easily identified with their green leafy coin-sized seeds. You can find more information about the description of each Bonsai seed online.
How to tell if Bonsai seeds are good
You can test the viability of your Bonsai tree by pouring them into a cup or a bowl and leaving them to soak for about 5 to 6 hours after which some of them will be afloat while some will stay submerged. The seeds underneath the water are good ones, while those afloat are the bad ones.
Another way of distinguishing good seeds from bad ones is by planting the seeds. If after a few days, some germinate while some stay buried, the ones with new sprouts are good while the ones that remain buried are dead.
Note that when using this method, use it for seeds that belong to the same species because the germination periods for each tree differ from species to species. While it can take some species 15 days to germinate, it can take up to 40 days or more.
How long do Bonsai tree seeds last
How last a Bonsai tree seed can last depend on 2 things: the seed species and the storage method.
1. Storage method
You may be wondering how storage may affect seeds but it actually plays a major role. If you properly store your Bonsai seed, it can extend its life span depending on the method. The method utilized in preserving your seed goes a long way in how long it can stay remain active. For example, if you store your seeds in the refrigerator, it will last longer than leaving them just laying on your desk.
2. Tree species
Another key factor is the species of the tree from where you got the seed. The shelf life its lifespan of a seed differs from species to species. While the seed of some species like the Japanese Black pine, Jack pine, and Scotts pine can last for a period of between 5 to 10 years, some would last for shorter or longer years.
The aforementioned can serve as an indicator as to whether Bonsai seed can expire or not.
How long does it take for Bonsai seeds to sprout
How long it will take a Bonsai seed to sprout differ from species to species so you might have to make research on the type of Bonsai seed you have. However, in general, it should take a Bonsai seed about a month or a few weeks to germinate. Although some may take several seasons.
How long does it take to grow a Bonsai tree from seed
If you are starting your Bonsai from seed, you must have one thing — patience. Patience is a key factor in growing a Bonsai from seed because it will take the seed from 10 to 15 years to reach the maturity stage. Also, you should know that this depends on how you can keep up with the care requirement of the tree, and the Bonsai species you intend to keep.
How to germinate Bonsai seeds
A lot of activities are involved in stating a Bonsai from seed and as a potential horticulturist, you need to exercise patience if you want to record success at each stage. Below is carefully explained, the various process involved in starting Bonsai from seed.
1. Pre-planting stage
Before hunting for Bonsai seeds, you need to know that not all seeds that are on sale or collected directly from the tree are immediately ready to be planted. Most of the will require that you carefully prepare and store them before they can be ready for germination. The preparation for Bonsai seeds differs from one to another, so you should do your research before planting the seed. It is either they go through cold stratification or warm stratification.
If your seed is to be cold stratified, fill a plastic bag with moisturized potting soil and put the seeds in it. Take the plastic bag to your refrigerator and put it in the vegetable crisper for a few months to get the seeds ready for germination.
Other seed species like the Eucalyptus can be scarified. These seed species are naturally meant to germinate under certain conditions. This condition involves putting their hard shells in the animal’s digestive tract or putting them through the fire before they can germinate.
If you are growing the seed by yourself at home you can boycott this rigorous measure by utilizing scarification. This process may require that you file through the hard shell of the seed until the lighter shells or coat underneath becomes visible.
2. Soil selection
To plant your Bonsai seed, you will need organic commercial potting and well-draining soil. Do not make use of garden soil because they are not sterilized and is too heavy for Bonsai seed.
Make several damaged holes in your Bonsai pot. These holes should be at least half an inch deep from their lips. If the planting soil will crumble out of the hole, you can place coffee filters over them. Water the soil and leave it to drain for 30 minutes.
Do Bonsai seeds need light to germinate
Yes, Bonsai seed will need sunlight to germinate. Most Bonsai seeds require almost all attention that you would give to Bonsai propagated by trees. Depending on the seed species, you may need to expose the seed to direct or indirect sunlight for photosynthesis.
Do you have to soak Bonsai seed
Yes, you have to soak your Bonsai seed. It is the norm in Bonsai tradition to soak Bonsai seeds in water for at least 5 to 6 hours before placing them in a plastic bag to test their chances of germinating. After putting them in water for the suggested hours, any seed found afloat is considered dead (not eligible for planting) while anyone that sinks is considered alive and eligible for planting.
Why do you need to put Bonsai in the fridge
It is important to put Bonsai seeds in the fridge to create a winter condition for them. It is the treatment method often given to seeds from temperate regions so that they can germinate. This method ensures that seeds do not germinate and enter winter at the same time.
How deep do you plant Bonsai seed
The seed species also plays a significant role in determining how deep they can be planted into the soil. Check below for details.
- Japanese white pine – 3/8 inch deep
- Japanese forethorn – 1/8 inch deep
- Japanese white birch – best sowed on the soil surface.
- Trident Maple – 1/4 inch deep
- Japanese Maple – 3/8 inch deep.
- Nomura Red Maple – 1/8 inch deep.
- Japanese Larch – 1/18 inch deep.
- Japanese Hornbeam – 1/8 inch deep.
- Japanese Heavenly – 1/8 inch deep
What time of the year to plant Bonsai seed
The best time to sow Bonsai seeds is during Autumn. This will allow the seed to align with nature’s timing and ensure that the seed experiences full summer to grow after it has germinated during spring. When you do this stratification will become unnecessary.
Do Bonsai seeds need water
Yes, you need to provide your seed with water before they can germinate. Water the seed and ensure that the compost is wet, however, you must keep it from getting soggy by creating an avenue for excess water to drain off. If the seeds are small, put them on the soil surface. And if they are large, push them into the compost.
How often to water Bonsai seeds
The water requirement for each Bonsai seed species differs from one another. For example, the wisteria bonsai requires a lot of water, especially during its growing stage, and must stay moist most of the time.
For your Bonsai seed to survive, you must always monitor the moisture level every day and water as required at least once a day to keep the soil from completely drying out. However, you should remember that the goal is to keep the soil moisturized and not soggy. The seeds will rot and die once exposed to excess water.