Picked up some seeds

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Picked up some seeds

Post  thebbqguy on Tue Sep 29, 2015 1:49 am

I know it is not really a great idea to grow trees from seed when its easier to propagate them in most cases, but I bought some seeds as a project this winter and a learning experience.

I picked up the following:

Ficus religiosa
Ailanthus altissima
Ficus racemosa
Ficus benjamina
Cupressus macrocarpa
Malus baccata
Carpinus betulus

thebbqguy
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Re: Picked up some seeds

Post  Leo Schordje on Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:03 am

Raising trees from seed is a background activity for the bonsai hobby, it is a nurseryman's activity. It doesn't "look like bonsai", it looks like nursery work. All our bonsai at some point started life as seed. But seedlings will usually not be considered bonsai, until they have had a number of years to grow, sometimes quite a number of years. However, everybody that acquires trees, one way or another they came from seed at some point.

There is a real need for trees raised from seed trained with bonsai in mind, this is a very valuable activity to the bonsai hobby. Don't get discouraged by the "slow" results. If you are starting seed, and you are over 25, chances are by the time the trees become exhibition grade bonsai, you will be long gone and the trees will have moved through many sets of hands. But that is ok, I start seedling myself, fully intending that I will not be the one to "finish" these trees, they are for the future, and not necessarily my future.

Besides it is fun, at least for me, to see a batch of seedlings sprout, grow and begin to develop. I get most bored with the time period between 2nd year and 5th year for most seedlings. Not much to do but keep it growing.

If you are trying to create shohin, or small sized bonsai - in less than 10 years often you can have a pleasing looking little tree that looks good in a bonsai pot. Larger sized bonsai do take more time, sometimes considerably more time.

Some hints to help with germinating your seeds below.

Store seed cool and dry until you are ready to begin, I keep mine in a small cardboard box in the refrigerate. Key is to keep it dry. When ready to start, soak seed in water 24 to 48 hours, then either plant in seed flats, or put in containers or plastic bags for the stratification process. I like using plastic bags with sphagnum moss.

"thebbqguy"...... picked up the following:

Stratification is putting moist seed in either a pot, or a plastic bag or container, with moist media (moss, perlite, soil, damp paper towels, many things work) and either putting it in a refrigerator for cold between 33 F and 40 F for a given period of time, or putting it outside or in an unheated garage or cold frame to experience the temperatures of winter. Warm stratification the seed is held at temperatures above 18 C or 65 F for a given period of time.

Ficus religiosa - seeds will need to be warm, above 75 F or above 25 C to germinate. This species has large leaves, that while they can be reduced dramatically, will still be somewhat large, so it is best for larger size bonsai, over 2 feet or over 60 cm.

Ailanthus altissima - better germination if given 90 days of cold stratification. Can be stratified outdoors, sub-freezing temperatures won't harm seed. In the USA this is considered an invasive species, don't plant them in the ground, keep them containerized to avoid "escapees". Capable of very rapid growth, long compound leaves are difficult to use in "traditional" bonsai styles, but if you think of each compound leaf as representing an entire branch or foliage pad, it may be possible to make them into a convincing bonsai.  

Ficus racemosa - seeds will need to be warm, above 75 F or above 25 C to germinate. I am not familiar with the leaf size of this species.

Ficus benjamina - seeds will need to be warm, above 75 F or above 25 C to germinate. Excellent species for tropical & indoor bonsai. Also Ficus retusa is another good ficus species to use.

Cupressus macrocarpa - I am not familiar with needs, my guess would be could get some germination shortly after planting. A 60 to 90 day cold stratification above 32 F below 40 F will likely give more uniform germination. These will make beautiful bonsai, they are not very cold hardy, depending on geographic (ecotype) source of seed may only be winter hardy to USA zone 8. Some ecotypes are hardy to USA zone 7.

Malus baccata - needs a cold stratification of at least 90 to 120 days. Can be "stratified" outdoors, sub-freezing temperatures won't harm seed. Winter hardy across most of the USA. They will not flower or fruit for a fair number of years, but once they do, they will do so every year there after. Often one or two decades to first flowering.

Carpinus betulus - usually germinates best with a 60 day warm stratification followed by a 90 day cold stratification. If only a cold stratification is done, some will not germinate until the following year. Don't repot the seedlings until after spring of the second year so that you don't loose the second year seedlings. Can be stratified outdoors, sub-freezing temperatures won't harm seed. Make wonderful winter hardy bonsai.

While you are at it, pick up some Japanese Black Pine seed, they germinate rather easily, and are fun to grow. All the 2 needle pines and most of the 3 needle pines are easy from seed, stratification if optional, though better germination is usually had with at least a 30 day cold stratification. I just noticed you are in Michigan, Scotts pine and Jack pine are winter hardy in your area, see if you can find seed of either. My favorite seed source is Sheffield's Seed company, but there are many other sources, and internet search will turn up dozens.

Have fun.

Leo Schordje
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Re: Picked up some seeds

Post  Andre Beaurain on Tue Sep 29, 2015 12:49 pm

Well there you have it!

I also think raising trees from seed is the most satisfying.

Love and Light

Andre Beaurain
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Re: Picked up some seeds

Post  thebbqguy on Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:51 pm

Thank you so much Leo. This is very helpful. I really appreciate the thoughtful reply.

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Re: Picked up some seeds

Post  LanceMac10 on Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:43 pm

It would seem Leo just puts the keyboard on his forehead and the computer types everything for him!!

I would have forgot what I was gonna' say halfway in..... drunken


Did you know Leo has Keebler Orchid Elves in his cellar??
Maybe they type his stuff for him...... affraid

Always a great read!!

lol!

LanceMac10
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Re: Picked up some seeds

Post  Leo Schordje on Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:01 pm

I was typing to avoid cleaning the basement. Laughing
I'm still avoiding cleaning the basement.
Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow. Who knows, maybe elves will do it for me?

Leo Schordje
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Re: Picked up some seeds

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