Why grow bonsai trees from seed?
"Misho" is the Japanese term for bonsai trees grown from seed. Misho refers to planting tree seeds and cultivating them. This way of tree cultivation is suitable for beginners and similar to any other kind of gardening from seed.
Growing your own bonsai tree from seed is a very rewarding experience and gives you full control over the style of your tree from the beginning of its existence. It is also an incredible feeling to be able to say, "I grew this bonsai from seeds myself!" and an economical way to enter the hobby.
Beginners and experts alike grow bonsai trees from seed and, with a little bit of patience and time, you can too.
What you need to get started
We recommend using a high quality bonsai soil to plant the seeds in. This will ensure good drainage and encourage proper root growth.
Bonsai pot or well-draining plant container
A container with ample draining holes or a proper bonsai pot is ideal for tree seedlings. Place a piece of bonsai pot mesh over the holes in the bottom of the pot to prevent soil loss.
You will need a handful of at least 3-5 tree seeds to sow to ensure at least one germinates. There is technically no such thing as “bonsai seeds” since bonsai are created from normal trees. However, if you prefer uncommon, non-local or traditional species for your bonsai tree you can purchase them from specialty stores or online.
How to plant and care for your seeds
- Research if your tree seeds require scarification (scarring thick coated seeds on a file or sandpaper) or stratification (simulating a cold or winter season by placing seeds in a refrigerator). This mostly depends on the tree species you select to grow. We provide specific bonsai seed growing instructions with every variety sold so ensure to check these first.
- Prepare your plant container by spreading a good bed of bonsai soil at least two inches deep. Place a piece of bonsai pot mesh over the holes in the bottom to prevent soil loss.
- Thoroughly water soil generously with water (over a kitchen sink is best) until it drains out of the pot.
- Sow seeds according to planting directions with at least 2" space between each seed.
- Place your container in a warm, sunny place. During the summer you can place your seeds outside. If you can't place your seeds outside or it isn't warm enough outside, you can germinate the seeds inside and place a warming pad underneath your container. Most seeds like to germinate a bit above a comfortable room temperature and this will ensure they meet this requirement.
- Water generously and mist daily until seeds germinate and sprout. After your seedlings appear, continue to water regularly to ensure the bonsai soil stays lightly moist.
We recommend waiting until your seedling has approximately 2 sets of leaves. When a seed sprouts, the first set of leaves that unfold are called cotyledons. All the food that's needed to sustain these first leaves is contained right inside the seed. But once the second set of "true" leaves appear, you should begin feeding your seedlings with a very small amount of fertilizer (a small sprinkle of granules).
After about one year you can plant your seedlings into larger pots to encourage faster growth. When repotting, continue to use bonsai soil to encourage healthy root development and proper drainage. It will take approximately three years for your seedling to become ready for training and styling.
Photo credit of tree above: Ted