Bonsai Tree Starter Kit

Bonsai Tree Starter Kit
Authored By Jessica Petretti

Lost your instruction manual? Reach out to us on the contact form and we will send you a new set!!

Growing bonsai trees from seeds is a tradition which spans many years of trial and error. Its one that requires patience, but can be really rewarding with time. Over the years, different growers have used varying techniques to get results. While one technique is not any better than the other, its worth trying all of them your first time to help maximize your chance of success. 

Our included instruction guide & web guide are average baseline times for germination and for transporting outdoors but the times can easily double in different areas of the country and with different environmental conditions. Observe your work daily to help determine the best times for your area and conditions. 

The Total Garden Starter kit provide extra seeds so that if you fail the first time or want to sow seeds in a second or third container, your kit provides the extra value. 

 

INTRODUCING COCO COIR

One of the big reasons why our kits provide good results is because we use a superior growing medium called Coco Coir, which is made from coconut husk.

There are many advantages to using Coco Coir over regular peat moss pellets – for a start, Coco Coir holds more water and expands to fill the whole pot while promoting good drainage and aeration. These attributes are perfect for new gardeners who may miss the occasional day of watering.

Coco Coir is also a better growth agent as its neutral pH levels, and rich bio-stimulants are a lot friendlier for plants than the often acidic peat moss. 

Each tree seed requires slightly different methods to get them started. The instruction guide provides the basic instructions to get you started but we have also written this article to give you a lot more detail. 

 

ALL NATURAL OMRI CERTIFIED JIFFY POTS

In a world of copycats, our kits provide full size 4 1/2” genuine Jiffy Pots. They provide the perfect environment for plants to thrive. Whether you want to start indoors, in the earth, or in a container without disturbing young roots – Jiffy Pots make everything so much easier. Every pot has holes in the bottom to promote drainage and strong root development. Jiffy Pots are natural seed starter pots and are OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) Certified.

  

TEMPERATURE FOR SEED GERMINATION

65F to 75F is the perfect range. Your seeds can germinate at a lower or higher temperature than this, but this usually slows the germination process down. Once your seeds have germinated 60F to 70F degrees is the ideal temperature range for growing them quickest. They will grow in slightly cooler or warmer temperatures but this will likely effect the time it takes for the seedlings to grow into plants ready to transplant outdoors.

 

HOW DEEP SHOULD I PLANT MY SEEDS?

The depth you plant your seeds is important. Each seed has a optimum depth which is included in the instruction guide. Remember, for the smaller seeds, barely cover them with a fine layer of the coir soil.

 

HOW MUCH MOISTURE WHEN STARTING MY SEEDS AND SEEDLINGS?

Keeping seeds moist once germination has started is of the utmost importance. If the seed dries out it will likely kill the embryos. Seeds need as much as 50% of their weight to germinate. To achieve this you need to make sure the soil does not dry out. While coir soil has excellent moisture retention if you let the soil dry out for a few days it will likely kill the chances of successful germination.

 

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WATER MY BONSAI TREES?

Watering your Bonsai trees depends on too many factors to provide an exact guideline. Each tree requires careful observation. Watering should be based on room conditions like temperature and the amount of water you added in the last watering. 

The following general guidelines will help you to get Bonsai watering right:

    1. When watering, take care not to use a stream of water that is too strong. If the stream is too strong it will likely displaces your seeds or seedlings. Use a gentle stream of water to keep seeds and seedlings in place. When the seeds become seedlings do not pour water directly on them. Water around them to ensure you do not kill them. You should water it when it feels slightly dry; use your fingers to check the soil about 1/2" deep. Don't let the seedlings & tree dry out completely!
    2. Keep observing your trees individually, don't water them on a daily routine, until you can accurately judge the moisture of the soil with your fingers. 

 

WHAT DO I DO IF MOLD OR WHITE FUZZY STUFF DEVELOPS ON MY POTS OR IN THE SOIL?

When you starting seeds in biodegradable paper pots from Jiffy the pots or soil might develop fuzzy white growth. This is normally called mold. The scientific term for it is mycelium. It is pretty much harmless in small doses but can be dangerous to your seedlings if it spreads over too large an area. It normally happens when the soil and biodegradable pots are too wet and their is not enough air circulation. To ensure your pots and soil do not develop the mold be careful not to over water and leave enough room in between the pots for good air circulation. If you place the pots on a windowsill, just open the window. If you start them on a table place a small fan near the pots to help move the air around them. If you let the mold get out of control and it spreads, sprinkle cinnamon on it or water it with chamomile tea to stop it in its tracks.

 

THE SILVER WATTLE

Before you can germinate the Silver Wattle, you need to go through a process called Scarification. 

Some growers have used warm water as the starting point and others have used boiling water to start. The debate over the exact temperature of warm is one reason some are successful and others are not. The hardness of the shell is also a factor in this. Some seed shells are harder than others because the seeds are older. Boiling water sometimes destroys younger seeds because the shells are not hard enough so warm water is better for those while in the case of older seeds boiling water is better to break the seed coat. If the water is not warm enough the shell coating will remain closed and you won't get any germination. Because we want to give you the best chance of success, we recommend you try both warm and boiling water. The goal here is to give you the best chance of growing your bonsai trees. 

  1. Place a few seeds in a cup of warm water. 
  2. Leave to soak overnight. This softens the hard coating and the seed absorbs water and swells. Even if the seeds swell, this means they are taking up water but they still could be empty shells. Its impossible to know this until you plant the seeds and see nothing sprout. 
  3. When they are left long enough, some of the seed will swell to nearly double  or triple the size. Transfer the swollen seeds to the coir soil in the pot for sowing. 
  4. Some of the seeds will float to the top. These are duds and should be thrown out. Useable percentage of seeds for Silver Wattle seeds is about 40-60% so you should not be surprised if as much as half of the seeds float to the top.  We get these seeds from a top grower in the United States so you should get a germination rate on the high side of 60%. This is why we include enough seeds to ensure you will be able to germinate a few trees!
  5. Some of the seed may not swell within 24 hours. Those seeds that can be left in the water for another 24 hours. If they have not swolen within 48 hours then they are duds and can be thrown out. 

Places the pot in a semi-shaded spot. (2-4 hours of direct sunlight a day) Soil should be kept moist but not wet. Germination can occur between a few days and a few weeks. Remember to use the plant marker included in the kit to properly identify the tree type. 

Potting On: When seeds have germinated and the seedlings are large enough to (about 1 1/12 to 2 inches) place the pots in a shady area receiving only morning sunlight for one or two weeks. This is usually achieved within 6-12 months of starting your seeds. After this time gradually introduce the plants to more sunlight. Water regularly to prevent drying out. The silver wattle should not be left in the biodegradable pots for too long. Depending on the conditions you grow the tree in this could be six months to two years. When the tree is 3-5 inches tall plant place the pot in a bigger pot or in the ground as they quickly develop long root systems. 

Planting Out and Maintenance: To plant out in the garden select a well-drained spot, clear away any weeds or grass and dig a hole about twice the depth of the pot. Fill the hole twice with water allowing the water to drain away each time. Remove the plant from the pot, by gently knocking the pot on a firm surface to ease the plant out, Tease out the roots, straighten or trim any of those that are curled. Place the plant in the hole so that it matches the level of the soil in the pot. Hold the plant upright while you fill the rest of the hole. Continue to water about once a week until the new plant is established, especially if conditions are dry. If your planting in a bigger pot, follow the same instructions as placing it in the garden and place the tree in an area that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. 

Within one year you should be able to start pruning this tree and forming it into a bonsai. Do not start pruning till the tree has started flowering.

 

ALEPPO PINE

Aleppo pine is one of the easiest bonsai trees to grow. They will germinate reliably well without pretreatment, but they will sprout faster by scarification in water before sowing. So we recommend you try both to have the best chance of germination. 

  1. Place a few seeds in a cup of warm water. 
  2. Leave to soak overnight. This softens the coating and the seed absorbs water and swells. Even if the seeds swell, this means they are taking up water but they still could be empty shells. Its impossible to know this until you plant the seeds and see nothing sprout. 
  3. When they are left long enough, some of the seed will swell to nearly double  or triple the size. Transfer the swollen seeds to the coir soil in the pot for sowing. 
  4. Some of the seeds will float to the top. These are duds and should be thrown out. Useable percentage of seeds for Silver Wattle seeds is about 40-60% so you should not be surprised if as much as half of the seeds float to the top.  We get these seeds from a top grower in the United States so you should get a germination rate on the high side of 60%. This is why we include enough seeds to ensure you will be able to germinate a few trees!
  5. Some of the seed may not swell within 24 hours. Those seeds that can be left in the water for another 24 hours. If they have not swolen within 48 hours then they are duds and can be thrown out. 

Useable percentage of seeds for Aleppo Pine seeds is about 30-60% so you should not be surprised if as much as half of the seeds float to the top.  We get these seeds from a top grower in the United States so you should get a germination rate on the high side of 60%. This is why we include enough seeds to ensure you will be able to germinate a few trees!

Take 1 or 2 of seeds directly from the seed containers and sow them in the soil and take 1 or 2 of the swollen seeds and sow those as well. 

Place the pot in a semi-shaded spot. (2-4 hours of direct sunlight a day) Soil should be kept moist but not wet. Germination can occur between a few days and a few weeks. Remember to use the plant marker included in the kit to properly identify the tree type. 

Potting On: When seeds have germinated and the seedlings are large enough to (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches) place the pots in a shady area receiving only morning sunlight for one or two weeks. After this time gradually introduce the plants to more sunlight. Water regularly to prevent drying out. The aleppo pine should not be left in the biodegradable pots for more then 2 years. When the tree is 6 inches tall plant place the pot in the ground or in a bigger pot(12-24 inches) with potting soil. 

Planting Out and Maintenance: In the garden, select an area that gets a lot of sun. Clear away any weeds or grass and dig a hole about twice the depth of the pot. Fill the hole twice with water allowing the water to drain away each time. Remove the plant from the pot, by gently knocking the pot on a firm surface to ease the plant out, Tease out the roots, straighten or trim any of those that are curled. Place the plant in the hole so that it matches the level of the soil in the pot. Hold the plant upright while you fill the rest of the hole. Continue to water about once a week until the new plant is established, especially if conditions are dry. If your planting in a bigger pot, follow the same instructions as placing it in the garden and place the tree in an area that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. 

 

NORWAY SPRUCE

Norway spruce seeds are also easy to grow and will germinate well without pretreatment, but they will sprout faster by scarification in water before sowing. So we recommend you try both to have the best chance of germination. 

  1. Place 3-4 seed in a cup of warm water.  
  2. Leave to soak overnight. This softens the hard coating and the seed absorbs water and swells. Even if the seeds swell, this means they are taking up water but they still could be empty shells. Its impossible to know this until you plant the seeds and see nothing sprout. 
  3. When they are left long enough, some of the seed will swell to nearly double the size. Transfer the swollen seeds to the coir soil in the pot for sowing. 
  4. Some of the seeds will float to the top. These are duds and should be thrown out.
  5. Some of the seed may not swell within 24 hours. Those seeds that can be left in the water for another 24 hours. If they have not swolen within 24 hours then they are duds and can be thrown out. 

Take 1 or 2 of seeds directly from the seed containers and sow them in the soil and take 1 or 2 of the swollen seeds and sow them both.  

Norway spruce seeds germinate in one to three weeks reliably if the room temperature is kept around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Germination rate is pretty high. Around 70-80%, 

Place the pot in a semi-shaded spot. (2-4 hours of direct sunlight a day) Soil should be kept moist but not wet. Germination can occur between a few days and a few weeks. Remember to use the plant marker included in the kit to properly identify the tree type. 

Potting On: When seeds have germinated and the seedlings are large enough to (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches) place the pots in a shady area receiving only morning sunlight for one or two weeks. After this time gradually introduce the plants to more sunlight. Water regularly to prevent drying out. The norway spruce should not be left in the biodegradable pots for too long. When the tree is 6 inches tall plant place the pot in the ground or in a bigger pot(12 inches) with potting soil as they quickly develop long root systems. Depending on the conditions this could take 6 months to 2 years.

Planting Out and Maintenance: In the garden, select an area that gets a lot of sun. Clear away any weeds or grass and dig a hole about twice the depth of the pot. Fill the hole twice with water allowing the water to drain away each time. Remove the plant from the pot, by gently knocking the pot on a firm surface to ease the plant out, Tease out the roots, straighten or trim any of those that are curled. Place the plant in the hole so that it matches the level of the soil in the pot. Hold the plant upright while you fill the rest of the hole. Continue to water about once a week until the new plant is established, especially if conditions are dry. If your planting in a bigger pot, follow the same instructions as placing it in the garden and place the tree in an area that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. 

 

HEDGE MAPLE

Hedge Maple seeds are also easy to grow and will germinate well without pretreatment, but they will sprout faster by scarification in water before sowing. So we recommend you try both to have the best chance of germination. 

  1. Place 3-4 seed in a cup of warm water.  
  2. Leave to soak overnight. This softens the hard coating and the seed absorbs water and swells. Even if the seeds swell, this means they are taking up water but they still could be empty shells. Its impossible to know this until you plant the seeds and see nothing sprout. 
  3. When they are left long enough, some of the seed will swell to nearly double the size. Transfer the swollen seeds to the coir soil in the pot for sowing. 
  4. Some of the seeds will float to the top. These are duds and should be thrown out.
  5. Some of the seed may not swell within 24 hours. Those seeds that can be left in the water for another 24 hours. If they have not swolen within 24 hours then they are duds and can be thrown out. 

Take 1 or 2 of seeds directly from the seed containers and sow them in the soil and take 1 or 2 of the swollen seeds and sow them both.  

Norway spruce seeds germinate in one to three weeks reliably if the room temperature is kept around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Germination rate is pretty high. Around 70-80%, 

Place the pot in a semi-shaded spot. (2-4 hours of direct sunlight a day) Soil should be kept moist but not wet. Germination can occur between a few days and a few weeks. Remember to use the plant marker included in the kit to properly identify the tree type. 

Potting On: When seeds have germinated and the seedlings are large enough to (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches) place the pots in a shady area receiving only morning sunlight for one or two weeks. After this time gradually introduce the plants to more sunlight. Water regularly to prevent drying out. The norway spruce should not be left in the biodegradable pots for too long. When the tree is 6 inches tall plant place the pot in the ground or in a bigger pot(12 inches) with potting soil as they quickly develop long root systems. Depending on the conditions this could take 6 months to 2 years.

Planting Out and Maintenance: In the garden, select an area that gets a lot of sun. Clear away any weeds or grass and dig a hole about twice the depth of the pot. Fill the hole twice with water allowing the water to drain away each time. Remove the plant from the pot, by gently knocking the pot on a firm surface to ease the plant out, Tease out the roots, straighten or trim any of those that are curled. Place the plant in the hole so that it matches the level of the soil in the pot. Hold the plant upright while you fill the rest of the hole. Continue to water about once a week until the new plant is established, especially if conditions are dry. If your planting in a bigger pot, follow the same instructions as placing it in the garden and place the tree in an area that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. 

 

JAPANESE RED PINE

Japanese Red Pines are easy to grow but require more patience then the other 4 seeds.  They require an extra step which makes the process longer. But don't let this stop you from giving it a try. When you soak Japanese Red Pine seeds, many if not all might not sink. This is normal. You need to put them into cold stratification next for germination, so don't be discouraged if you see this happen. 

The Cold Stratification Process Explained Further

Mix a few tree seeds in a clean plastic sealed or ziplock bag with the coir soil. Make sure to expand the soil discs first before putting it in the bag with the seeds. DO NOT PUT IN THE FREEZER!!! It is important to slightly dampen the coir soil. Excessive moisture can cause the soil to grow moldy. You should not be able to squeeze any dripping water out of a handful of the coir soil. Leave the bag inside the fridge for 30 days.  Once you see a few seeds start to germinate in stratification they can be removed and planted. Sometimes the seeds will germinate sooner. When they do you know its time to sow them in the pots. Take the soil and remove it from the bag and place it in the pot. Place the pre germinating seed in the soil.  

Place the pot in a semi-shaded spot. (2-4 hours of direct sunlight a day) Soil should be kept moist but not wet. Germination can occur between a few days and a few weeks. Remember to use the plant marker included in the kit to properly identify the tree type. 

Potting On: Place the pot with the pre germinating seeds in a shady area receiving only morning sunlight for one or two weeks. After this time gradually introduce the plants to more sunlight. Water regularly to prevent drying out. The Japanese Red Pine is a slower growing tree and can survive in the included pots for up to two years. When the tree is about 6 inches tall plant place the pot in the ground or in a bigger pot(12-18 inches) with potting soil as they quickly develop long root systems.

Planting Out and Maintenance: In the garden, select an area that gets a lot of sun. Clear away any weeds or grass and dig a hole about twice the depth of the pot. Fill the hole twice with water allowing the water to drain away each time. Remove the plant from the pot, by gently knocking the pot on a firm surface to ease the plant out, Tease out the roots, straighten or trim any of those that are curled. Place the plant in the hole so that it matches the level of the soil in the pot. Hold the plant upright while you fill the rest of the hole. Continue to water about once a week until the new plant is established, especially if conditions are dry. If your planting in a bigger pot, follow the same instructions as placing it in the garden and place the tree in an area that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. 

 

 



    Scroll To Top