Bonsai Kit FAQ's
Congratulations on your new Bonsai Growing Kit. To help you get the most out of your Bonsai Starter Kit we have developed some additional instructions and pointers to help you with germinating and caring for your Bonsai seeds.
Maple Bonsai Growing Tips
Japanese Maple or Acer Palmatum is a deciduous tree species originating from Eastern Asia. With beautiful hand shaped leaves that turn varying shades of colour in Autumn they are very sought after for home gardeners and bonsai enthusiasts.
In their natural environment maple trees go through a Winter dormancy. Growth slows right down in the Autumn as the trees lose their leaves and begin to bunker down. The ripe seeds fall down off the trees with their wing like structure helping them to disperse. This wing dries off and is often removed during commercial seed processing. The seeds are then left on the ground through Winter and begin to germinate once Spring arrives and the soil has warmed.
Stratification of your bonsai seeds:
When growing maple seeds at home we need to mimic this natural process with a technique called stratification to initiate germination. To stratify your seeds, follow the steps below.
- Place your seeds in a bowl and cover with warm water.
- Leave the seeds to soak for 24-48 hours.
- After soaking, remove the seeds and place into a ziplock bag. Before bagging It can be helpful to wrap the seeds in moist paper towel or bury in about a cupful of moist (not dripping wet) vermiculite or potting soil. This will keep them from drying out.
- Seal up your zip lock bag leaving air inside and place into the refrigerator (your fridge is about 3-5°C).
- Each week or so refresh the air inside your bag and check to see if the paper towel or soil medium is still moist. Mist with water if needed.
- Leave your bag in the refrigerator for 5-10 weeks. If you notice your seeds begin to sprout a small white tail this is a great time to remove them for planting. They may not always pre sprout, in which case we recommend leaving in the refrigerator for the maximum time of 10 weeks.
Autumn and Spring in Australia is the best time to sow your stratified Maple seeds. This is closer to their natural growing season. If you wish to plant your seeds in the other seasons, try out these tips:
Winter sowing- Keep your pots in a light area indoors and place inside a mini hothouse to keep the soil warmer. You could also repurpose clear food containers flipped upside down to insulate the pots.
Summer sowing- Place pots indoors away from direct sunlight. You do not want to burn the young shoots. They will need regular watering and daily monitoring as small pots dry out fast.
Once sprouted, hardening off your young tree seedlings is recommended before moving to their final bonsai pot. This acclimatises them to outdoor conditions and prevents leggy weak seedlings.
Begin by bringing your pots outdoors for a couple of hours at a time in some partial sun. Ensure they are protected from strong winds which can knock over pots and dry out the soil. Gradually increase the time outdoors over a period of 1-2 weeks. Watering is a must and should be done regularly, particularly in hot weather.
For further growing information including how to prune, fertilise and style your new bonsai tree, check out the care booklet included in your kit or download it at the top of this page.
Apple Blossom Bonsai Growing Tips
Malus micromalus or Dwarf Crabapple is a delightful species of tree that is part of the Rosaceae family, the same as Roses! This deciduous species is used in gardens for the beautiful flowers and is even known to be used for root stock on grafted apple trees. The clusters of pink flower buds produce masses of delicate white flowers in the Spring time and create a striking bonsai specimen.
Originating from cold mountainous regions crab apples have often been used for creating jams and other preserves. The small fruits are quite sour and tart and as a result the trees are commonly used instead for their aesthetic appeal.
- Crab Apple seeds benefit from pretreatment prior to sowing. The stratification steps from the Maple tips above can be used for your apple blossom seeds to break the dormancy.
- As with many bonsai seeds the ideal time of year for sowing is in the Spring and Autumn. Once treated the seed should be sown in stable temperatures of about 18-22°C.
Jacaranda Bonsai Growing Tips
Commonly referred to as Blue Jacaranda, Jacaranda mimosifolia is a surprisingly hardy deciduous tree. This sub-tropical species originating from South America is now grown all across Australia and makes a striking bonsai specimen, particularly when the masses of violet flowers emerge in the Spring and Summer.
Due to their natural sub-tropical climate Jacaranda are relatively simple to germinate compared to other species of trees. The woody, oval shaped seed pods begin to appear after the flowering season and hang from the trees or fall to the ground. Inside these exterior pods are the light papery seeds.
The ideal planting time is in Spring and Autumn when it is neither too cold or too hot. Jacaranda germinate the best in temperatures of about 20-24°C and can take two to three weeks to sprout. Mature trees will slow down their growth in the Winter dropping most of their leaves. For Winter sowing of your Bonsai we recommend sowing pots indoors inside a mini greenhouse to keep the soil warmer which will mimic their natural growing season.
- Soak your jacaranda seeds in a shallow dish of water overnight prior to planting and then continue with your sowing instructions.
- Check your pots daily, particularly in warmer weather as they will need to be monitored for moisture. The medium will turn a light brown colour when dry which indicates they need more water. Choose a fine shower setting on your hose as too strong of water pressure may wash away the small seeds.
- It is advised to place your pots in a bright location, but out of direct sunlight to begin with. Direct sunlight may dry out your potting soil quite quickly which can lead to a reduction in germination rates.
Pine Bonsai Growing Tips
Mr Fothergill’s pine bonsai are supplied with the seeds of Pinus patula or ‘’Mexican Weeping Pine’’. This evergreen species of tree originates from Mexico and features fine feathery needles that take on an interesting weeping or drooped appearance.
Popularly grown in Eastern Australia as full size specimens they show a good tolerance to periods of drought and cold. When germinating Pines, it can be helpful to consider the following tips to get them off to a great start:
- Autumn and Spring are ideal temperatures for sowing Pines, this is because they will germinate best in soil temperatures of about 15-20°C. Pine may struggle to germinate well in soil that is too warm.
- Pines can be quite slow going, taking at times 30 to even 60 days to germinate. It is important to monitor your pots in this time period for germination and not to discard them too soon.
- The seeds should be sown at a shallow depth as light assists them in the germination process. Make sure you only cover your seeds with a fine sprinkling of soil and keep moist at all times. By placing out of direct sunlight to begin with it can help the medium from drying out too quickly.
- In some instances, stratifying the pine seeds will improve germination. This technique is required for the Maple bonsai and can be useful for the Pines, refer to the Maple instructions above for instructions on stratifying your seeds. If you are more strapped for time, try placing your pine seeds in the refrigerator for 24 hours prior to sowing.
If you have any questions, please contact us.