Growing Bonsai From Seed Step by Step


I have grown many plants from seed but I must confess that my first experience of growing a Bonsai Tree from seed was vicarious. In fact I did not even know that you could grow them from seed which sounds a bit silly know that I think about it because well, they are plants/trees…… and plants/trees come from seed!!

Any way one day I had gone to visit a friend, and when I knocked on the door it was opened by his son who told me that his dad was outback. When I asked what he was doing out back, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know planting Bonsai Trees I guess. “Although by this time I had already been bitten by the bug and bought my first tree, I was shocked when I found my friend in the shed like his son had said, planting seeds. I happily spent the afternoon helping him and socking up all the knowledge that he had acquired over the years. He on the other hand bent over laughing when told him my surprise that Bonsai could be grown from seed.

Now that I look back I was being daft.

Pros of growing from seed

This is probably the best way to have total control over your bonsai since you will be able to influence all the stages of its growth.

Taking part in the beginning cycle of a tree can be exciting and rewarding


It is a slow process some seeds will take months to germinate while others will not germinate if the conditions are not right. Secondly, it will even if they germinate successfully, it will take a longer time before they are ready to be trained. On the plus side, while your plants are growing, you have so much time to learn more about the craft.

What seeds to use for bonsai

For anyone wondering, the seeds used to grow Bonsai trees are the very same ones used for normal trees. They look and germinate the same as any ordinary tree seed. One of the most common questions is how long do bonsai seeds take to germinate.Since  the seeds used are the same as for normal trees  the duration from the time they are planted to germinating is the same as ordinary trees. In fact the difference between Bonsai and ordinary trees is due to the way they are treated once they germinate.

How to germinate seeds

How to plant bonsai tree seeds

Although you can plant them straight into the ground, this will make it difficult to control the conditions under which the seedling grows. It is better to use a pot or planting tray. However if you use a tray them the plant will have to be moved once it sprouts.

Planting instructions

Instructions on planting seeds and taking care of sprouted plants normally depends on the species and climatic conditions.

  1. To prepare the pot/tray, place a mesh in the bottom
  2. and cover this mesh with soil that has larger particles, and on top of this layer,
  3. Add soil with finer particles mixed with potting compost.
  4. Place the seeds on top of this section and cover with the same soil mixture (the seedling will be planted in this top layer. This will make the circulation of air better in the pot for the plant. Soils of finer particles can.

Things to look out for

It is easiest to germinate seeds that would naturally germinate (in the wild) in the same climatic condition and season that you are planting it.
Sometimes conditions might not be optimum for seed germanium. It could be that;

  • Seeds have been stored for a long time,
  • That tree specie does not generally grow in the climate/region they are being germinated or
  • seeds planted out of season

If this is the case then you might need to pre-treat the seeds to encourage them germinate by exposing them the conditions under which they would germinate in the wild. This process is called stratification.

How to take care of your plant once they germinate

You will most likely start by planting numerous seed, each stage of their growth is an opportunity to get rid of the least healthy for example most likely not all your seeds will germinate and from the ones that germinate, you can choose the most healthy plants to keep, over time you might choose a few to wire and so on.

Once the seedlings have sprouted, place them in a sunny spot and let them be. Now is not the time to repot or prune. They are also not strong enough to withstand fertilizer yet. In the following spring, they can be repotted.

Root pruning

Over time, seedlings will develop a more defined root system consisting of both tap and fine roots. In the wild, trees usually develop long roots (tap roots) which is strong enough to push into the soil to provide not only stability for the tree but also to absorb nutrients from the soil and they also develop finer roots that develop laterally. However in bonsai, we do not want to encourage these long roots, instead the finer do this, the tap root is pruned by cutting with a sharp knife.

Creating a compact tree

A compact tree begins with a compact root system therefore it is important to pay attention to the root structure of your tree within the first year. It should be pruned within the first year after germination.

Growing bonsai from seed requires a lot of patience but  it is worthwhile during the process we learn one of the great lessons than anyone who has been  doing it for a while will tell you; how to be patient and enjoy the journey not only look forward to the destination.