Growing bonsai from seed is possible. Our small trees in pots are started with many different kinds of plants and in many different ways.
Growing from “bonsai tree seeds” is just one way and perhaps the very slowest.
The first thing to learn is:
There is no such thing as ‘bonsai seeds’.
Seeds of trees “suitable for bonsai" is much better terminology.
Buying bonsai tree seeds is no different than buying the same type of seed in a garden center or collecting them from a tree in your yard.
Being in a pretty package, changes nothing.
There is no special effect on the plant.
Pictures on seed packages are often of fabulous old bonsai trees.
This is not what your seedling will look like without many, many years of study, planning, shaping and maintenance.
(And - it may not happen in your lifetime.)
Some of the trees we use for bonsai are not common in all planting zones. Many seeds that may grow in one area may not grow in another.
Online sources specialize in plant seeds that will eventually make a bonsai.
(If you are looking for rare seeds, they may be a little more costly.)
Shop around, ask questions about what will grow in your climate and select a reliable source.
Experiment with seeds from trees where you live. They're free.
Growing bonsai from seed, although slow, can be fun and rewarding.
The big disadvantage is the amount of time it takes to establish a mature bonsai from seed. Timing will also depend upon the species. Some plants are much slower than others. Another disadvantage is the light required.
For those who grow bonsai indoors, be sure to give your seedlings plenty of light so they remain compact and don't "stretch" trying to reach the sun.
The biggest advantage of seeds is you can manage the shape of your tree from the very beginning.
It’s a good idea to have other bonsai trees in progress, while you wait, work and watch the seedlings grow.
There are many plants that grow quickly from seed, including many tropicals.
Begin with a plant that will eventually meet the desirable attributes of a good bonsai -- small leaves, proportionate flowers and a woody trunk. The tropical Acacia farnesiana is one such plant.
The planting of this 'forest' began as a scattering of seeds in a long aluminum foil tray. In the beginning, the seedlings were allowed to grow tall to help develop the trunks.
Eventually the small trees were cut in half! Any trees that were too close together or grew crooked were removed.
This is not the traditional method of creating a grouping.
It could, however, be a fun way to encourage a young person's desire of growing bonsai from seed and at the same time fulfilling their need for instant gratification.
To think a handful of “bonsai seeds” can become a forest is a pretty exciting concept!
is my free monthly newsletter. Subscribe to get current tips, ideas and photos that may not appear on this site.
"Wow, read in one day -- will take a lifetime to master! Great book."
- Lee S.
So glad to know you're a real person!
. . . Bob C
I knew you would know. Perfect!
. . . Carol S
Mary, thank you so much for your quick response and info. You are terrific!
. . . B
Finding your website was like finding that needle in a haystack! I
truly enjoy your straightforward information on all the topics you
. . . Kristian M
People like you solidify novices like me and our desire to continue in creating Bonsai.
. . . Brian P