How to start your Bonsai
- Obtain a tree seed native to your area. You can search through a local forest for seeds or purchase them from a garden center. Buying from a garden center will ensure that your seed is able to germinate, as many forest seeds may have disease or a fungus keeping it from growing. But creating a bonsai tree from a seed found in the forest is considered by many to be the highest form of art.
- Find a seed tray or pot 6 inches deep. Be sure that it has a hole for drainage.
- Mix a 1 to 2-inch bottom layer of the tray with 1-part grit or gravel and one part akadama. Akadama is a special type of bonsai clay that can be found at a garden center or ordered online.
- Mix separately 2 parts akadama, 1-part gravel and 1-part compost. Layer this mixture into the tray until the soil is 1 inch below the tray's rim.
- Place the seeds on top of the soil, evenly spreading them out. Always sow at least 3 seeds to ensure that at least one will germinate and grow. Place each seed 1 to 2 inches apart.
- Cover the seeds with the akadama, gravel and compost mixture and water thoroughly.
- Place the tray in full sun and keep the soil damp but not soaked. Leave the seeds untouched throughout the winter and spring. If the seeds are native to the area, germination will take place over winter with new sprouts growing in spring. After one year (the next spring), separate the seedlings if more than one has sprouted.
Growing the Tree
1. Place the seedlings in separate pots. The size of the pot depends on the size you wish your tree to grow.
- Wait three years and allow the tree to grow at an unrestricted rate. This allows the tree trunk to grow to a thicker size before dwarfing its branches and height.
- Train your tree with copper wiring or other restraints on the branches. There are many styles and techniques to follow when training or shaping a bonsai tree. Your tree will not grow into a bonsai shape on its own. It will grow into a normal-sized tree without restraint. Bonsai is the art of dwarfing the tree and shaping it to maintain a certain aesthetic appearance.