Bonsai Scarification, Stratification, and Germination: Planting Bonsai from seed

Posted by on Feb 26, 2010 in Bonsai | One Comment

It’s been well over a decade since I worked for a small  nursery and helped grow and care for plants.  The care for trees, and specifically Bonsai is an ancient Chinese tradition, mastered by the Japanese, and extremely popular the world over.  One process that may need a bit of covering is one called the Scarification and Stratification of Bonsai Seeds, or growing Bonsai tree from seeds.

The process is fairly straight forward.  You start by buying seeds.  A few months ago, I bought seeds from two vendors, the first of which is Dallas Bonsai.

Dallas Bonsai sells Japanese Bonsai tree seeds in Japanese packages with English translations of the directions attached.  I’m raising Acer Palmatum, both Red and Green.  I started by soaking the seeds in the packages in a small cup of warm (exactly 120 degree Farenheit) water, for 48 hours, to remove the seed coating used by most seed packagers to help delay the germination of seeds in transport.  This process is called Scarification and has absolutely nothing to do with Scarification.   The temperature also activates the fungi attached to the seed, awakens the chemicals within the nascent seed, and prepares for the successful Stratification of the plant.

There are two major types of Stratification:

Warm Stratification

76 Japanese Maple Tree Seeds in Ziplock Sandwich bags, with a tablespoon of moist Peat Moss

Here are 76 individually bagged Japanese Red Maple Seeds, in the warm Strat phase

Warm stratification is where you provide the seed the impression that it is awaiting a warm season.  This precedes a Cold stratification, which simulates a short winter, and convinces the seed that it is time to start growing.

Cedrus Brevfolia completes Cold Stratification in the Refrigerator.

When Cold Stratification ends, I’ll plant these seeds in their desired growing medium, probably a soft clay mixture, and I’ll try to germinate the seeds.  Germination is the process where the plant will emerge from its seed and grow to a seedling.  As the seedling grows, a character will be observed.  With these batches, I intend on choosing those that seem to have the best chances of becoming good Bonsai trees and modifying them to the Bonsai lifestyle, of just enough, and cultured growing. In a few years, with care and attention,  the Maples will be a small forest.  The remaining trees, rather than merely discarded, will be grown into healthy young trees, and given as gifts to friends and family.  With any luck some of the Bonsai tree seedling too will be given to others.

1 Comment

  1. roy

    You r strange………………..

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