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Stratification of Bonsai Seeds

While some seeds sprout immediately in suitable conditions, other species may take quite a process to grow. Most seed species require careful preparation and storage right before they are set to germinate. Stratification and scarification are two common preparative steps before growing most of the bonsai seeds. Stratification refers to subjecting seeds to cold temperatures to snap them from dormancy. On the other hand, scarification comes with the soaking of seeds under room temperature water for some time, usually a day or two. So, where do we start while growing a bonsai from seeds?

Choosing the Kind of Bonsai You Want to Grow

The choice of the bonsai tree you wish to grow is yours to make. However, I recommend buying seeds from a reputable dealer for the best results on bonsai trees. It is best to choose seeds that would easily adapt to your environment. Some of the common tree species to choose from include pine, birch, fir, cedar, and maple. Notably, most of the trees in these species are easy to grow.

Preparation of the Seeds

As noted earlier, not every seed is ready to sprout at any given time and in any given condition. Therefore, you need to prepare the seeds before planting them. Before purchasing any seeds for planting, one should always seek some information on the particular seeds. The basic preparation steps for seeds include scarification and stratification before planting. So, what are these two processes?

Scarification and Stratification of Bonsai Seeds

Many of the seeds we know respond promptly to the seasonal changes, surviving a cold winter and sprouting into beautiful seedlings during spring. However, other seeds will never do so since they sense neither a warm nor a cold season. Scarification and stratification of seeds are an artificial way to mimic the seasons, helping seeds reach dormancy. So, what are the steps in each of the seed preparation procedures?

Processes of Scarification and Stratification of Seeds

The process of seed scarification involves soaking the seeds in water for about a day or two. I recommend that you check the specific time limit for the seeds you wish to plant. You will note that some of the seeds have a hard shell or coating over them. Therefore, you need to scratch the hard shell with a pin to expose the white layer.

The following step is to soak the seeds in water under room temperature as per the seed’s scarification needs.

Any seeds that float on the water should be removed and disposed of since floating is an indication that the shell might be empty; hence, no germination would occur. After the soaking time elapses, this marks the beginning of the stratification period. Here it would help if you planted your seeds in soft bedding such as peat moss. Water the peat moss, ensuring it is moist, and place it in a resealable plastic bag together with the seeds. 

Finally, place the seeds in a refrigerator for the specified time, usually a month to six months. Any sprouting seed is ready to be planted in the soil.

Caring for the Seeds After Germination

After transferring your germinating seeds to a larger pot, care for them properly. Care for the seeds after germination normally follows the care tips for bonsai trees. Some of the tips include regular watering, exposure to sunlight and warmth, and feeding the tree. Overwatering and underwatering should be avoided, and you should give the little plant adequate sunlight exposure. Feeding the plant may start anywhere between five to six months after planting or as per recommendations for the subject bonsai tree.


Growing the perfect bonsai tree takes effort and patience. To make sure you have the right process, evaluate your choice of bonsai tree and the preparation of the seeds. However, even more important is the post-germination care for your already sprouted and planted bonsai plant. Your bonsai will thrive if you complete all steps of planting and care in the right way.

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