Are fruit seeds a viable way to start bonsai?

Melendwyr

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I've been looking around for tree seedlings growing in unwanted places, but most of the candidates I see are on private property or are inaccessible. Buying trees is expensive. So I've been looking into starting tree seeds myself, and the most obvious place to start is with the seeds of the fruits I eat. (Also oaks and maples, but I already have access to lots of info about them.)

Are there any fruit trees that make particularly good bonsai? My reading suggests that apples and crabapples can work, but what about other fruits?
 

Melendwyr

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The local university is quite devoted to its elms... which are sprayed regularly with pesticides to prevent Dutch elm disease from taking hold. No effort is being made to replace them, although the survivors do produce lots of seed. Is it hard to germinate elm seed?
 
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Citrus is fun indoors.
This! Is true, for most... I made the mistake of starting many citrus indoors (early on) with NO supplemental lighting, no humidification..west-facing window... eeeeh you get the idea. The point is, I killed 14 lemons and 8 meyer lemons through ignorance.. and have been kind of “soured” on the whole situation (😂).... until quarantine.. tried grapefruit and mandarin... they are... alive.
@sorce has also pointed pupil’s pupils toward elm, I see.

This is wise...


Is it hard to germinate elm seed?
You can basically throw the samaras at a turd and they’d sprout mildly aggressive-like. ;)

But in all seriousness, regarding the propagation of elms from samaras... you shouldn’t experience difficulties... people will probably share their favorite ways.. try em all! (when you find some.. you find many)

I feel it necessary to state that Kumquats, grown from seed, have been known to be decent bonsai specimens during a “reasonable” (comparative) time-frame.

Also... explore berries... a lot of info to “chew on” there. ;)
 

Melendwyr

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In previous years I've had luck germinating seed from the fruit of chinese quinces, which are an element of some people's landscaping. The problem was that they sprouted in the fridge and getting them growing from there was hard. I've considered trying to stratify them outdoors in some kind of container.

Tasty as chinese quinces are, they're not the most common type of fruit seed I was thinking of.
 

penumbra

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Most fruits you would eat are not normally going to make good bonsai.
Buy a couple elms, maples or such online. You can get a plant already growing and gain a few years and much frustration. There are a ton on eBay in the $10 to $30 range.
 
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The bear doing the spread arms thing is just kind of creepy to be honest.

On fruit seeds, I've sprouted an apricot after stratification and grinding down the shell so it could sprout more easily. It was growing real nice in the orchard until I accidentally stepped on it.

Citrus, in my experience will sprout quite easily if you don't let the seeds dry out.

I've had mixed luck with apples.

Acer rubrums grow like frickin crazy. They are very vigorous and easy.

It might be worth a few dollars, and it would add to the fun, if you got a cheap landscape juniper from a box store. They are forgiving and the cuttings sprout readily so you will have a steady supply to learn from.

Growing from seeds is wonderful but can be excruciatingly slow! Just my 2 cents.
 

RJG2

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I’m thinking a JamBerry tree...

I LOVE jam berries!

Not joking, either.... well besides the joke.

:)
Tree of 40 fruits bonsai? Might need a pretty large pot.


Apparently one was planted in Portland (Maine). I need to go check it out. I have grafted 6 or 7 different types of apple to my apple tree. Still young though, only two types pollinated this year (the base Honeycrisp and a Yellow Jay branch I think). It got hit hard by caterpillars... I should have sprayed this year...
 

Melendwyr

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Citrus, in my experience will sprout quite easily if you don't let the seeds dry out.
Any kinds of citrus in particular? After many years of trying and failing to sprout lemon seeds, I used an organically-grown lemon that was very developed, and now I have a seedling. My attempts to sprout pink lemons and Key limes have failed so far.
 
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Myers lemons and pink grapefruits have worked for me. Straight from the fruit to the soil. I think I got a Clementine to sprout once but it didn't make it very long.
 

Shibui

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We had amateur propagators competing to get 100 varieties on a single apple tree. Not sure if anyone ever got there but I have had 19 different varieties on a single tree.

Most eating varieties don't really make good bonsai. Fruits are a bit big for a convincing mini tree if you let it fruit. Many have coarse growth habit.
Crab apples are used a lot, especially small fruit types. Easy to grow from seed.
Kumquat (calamondin) are small fruit citrus and I have seen bonsai versions but not easy to grow well in a pot. Should grow fine from seed.
Chinese quince are easy to germinate. Not sure why yours failed. Just plant germinating seeds in a pot and it usually grows fine. Used a lot for bonsai due to the great bark, flowers and fruit.
Apples should sprout easily. I sometimes get germinating seeds in cool store apples in spring. Fresh seed may need stratification to germinate. Can make good bonsai but best not to allow fruit to mature.
Pears are sometimes used but growth habit can be coarse and open. Stratify seed for better germination.
Citrus seed can be polyembryonic so you sometimes get several seedlings from one seed. I have also had germinating seed inside some citrus.

Talk to friends, relations and work colleagues about your bonsai passion. Someone will have plants in the garden that they don't want of need to get rid of to put in a pool or extension or something. Many advanced plants can be transplanted into pots and give a great head start to good bonsai.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Raising bonsai from seed is "the slow route", and I do mean years to decades. The "quickest route" to bonsai is to locate a tree or shrub that is 5 to 10 times taller than the desired bonsai, and work to reduce the tree from that point.

Bonsai from seed often must be allowed to grow to 5 to 10 times the size to get the desired trunk caliper. You save a lot of time, starting with a larger, older piece of nursery stock.

Crab apples, apples and pears all make great flowering bonsai, if fruit are too large, you simply remove fruit before it develops. Problem is they take 10 years to 20 years to bloom the first time when grown from seed. Cutting grown apples will bloom in just a couple years.

Apricot & plums will bloom from seed in 5 to 10 years. These culinary stone actually make decent bonsai, but they tend to be a bit coarse in structure. Best for medium to larger size bonsai, maybe 2 to 4 feet tall.

Peaches and nectarines are much more coarse in growth habit, so more difficult to "bonsai". They can bloom in as little as 5 years from seed.

Citrus make excellent bonsai, once they hit about 25 years of age from seed. It takes that long for the ugly green bark to become the nice brown or black bark they eventually get.

Kiwi vines (Actinida chinensis) can be grown from seed. They begin blooming at 8 years or so. You need to let the vines run 20 feet or more fore a few years to develop trunk diameter. Lovely fragrant flowers, old trunks have great bark. The tiny seeds in the kiwi's you buy at the market will germinate, often without stratification.

Tamarind makes interesting tropical bonsai, and is fairly quick from seed, pods available at Latino fruit markets.

i can go on, but point is, starting from seed is slowly route and requires some horticultural skill.

i highly recommend starting with cutting grown crab apples from Evergreen Gardenworks, they will save you years.

 

Vali

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I've started this hobby with an apple I ate. It's just a growing stick but I really enjoy looking at it. I do this only for pleasure and am really happy with my small collection. I didn't, and still don't want to invest too much money in this, so I'm taking it easy. Start with an apple and you will grow from there, you'll see. You have nothing to lose but a seed. Over time you will come across more oportunities to expand your collection by other means. There will be a time when you will get yourself a good material to work with, but by then you will know some important things in order to keep it alive and thriving. I like to experiment on cheap things rather than on expensive ones. This way I don't lose too much. Just one step at a time. Not to say that digging out a tree from the wild without having minimal knowledge on how to care for it is kind of...immoral - in my opinion
 

smilezzz

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I've been looking around for tree seedlings growing in unwanted places, but most of the candidates I see are on private property or are inaccessible. Buying trees is expensive. So I've been looking into starting tree seeds myself, and the most obvious place to start is with the seeds of the fruits I eat. (Also oaks and maples, but I already have access to lots of info about them.)

Are there any fruit trees that make particularly good bonsai? My reading suggests that apples and crabapples can work, but what about other fruits?
You want to save some moola, some chaching, some of that big old green on trees? Cuttings! Since I've joined a club last year, I've propogated:
- Lonicera (dwarf and Japanese honeysuckle)
- Tons and tons of Serissa
- Juniper Nanas (only 3 so far though)
- Olive
- Myrtle
- Ficus (Natalensis, Burtt-Davey, microcarpa and burkei)
- Jade (crassula ovata and p afra)
- Rosemary
- Westringia
- Hackberry
- Eugenia

Advantages of Cuttings over Seeds:

- Depending on the species, it could save you a couple of years.
- plants won't take as long to flower
- you'll find out a lot quicker if you were unsuccessful in rooting the cutting than if the seed has sprouted

Try it out, I've asked several strangers if I could take a snip off their plants, and have been met with confused affirmations, no harm in asking, right?

I used to carry around a pair of scissors and a partially filled bottle just in case I pass something roadside growing wild on the road side (public roads, easily accessible where no one will mind if I snip a little) , but they're usually die very quickly, maybe they dry out too fast, maybe they're not as strong as the cuttings I've got from members healthy trees at club...

Enjoy man!!!
 
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You want to save some moola, some chaching, some of that big old green on trees? Cuttings! Since I've joined a club last year, I've propogated:
- Lonicera (dwarf and Japanese honeysuckle)
- Tons and tons of Serissa
- Juniper Nanas (only 3 so far though)
- Olive
- Myrtle
- Ficus (Natalensis, Burtt-Davey, microcarpa and burkei)
- Jade (crassula ovata and p afra)
- Rosemary
- Westringia
- Hackberry
- Eugenia

Advantages of Cuttings over Seeds:

- Depending on the species, it could save you a couple of years.
- plants won't take as long to flower
- you'll find out a lot quicker if you were unsuccessful in rooting the cutting than if the seed has sprouted

Try it out, I've asked several strangers if I could take a snip off their plants, and have been met with confused affirmations, no harm in asking, right?

I used to carry around a pair of scissors and a partially filled bottle just in case I pass something roadside growing wild on the road side (public roads, easily accessible where no one will mind if I snip a little) , but they're usually die very quickly, maybe they dry out too fast, maybe they're not as strong as the cuttings I've got from members healthy trees at club...

Enjoy man!!!
Yes yes YES YES YES!!!!!!
 
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