Pine Seedlings - Advice

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Hi Everyone,

I'm fairly new to the bonsai world but I've bought a few trees that have been successful over about a year. I've just signed up to the forum.

I've also been trying my hand at growing pine seedlings (not entirely sure of the exact name as they were from a mixed bag - identification would also be appreciated!). They grew rapidly from seed after germination but are now looking very spindly after about 4 months of growing. I read somewhere about techniques of thickening the stem but I'm a bit nervous to try them out. Does anyone have any advice on how I should go about thickening them out a bit?

They get plenty of Sun at a South-facing window and I've also experimented with a grow light. They're currently in a soil mixture of coir, peat, bark and kyodama.

I'm aware that growing from seed is challenging (especially for a neebie!) but I've never been able to resist a challenge!

IMG_2494.JPG
 
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Yes, they are being grown indoors at a South-facing window. I've also be supplementing with a grow light and putting them on the window sill at night when the Sun moves to the back of the house. They get several hours of direct sunlight but I do live in the UK so Sun can sometimes be in short supply!
 
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I've found a spot for the little guy in the garden. I'm just a bit worried about leaving him out there when I'm at work tomorrow. We get a lot of sudden showers around where I live as well as foxes. I think he'll be alright where he is but the foxes can be quite ingenious!
 

Shibui

Chumono
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Full sun is best for pines but any tree that has been inside can still burn if immediately exposed to a full day of midsummer sun. I'd suggest a spot with morning sun for a week or so then gradually build up to full sun all day if that is possible and it seems to be coping.
Most pines should be fine outside all year round in London so don't worry about the overwintering stuff that growers in cold climates talk about.
Foxes should not be interested in pine trees but could accidentally knock it over while investigating something else and I would avoid using blood and bone based fertilisers to avoid attracting unwanted attention.

There are several techniques that can be used with pine seedlings but, as a beginner, I would advise just feed, water and let it grow for a year at least. You may not be aware but most advanced bonsai are cut down rather than grown up so very few have ben started and grown in a bonsai pot.
 
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Thank you everyone for your advice. It has been really eye-opening for me.

I have been moving the seedlings in and out of the house for the last few weeks as my instinct was that they needed more Sun, so they are used to full Sun exposure for several hours. Nevertheless, I will build up to a full day.

They are currently in a coarse soil composed of coir, peat, bark and kyodama so I think the drainage should be reasonable.
 
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Coir, bark and peat are on the high side of the water retention spectrum.
My JBP are in inorganic rock soils with some cow dung and that's just too wet for them.
Scots pine however, doesn't care a single bit.

I'm not implying you should change the soil right now, but it's good to keep in mind that water-related issues might occur in the future because of the soil components. If it suddenly wilts and the trunk collapses, it's most likely that the plant has been kept too wet.

Good luck with this one! I can highly recommend you get some more seeds and get some more stuff growing. Spread your chances of success ;-)
 
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Thanks for that, I will bear it in mind. The pots they are in at the moment are very shallow, so they do dry out quite easily and I'm only watering when they are dry all the way through.

However, when they are re-potted in future, I will try and get a less water-retaining soil. The only other soil I have is akadama, but that's pretty water-retaining. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good soil mix for the future?
 
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You need to read a bit on substrate/soil mixtures, Most of people will make their own mix using different ingredients.
You are getting into derangement grounds now......as many opinions as many people.
For trees in development i used Sanicat Pink cat litter, its cheap, fast draining and hold some water and nutritions its very good, its mixed with perlite/potting grit and some mulched bark, all sifted of course.
Here is a good video to watch
 
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Does anyone have a recommendation for a good soil mix for the future?
Oh yes, but that's a matter of much debate. We all prefer different properties based on our climate, money, time, accessibility and a few hundred other factors. What works for Anthony in the Indies, doesn't work for me in the Netherlands.
A good soil, no matter the location, is dry within a few days and lets in a lot of air, it should also be capable to hold some nutrients. That's the general rule we have to abide to. You have roughly 80 ingredients to pick from to achieve that.
It's pretty easy to imagine that everyone has their own 'perfect mix' and is willing to defend it.
If there's a bonsai club in or around your area, I'd suggest you ask around; they've done the trial and error for you already.
 
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They're all good suggestions.

I've seen Bonsai classes advertised at Herons Bonsai (a shop near-ish where I live). I might book a course on pine bonsai and see what they have to say.
 
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Oh gosh, Peter is very impressive! I didn't realise Herons was so prestigious!

I shall definitely have to brush up on my bonsai knowledge!
 
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Oh dear, the seedling in my original picture is looking a bit wilted this evening. Perhaps the transition from inside to outside was too much. He's been in partial shade all day.

The tip of seedling still looks healthy but the outer pine leaves have drooped considerably. I fear it is the beginning of the end ...
 
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The seedlings just died. Sad times.

Oh well, if I decide to grow seeds again, I'll go for something easier. It was fun and I learnt a lot.
 

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