The best medium for starting seeds.

Discussion in 'Grafting, layering & propagating' started by M. Frary, Dec 7, 2017 at 7:33 AM.

  1. M. Frary

    M. Frary Bonsai Godzilla

    Messages:
    11,147
    Location:
    Mio Michigan
    I bought some mugo pine,scots pine seeds and American elm seeds.
    The elm seeds are easy to figure out. Just toss them in a container with D.E. and you're on your way.
    What's the best soil for starting pine seeds?
     
  2. Avatar

    Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide this ad.
  3. Bonsai Nut

    Bonsai Nut Administrator

    Messages:
    6,072
    Location:
    OC, CA
    You'll probably get a million points of view here. I don't have enough experience to suggest my mix is the "best", but I use an acid planting mix (azalea blend), sand, and fine pumice. Depends a lot on your local water I would imagine...

    The acid mix has rough cut peat and a lot of bark fines. It is not that loamy. Reminds me of decomposed pine bark that was screened to 1/8" particle size.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017 at 8:03 AM
    M. Frary likes this.
  4. Soldano666

    Soldano666 Chumono

    Messages:
    909
    Location:
    Augusta Maine
    I used 1/2 seed starting mix and 1/2 de, lets just say if I diddnt transplant them the would have died, a bunch did. It stayed to damn wet. I switched them to even parts lava, pumice, DE, and bark. My regular bonsai mix. They took off after that. This year I'm only using that and maybe a small layer of chopped spag and some soil fines near the surface to get things going. Also will be doing 3x3 inch cells instead of plugs this year, going to cut out that mid season transplant chore
     
    sorce and M. Frary like this.
  5. MrFancyPlants

    MrFancyPlants Chumono

    Messages:
    806
    Location:
    MD/DC
    I always heard "sharp sand," but I am interested to hear more answers as I have pretty terrible luck (skills) germinating seeds in general.
     
  6. Anthony

    Anthony Masterpiece

    Messages:
    3,797
    Location:
    West Indies [ Caribbean ]
    Mike,

    we normally use the commercial peat moss / perlite blend from Canada
    and add about 1/2 by volume of the 5 mm gravel.

    Start off in the trays that have individual cups [ small type ] and just let them
    pop up after 8 to 10 days.
    This is for J.b.pines.

    After a few months, entry into 4 inch circular clay pots.
    Hope this helps.
    Good Day
    Anthony
     
    dirk hoorelbeke likes this.
  7. dirk hoorelbeke

    dirk hoorelbeke Omono

    Messages:
    1,031
    Location:
    Belgium
    I did it in akadama and in potting soil. Akadama was best, better draining, less chance of damping off. I might ad pumice this time. For starting the seeds it is not that important as long as humidity is correct, it depends on the climate. For the seedling cuttings I used akadama (good rooting, medium growth), perlite (medium roots, vigorous growth), potting soil (lesser root division, good growth), akadama-pumice (good roots, good compact growth). Medium needs to be able to dry out in spring fall and winter, but adequate watering in summer. What medium you use depends on your climate, wintering and watering possibilities. Keep in mind that the depth of the container dictates where the moisture will be. Put akadama in a shallow container and it will stay wet for 2 days. Put it in a Cascade pot and the top cm's will be dry in no time.
     
  8. Victorim

    Victorim Chumono

    Messages:
    646
    Location:
    Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK
    Take a look at the bonsai tonight JBP from seed article. I`m going to go with DE topped with a thin sand layer to start them off.
     
    dirk hoorelbeke likes this.
  9. jeanluc83

    jeanluc83 Omono

    Messages:
    1,078
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I've uses my regular bonsai mix in a tray 2-3" deep with about a 1/4" of play sand on top. After adding the sand I water everything then plant the seeds about a 1/4" deep. If I'm worried about it drying out too much I add a layer of chopped sphagnum on the top.

    I also put the tray right into full sun after planting. I believe the warmth from the sun encourages germination and reduces fungal problems.
     
  10. Would not presume to claim anything other than i get great results from this mix.
    Coarse Pumice drainage layer bottom 1/2 inch, medium pumice next 1/2 inch , then fine pumice mixed with sterelized childrens play sand. 50/50. seeds sowed 1/4 inch deep with a finely shredded light layer of sphagnum moss sprinkled over the top. I sow the seeds in rows approx 1 inch apart. love the anderson flats for propogation of seeds and cuttings. Put the flat up on a couple of flat 1/2 inch sticks to aid drainage and air flow. slight air movement is beneficial to the seeds during germination and helps prevent damping off. I use a small internal computer fan( cheap to obtain and run). I have not found the need for any chemicals but some climates and circumstances may benefit from there use. Note: i move the seedlings to small pots within 8-10 weeks. Generally i am cutting the stem for radial root development at that stage.
    I use Alaskan brand liquid fish fertilizer diluted once a week 1 part to 10 parts water, after the seedling have reached the three week stage, being careful to mist the residue off the seedlings.

    PS: of course the last step cutting for radial root development is not reccommended if trying for largest and fastest growth over six years;)
     
  11. Something like this but with sphagnum moss sprinkled over the top ?
    seed sow.jpg

    Dont remember where the images came from but they are in my JBP folder. I often see info I like and take screenshots and put in a folder until I need the info.;)

    I am currently trying what I have left after sifting my normal bonsai ingredients.
    So I'm using:
    Fine Turface screened and rinsed
    Fine #8822 screened and rinsed
    Fine Pumice screened and rinsed

    bottom 1/2 inch I fill with 5mm red lava rock then fill 3" pot half way and put a 1" pvc pipe (about 3 inches long) in the center then fill the rest of the pot with bonsai soil leaving the pvc pipe sticking out. Then fill the pipe with really fine pumice or play sand and them slowly remove the pvc pipe leaving the center of the pot filled with Pumice or sand. make a hole plant your seed. I have been using fine horticultural vermiculite sprinkled over the top but I might try the sphagnum moss sprinkled over the top next time.

    this is what I am doing for a few seeds I growing now and they seem to be doing well so far.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017 at 11:25 AM
    Bonsai Nut and M. Frary like this.
  12. Bonsai Nut

    Bonsai Nut Administrator

    Messages:
    6,072
    Location:
    OC, CA
    I think the drainage layer may be more important if you are using pots. I use Anderson flats, which have a mesh bottom.

    However the sphagnum moss provides anti-fungal benefits. In the past I have used paper towels in my cold stratification bags, but after reading up on the anti-fungal benefits of sphagnum moss, I'm going with the moss.
     
    theone420 and M. Frary like this.
  13. M. Frary

    M. Frary Bonsai Godzilla

    Messages:
    11,147
    Location:
    Mio Michigan
    This is good to know since the Scots pine seeds need cold stratification.
     
  14. I have also switched to the Sphagnum for cold stratification from the paper towels and it is more effective and easier to check the progress without opening the ziploc bag. I switch to the PVC pipe trick when shifting the root cutting to the small pot. after withdrawing the small pipe section to settle in the fine mixture. I use a piece of wire to poke a hole for the cut stem, insert and water lightly to settle the fine mixture gently around the stem cutting. This is to minimise the damage to the cut and surround the stem ensuring no air pockets. At this stage i use only sterilized childrens play sand within the pipe well area.
    I agree the drainage layer is likely more important in pots. I should note my results have improved since i started raising the anderson flats up a bit for better circulation underneath.
     
    M. Frary and theone420 like this.
  15. Home Depot Sterilized Childrens Play Sand by the bag is one source.
     
    M. Frary likes this.
  16. sparklemotion

    sparklemotion Mame

    Messages:
    123
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I went down a rabbit hole a while back on "sharp sand" and I don't think that what is sold as "play sand" in North America is the same thing.

    The play sand you find at Home Depot and the like around here is very fine. When gardeners talk about "sharp sand" they seem to mean something coarser. I have seen it called "builder's sand" or "construction sand" (but not the Quikrete "All-Purpose Sand"), and "horticultural sand" (though that seems to be an across the pond type thing).

    The play sand that I have looks like the "wrong sand" from this picture:
    sand Wrong vs right.jpg
    Source: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/09/chicken-coop-bedding-sand-litter.html

    Here's a more plant focused article that includes sad results for play and and all-purpose sand: http://mikesbackyardnursery.com/201...e-do-i-find-coarse-sand-for-rooting-cuttings/

    I haven't located a source for "builder's sand" yet (I'm sure the local masonry supply places will have it). I also don't know what the "silica sand" from Mike's Backyard Nursery is.
     
    M. Frary likes this.
  17. Victorim

    Victorim Chumono

    Messages:
    646
    Location:
    Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK
    Does "dead" sphagnum still hold this property?
     
    M. Frary likes this.
  18. You are correct that what is commonly referred to as Builders sand is coarser and often reccomended for Bonsai mix ammendment.
    I am not confusing the two. I am referring to a very specific short term use for germination purpose and sterlized Childrens play sand from Home depot is much finer and works extremely well for the purpose of germination. I do not use it for any other purpose in Bonsai.
     
    M. Frary likes this.
  19. Here are two pictures of a sampling of the over 500 JBP I have germinated in the manner i described. This sample is of three year old JBP that average 1 inch in trunk diameter and were propogated with the stems cut for radial roots.
     

    Attached Files:

    M. Frary likes this.
  20. Bonsai Nut

    Bonsai Nut Administrator

    Messages:
    6,072
    Location:
    OC, CA
    Yes.
     
    Victorim and M. Frary like this.
  21. Bonsai Nut

    Bonsai Nut Administrator

    Messages:
    6,072
    Location:
    OC, CA
    When you cut the seedling for radial roots, where exactly do you cut? Do you cut once only?
     
    M. Frary likes this.

Share This Page