The best medium for starting seeds.

M. Frary

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#1
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?
 

Bonsai Nut

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#2
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.
 
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#3
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
 
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#4
I always heard "sharp sand," but I am interested to hear more answers as I have pretty terrible luck (skills) germinating seeds in general.
 

Anthony

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#5
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
 
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#6
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.
 
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#8
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.
 
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#9
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?
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;)
 
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#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. .............
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.
 
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Bonsai Nut

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#11
Something like this but with sphagnum moss sprinkled over the top ? 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 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.
 

M. Frary

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#12
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.
This is good to know since the Scots pine seeds need cold stratification.
 
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#13
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.
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.
 
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#15
Home Depot Sterilized Childrens Play Sand by the bag is one source.
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.
 
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#17
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:
View attachment 170338
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.
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.
 
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#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.
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.
 

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Bonsai Nut

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#20
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.
When you cut the seedling for radial roots, where exactly do you cut? Do you cut once only?
 

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