Bonsai from Seed

A quick article on growing a Bonsai from Seed

Tree Seeds

First thing you need to do is select your tree seed. Beginners should try and collect seed from local grown trees before trying challenging native and non-native species. These trees would be used to the locate climate. The easiest to grow is Horse Chestnut.

For those who work with nature, you can wait until the Autumn\Fall before sowing. If you don’t want to wait until then see propagation section. But for those who enjoy working with nature see below.


As described above the best time to sow seeds is in the autumn so we can keep with natures cycle.


1. Pick out a pot approximately 15 cm or a seed tray
2. Place a fine layer of stones on the base
3. Next put together the following soil mixture. For beginners I would suggest using John Innes No:2 with 20% Horticultural sand.
4. Place the soil mixture in your container
5. Use a dibber (gardening tool) or a stick to create small channels on top of the soil
6. Place the seed or seeds on the channel
7. Cover with a layer of soil
8. Next water using a fine rose spray (You don’t want to disturb the seeds)

Also, remember to pre-soak your seed before planting.

So, what’s next?

After your seed has sprouted, place it in a bright location and keep the soil moist.

Never let seedlings dry out

In the summer months feed your seedlings. After a year you can transplant your Tinytree to a bigger pot.

When your tree looks hardy (thick trunk). You can start the early stages of Bonsai training.

About Paul Masterson

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  1. What is John Innes No. 2 soil which you refer to using to grow bonsai seed along with 20% horticultural sand? Thank you for this information. If it is not readily available do you know a comparable soil or a formula for making up my own?

    • Hi David

      John Innes No:2 is a potting compost, whch is made up from a mixture of loam, peat and sand using the following ratio (7 parts Loam, 3 parts Peat and 2 parts Sand). I make my own loam by placing cut grass sods upside down on top of each other for a year and then add horticultural sand. My own preference is not to use peat. I will put together an article on soil recipes.

      I forgot to mention in the article seedling compost, which can be used. I always add sand or 2 mm fine stones for Conifers. Conifers prefer good drainage. If you require to stratify your seeds use Perlite.



  2. …Where to buy John Innes No:2 with 20% Horticultural sand?

    • Hi Johnny

      You will have to buy the Horticultural sand seperately and then mix by hand. I normally do 4 parts soil to 1 part sand. A part could be equal to a handful. Overtime you will get a feel for the soil and will be able to judge the mixture by feel.

      Some seedling require more sandypebble (Golden Gem) soil. I tend to place Larix or Picea in this type of soil.


      • Thanks Paul..
        So I will go out tomorrow to get those Horticultural sand (Could get in any plant shop?)
        So what soils should i get to mixed the four?

        Thanks again!

  3. Johnny

    The best places to buy horticultural sand is the large garden centers or specialist shops. Places like Woodies or Mackies. A small bag would cost about €6…

    For mature seedlings:
    B&Q’s own branded bonsai soil is very good. If you require a specialist bonsai soil try Akadama. Made from Volcanic rock it will break down over time and is great for drainage.

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