How To Grow Bonsai From Seed (Spruce / Picea Abies)

Did you know? Bonsai trees are not grown from bonsai seeds. In fact, bonsai trees are ordinary plants that are shaped and trained into a new form by pruning and using wires to train the branches. Bonsai trees are intended to look like miniature versions of natural tree formations, aged and weathered by the elements. Many bonsai tree specimens are decades old – some more than a century!

Buzz Words:

Sow; sowing: to plant seed for growth.

Cold stratification: the process of breaking dormancy by simulating a natural environment by exposing seeds to cold and moist conditions to encourage germination.

Cold-hardy: able to survive the effects of cold weather.

How to grow a bonsai tree from seed:

Soak seeds for 24 hours prior to planting to soften the outer seed coat. This will improve chances of successful germination. We recommend using 3-5 seeds per sowing. Our spruce seeds are pre-cold stratified and do not need to be refrigerated prior to sowing. For best results, we recommend growing your spruce trees outside, they grow best when exposed to the 4 natural seasons.

Sowing Instructions:

Sow spruce seeds ¼” deep and lightly cover with growing medium. If starting seeds indoors, place in a warm, bright location with ample air circulation. If starting seeds outdoors, place in a bright, sheltered location. Keep growing medium moist but not overwatered. Spruce seeds will germinate in 1-2 months.

Grow with the flow! Air circulation is just as important as sunshine, water, and growing medium! Proper airflow helps plants develop strong stem and root systems all while keeping pests and fungal issues at bay.

Plant Care Instructions:

Once seedlings develop their second set of needles, begin watering with plant fertilizer mixed at half-strength. Gradually move seedlings into brighter light until they are in full sun (minimum 6 hours per day). Once seedlings are established and have several sets of needles, decrease watering frequency, and allow top layer of growing medium to dry out between waterings. During spring through fall, water once a month with water soluble plant fertilizer mixed according to package instructions; stop feeding and continue watering during winter months while plant is in dormancy. Spruce are cold-hardy and can be left outside in USDA Zones 2-7; however, we recommend bringing your first-year seedlings inside an unheated garage or structure if the temperature will be below freezing for an extended period.

Growing a spruce bonsai tree from seed is fun and rewarding but also requires time and patience. Spruce seedlings will be ready to prune and shape when they are approximately 2 years old. Learn more about how to maintain your bonsai tree here.