New Black Pine sprouts! What do I do now?...

swoody_gardnerJanuary 18, 2010

Hello everyone! New member, and first-time poster to GW here. I have recently become interested in Bonsai, and had received a gift this past holiday season of a Bonsai starter's kit. It came with Black Pine seeds which I have since sprouted, and am happy to announce that I am now the proud owner of two new Black Pines which I am hoping to make into a pair of very nice bonsai trees.

Now then, I am curious where I should go from here. I have been trying to read up a bit more on bonsai and the black pines in more detail, but I still have a couple questions.

First, (please don't bash me for it) I sprouted the seeds in potting soil. I added some water, and covered them with a sheet of plastic to keep in the moisture until the seeds sprouted (2-3 weeks). Now that they are above the surface (.5"-1" tall now) I'm wondering what the next step should be. I am planning on planting these in a mixture of 50/50 pumice and akadama. Does this sound good for my climate and these trees? I'm obviously very open to suggestions as these will be my first bonsai trees.

Secondly, how long should I wait until I re-pot these with good bonsai soil? Are they ready to go now since they're growing, or should I let them mature a bit more in the potting soil first?

Thirdly, I had come across the idea somewhere that it is traditional/purist in Japan/China to grow bonsai trees in 100% sand - is this true? Would black pines fare well in sand only? I would really like to learn more about the history and traditional side of bonsai, and I would really prefer to go that route with my trees.

I would truly appreciate any and all help/advice/ideas that you may want to share about anything you have ideas on (climate, soil, . Again, these being my first bonsai, I am hoping to learn a lot through this process!

Sorry for the long post, but thank you all in advance!


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Also, if anyone has suggestions for other bonsai forums which are both knowledgeable and active, I would be very glad to hear suggestions :)

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 1:25PM
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First, "sand" in a lot of bonsai books originating in the east actually means 'river sand', which is very small pebbles like you'd get in a river bed, but don't rush out looking for them over here as they don't equate to what's over there. Sand as we know it, however, is definitely not a good idea for various reasons. Secondly, instead of pumice, I'd add some organics, bits of pine bark mulch of 1/8-1/16" size, but not acquired 'wild', better to go with some from a nursery or even a bagged Orchid Mix (tho' you'd have to break up those soft wood pieces). Instead of Akadama, which is expensive, you can use Turface, more readily available and cheaper.

Unfortunately, Chicago is too cold to just leave blk pines out all year, so they weren't a great choice, but there are various options you might look into for winter protection in future (don't even think about putting them out this yr). I say all this because you may not realize that no pines will survive any length of time indoors (except, hopefully, your seedlings, til late spring) and must live outdoors for life. Pines of any kind are definitely not beginner material anyway, so good luck with the future of them, Your best bet for 'potting' would be a training box - simulates in-ground growing better than any pot but is still portable, though it's too soon to even put them in one of those. What is really important now is to keep them in a cool, very airy place with lots of humidity - not sprayed on but either on stones in a wide tray of water that never, ever touches the pot bottom, or even a cool mist humidifier. They won't be ready for 'bonsai' training for 3-5 years at least, so you'll have to do what you can to keep them alive that long. Go to for very good advice about other aspects of keeping and training them.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 3:20PM
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Thanks for all of the great advice, larke! I'm definitely taking notes on all of this. I bookmarked Evergreen Garden Works for now, and I'll be sure to read it over in depth when I get the chance.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 11:57PM
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Hey 'swoody_gardener'.
I was thinking, to help your Black Pine survive, why don't you put it in a green house to keep a suitable temperature for your Pine. If you don't own one just put a Plastic bag over it with some holes. This allows it to get full sun outside without freezing to death.
Hope it helps.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 5, 2010 at 2:01AM
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I realize that this post is old, but I'm having trouble finding specific answers to my questions, so thanks for humoring me. I received a "Bonsai Starter Kit" (I newb) that included Japanese Black Pine seeds. I sprouted the seeds, which look lovely, but I have no idea what to do with them now. Do I repot them individually? They are currently about 1 week to 1 1/2 weeks past sprouting. They are reaching about 2-3 inches tall. 1 or 2 of them have shed their seeds and opened their needles. What now? Please help. I need specific instructions or direction to where I can find specific instructions for a beginner. I have come to understand (since undertaking this effort) that this may not have been the best variety for a beginner, but I am good at following direction, and I am completely open to instruction. Thanks for any and all advice. I'm really looking forward to getting these seeds off to the right start, and I can't wait to see what they become.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 1:14AM
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Yes, repot them individually. I suggest, however, that you look at various sites and books re what to pot them into, and where to locate them afterward. You haven't posted your growing zone, so it's hard to advise about various aspects. Go to -

for the best advice online and get a consensus of different answers before rushing off to do anything.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2014 at 6:37AM
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