Bonsai is an art form that has been around for ages. It is a Japanese term for the practice of growing miniature trees in pots. Around the world, similar methods are used to grow and train trees, for example, the Chinese Penjing.
Pine trees are easy to grow and a favorite for many bonsai lovers. In this article, we will specifically talk about growing pine cone bonsai.
All you need to do is have all the materials required, follow the correct steps, and pay attention to the right factors that affect the growth of your miniature trees. Let’s get started.
Factors That Affect The Growth Of Your Pine Cone Bonsai
Your pine cone tree will do exceptionally well in sunny weather. The tree requires long hours of sunlight daily to reach its full growth.
One particular indicator is the needles on it that will continue to grow longer, hinting that it needs more sunlight.
The watering schedule is another critical factor when growing a pine cone bonsai tree.
You need to check the top layer of the soil (at least two inches of it). If it is dry, you can water the tree moderately.
Be mindful that the tree cannot withstand being water-logged. Watering it every two-three days should be more than enough.
3. The Right Pot
The pot you choose to grow your miniature tree will also affect its growth. Due to their long roots, a deep pot is required to plant them.
Using a shallow pot will cause the roots to dry out, resulting in the plant dying prematurely.
A good portion of bonsai trees need well-draining soil; the same goes for pine cone trees. Mix equal parts of akadama ( pH level of 6.5-6.9 ), lava rock, organic potting compost, and pumice.
This well-draining mix will prevent the tree from getting waterlogged. If you do not wish to do this, you can find premixed bonsai soil at garden centers.
Fertilization plays a significant role in the appearance of your pine cone tree. It is best done from early spring to late autumn with an organic bonsai fertilizer every two weeks.
During the winter, reduce fertilization to once a month.
If you live in an area with low humidity, you must mist your tree at least three times a day. This provides enough moisture for it to grow.
You could also keep the tree near your kitchen or bathroom, allowing it to absorb moisture from the air. A humidity tray also works well, for that matter.
How To Grow Pine Cone Bonsai Tree?
There are two easy methods of growing a pine cone bonsai tree. One involves using the whole pine cone with the seeds still in them.
The second method involves extracting the seeds and sowing them in a pot.
Let’s begin with the first one.
You need a pine cone that still has seeds— the fresh and unopened ones serve the purpose best. The seeds are already gone with the opened cones.
Secondly, opt for large cones.
The next step is to wash the collected cone to get rid of any pests and pathogens.
You can bath the cone in a lime-sulfur solution before moving on to the next step.
After washing, you will need to dry the cone.
Place it in a cool and dry place, and soon enough, it will open up.
Next, place your pine cone in already mixed and prepared soil. Do it so that only the bottom of the cone is buried.
When you do this, the seeds would be able to sprout without getting lost in the soil.
Water it every other day or when the soil feels dry. Do not wet the pine cone directly, as this will cause it to develop mold or even rot.
Within 2-4 weeks, your pine cone bonsai would start growing.
The second way to grow your pine cone bonsai is by separating the seed from the cone. Follow these steps:
You can get pine cone seeds from fallen cones by gently shaking them. The male pine cone seeds are smaller with a more shut scale than the female ones.
The female seeds are the ones commonly planted. Before you begin this step, ensure you’ve completed the first three steps of the previous method.
Gently shake or tap the cone to loosen the seeds. Dry them in a cool place until it’s time to plant them.
You will need to soak them in warm water for about a day to prepare them for germination. This process will also help separate high-quality seeds (they will sink) from the poor ones (they will remain floating).
You can put the remaining seeds in a tight container and place them in the fridge for future use.
The seeds will be planted indoors for the first few weeks in the prepared soil.
Place the seeds in the soil with the pointy head facing downward. At this stage, the pot should be away from sunlight and watered when the top layer of the soil is dry.
When the tree grows to around 12 inches, you can take it outside where it can receive enough sunlight.
Caring For Pine Cone Bonsai Tree
These extra care and tips will ensure your tree grows well and flourishes.
To prevent the bonsai tree from bending out of shape, you need to place wires around the branches to distribute the weight evenly. You should do this during the winter months.
Repotting should not be done often— an interval of 2-5 years is ideal. You should do it, particularly during the spring after the buds swell.
Additionally, the new pot should have adequate drainage and be large enough to accommodate the tree.
This is the act of shaping your pine tree to maintain strong branches. Unwanted needles should be removed from places with poor growth.
A typical time to do this is during spring or autumn.
Pests Affecting Bonsai Trees
1. Spider Mites
Spider mites are tiny insects about 1mm in size. They appear red, tan, or white and prove challenging to eradicate.
You only notice them after the damage has already been done. Webbings around your tree are a pretty good indicator of them lurking around.
Use Neem oil and insecticides to prevent spider mites from infesting your bonsai tree.
You can mix ten parts of water with one part of antibacterial soap and spray the tree.
Aphids are small flies that appear black, white, or green. They usually go for the sap.
Remove the insects and spray the tree with an insecticide once a month. Make sure you spray under the leaves.
Another solution is to use Neem oil. You can spray the liquid onto the tree or use a ball of cotton wool to wipe it down.
Boring caterpillars (borers) pose a severe threat to bonsai trees. They tend to feed on the woody stems and branches and can significantly damage the leaves.
The best solution is to look for them around your tree and remove them manually. You can also use pressurized water to flush them out.
4. Scale Insects
Scale insects have a brown shell-like appearance. They affect the leaves and stem of the bonsai tree, feeding off the dew and sucking the carbohydrates.
If you do not look closely, they may blend in with the tree’s stem.
The most effective solution is to rub 70% alcohol on a cotton wool ball and wipe it down. Do this multiple times a week, along with spraying insecticides to get rid of them.
A bonsai tree has various positive meanings in different parts of the world.
Growing it from seed can also introduce a fresh wave of positivity to your surroundings.
It will take about 2-3 years to mature, which is worth the wait.
I have found gardening to be my calling since being restricted to my apartment. I love studying rare species of plants and giving them a mention on my blog. I also love growing organic vegetables in my backyard.