How to Grow a Bonsai Tree From a Seed


Though many people prefer to buy a bonsai that has already been cultivated, this can be quite expensive due to the tree being transported around the world. Stating your own bonsai from seed can be a long but rewarding process. Junipers and flowering trees, azaleas and pines can all be made into bonsai. The act of growing and shaping bonsai is considered an art by many, so go ahead and tap into your creative side.

Step 1

Plant a few seeds of your choice species in small growing containers and when the seeds grow into small shrubs this is when you can start the bonsai process. Some prefer to purchase a small shrub from a garden center to forego the wait time from seed to shrub. Either way, choose one that has grown a mass of thick narrow branches and a sturdy, thick trunk. This is why you plant several seeds so you can choose which one will make the best bonsai.

Step 2

Tenderly loosen the soil from the ball of roots and untangle them with a root hook. Trim the long ones and ones that grow downward so the plant will better fit into a shallow bonsai dish. Place in pot with a mix of organic matter and coarse grit for good airspace and drainage.

Step 3

Trim twigs off around the base and trunk of the shrub. The amount you clear away will depend on the species and desired effect. Usually clearing the bottom 2 to 3 inches is a good minimum or until you reach the first major branch you wish to keep.

Step 4

Shear the stems of the foliage to shorten the branches. Make clean, careful cuts to avoid cutting into the leaves or needles. This is when you will be creating the overall shape of your bonsai. Usually bonsai are trimmed into a somewhat triangular shape, the top branches being the shortest and progressively getting longer towards the bottom. Remember you can always cut branches shorter, but it takes a while to grow them back so trim your bonsai with reserve.

Step 5

Maintain and continue to shape your bonsai as it grows by creating a twisted trunk. Wiring is a process by which copper aluminum wire is cut to a length of about twice the height of the tree and spiraled around the trunk in a 45 degree angle, snug against the bark. This will influence the way the bonsai grows over time. Trim off leading shoots with fingers or scissors to maintain the size of your tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Concave branch cutter
  • Trimming shears
  • Wire cutters
  • Bud trimming shears
  • Root hook
  • Shallow potting dish


  • American Bonsai Association
  • "Bonsai;" Harry Tomlinson; 1990
Keywords: bosai seed, plant trim, grow tree

About this Author

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.