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Gnome
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Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Matt,
So for my blackpines seeds, I got some $3.99 seed starter, and I should just put the seeds in the tray spots, keep them uncovered and watered, away from full sun (right?) and pray they all stay alive right?
What is the seed starter composed of? Primarily peat I would wager. If so my next question is how long do you intend to leave them in the starter mix?

If you intend to re-pot them quickly you might be all right with that product, and if you intend to follow the method that I outlined above all of the old roots will be removed anyway.

If, on the other hand, you want to leave them alone for the season you will need to start with pots that are large enough and provide a mix that has excellent drainage, which the starter mix probably does not. Perlite is a good component for seed mixes and is readily available.

If you follow the second method you will need to do a fair amount of work on the roots at the next re-potting. You will need to remove the taproot and arrange the roots you leave in a radial pattern.

By cutting the roots off this year and then treating them like cuttings you are really way ahead of the curve in producing a good nebari for the future bonsai. As i noted above this is not without some drawbacks as you will surely lose a good percentage of them. I lost some in the seed flat and about 40% of the remaining ones due to the root chop. But I feel that it was worth it to ensure good quality rootage. Then again I started with a lot more seeds that were collected for free so I was not so concerned about loss.

Norm

Bonsaimatt
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humm.. Good points. I'll have to think of what I want to do. I got my seeds in on sunday! The package says to 24 hours water, then 60 days, then plant. I'm sure you know the package, imported by dallas gardens. Is this the right time of year to start?

alexp
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Thats an incredible deal for flats! I only have one tree, so not much need for them at this point, but I will have to keep that in mind for when I decide to start from seeds.

Bonsaimatt
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yeah they are pretty nice, the clear plastic lid closes evenly across unlike most plastic stuff. I don't know how strong they are against outside weather, but they look strong. I'll post that info when I get it :)

oh yeah, the spaces for each plant are about 1 - 1.5 inches across and maybe 2 inches deep. Great for starting life I guess!

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Matt,
The package says to 24 hours water, then 60 days, then plant
It is my understanding that Black Pines do not require a stratification/cold chilling period in order to germinate. The Bonsai Today book on pines suggests keeping them in a cool dry place until planting time. Soaking them for several days then planting. I have successfully germinated another two needle pine variety (Scots Pine) this way.
Is this the right time of year to start?
I really prefer to start seeds outside when the weather is warm enough. I feel that there is not a lot to gain by starting a few months early with a project that will take decades to come to fruition. Our homes are really ill suited to this activity. This is not to say that it cannot be done but you will need good supplemental lighting. I like to grow seedlings in larger groups and this is another reason that I prefer to take the natural route, I simply don't have enough room or inclination to grow a large quantities of seedlings inside when outside takes so much less work and is better for the trees in the long run.

Norm

Bonsaimatt
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yeah I took a few out of the bag, put them in water til 10:00pm tonight, then all the pines (maybe not 1 or 2) will go into the fridge for 60 days (14 apr) it should be warmer by then. The others will go into soil now, and the other half of the bag is waiting until later. So this way I can do all three :) and see what works best.

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Matt,
So this way I can do all three and see what works best.
Certainly cannot argue with that, make sure to keep us posted on what you learn.

Norm

Bonsaimatt
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will do. Thanks dude!

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