alisios
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germinated seeds - (Velvet Mesquite )

Hello - This could be posted in another forum, but since these will be destined for Bonsai, I'll post this here... I've never done this before so I'm quite surprised this has worked... so far :)

As an experiment, I gathered some (bean pods) seeds from the Velvet Mesquite trees in my yard last fall - About 3 days ago, I placed the seeds in some sprouting cups, watered them, covered them and put them on top of the refrigerator... I forgot about them, and today I looked and 4 of them have sprouted! Man that was fast!

I was hoping to get a little time to gather more info, but the baby's water has broken... so here I am... what do I do now?? Wait until they're bigger I guess.. put them in light now? huh... thanks for the info - I never even tried to sprout my own flowers, et al...

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/velevtsprout.jpg[/img]

Man, if it's this easy to germinate mesquite, I'll have to do more for sure - I have a few seedlings that I pulled out of my yard over the summer, but generally they are really hard to harvest from the wild...

btw, these sprouts are way larger than what I've seen come out of my yard - could there have been something else in the soil?? :shock:

Thanks again!

opabinia51
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Put the seedlings under a grow light or they may become "leggy"


Don't overwater them, just keep the soil moist. You can fertilize them with an organic fertilizer so as not to burn their tender little roots. I'd recommend Kelp meal as it is a slow realease fertilizer and you won't have to worry about reapplying it until it is time to pot up your little seedlings.

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alisios,
what do I do now?? Wait until they're bigger I guess.. put them in light now? huh.
Opa is quite right these seedlings need to be placed in a bright location ASAP. In fact these two are perhaps already a bit on the leggy side, they have elongated in the search for adequate lighting. You'll probably get some more soon so don't worry too much about these two. If you retained any seeds it might be better to start some more this spring outside, they'll do much better.

I always prefer to start outside when possible, this takes a lot of the hassle out of the process. I do have a small flat of Pomegranates now but that is out of necessity. It is my understanding that the seeds should not be allowed to dry out and I had to plant them while they were still fresh. I have them under fluorescent tubes and keep them no further than six inches away from the tubes. I have them on for 16 hours and off for 8.
btw, these sprouts are way larger than what I've seen come out of my yard - could there have been something else in the soil?
I suppose it is possible that you have some interlopers in your pots. If you have not grown from seeds before you may not be aware of the phenomena of cotyledons or "seed leaves". Many plants produce an atypical set of leaves as they first emerge from the soil. Subsequent leaves will be more representative of the adult form.

I have been using the "fines" that are leftover when I sift my bonsai soil for seedlings and cuttings. This is essentially a miniature version of my bonsai mix. Smaller than my regular mix but coarser than what you have shown.

There is an interesting technique that is described in the Bonsai Today Pine book from Stone Lantern. It describes a method where the roots of new seedlings are removed entirely and they are then treated basically as cuttings. This is supposed to encourage a more uniform, radial root system. I have used this technique with some Scots Pine seedlings that I started in 2006. As I recall I lost nearly 40% of the seedlings. Although I have since transplanted them I can't say with any certainty if it was worth it as that was the one and only time I grew this species from seed.

At any rate when you do pot them up take the opportunity to begin to improve the roots. Perhaps the tap root can be shortened to encourage laterals. If one root is too high, or low, compared to the rest it would be best to remove it. Every time you re-pot a tree is an opportunity to improve the roots. This is one of the advantages of growing from seed, you have more control over the future nebari.

This is of course going to be a long term project. I have some Crab Apple and Barberry seedlings that spent their first two years in pots getting them to a size where they are not so vulnerable. They are now in the ground and will remain there for several years where they should put on better growth.

Norm

alisios
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Thanks Gnome and opabinia!

I did get a grow light florescent and put them under it. You are probably right that these two are a bit leggy, but 4 more have sprouted since. They are still in the little tray with the light hovering right above them (around 2 inches). I wrapped 2 sides of this tray with foil in case that may help...

I can't seem to find kelp meal around here, do you know of any good online sources?
If you retained any seeds it might be better to start some more this spring outside, they'll do much better.
I'm impatient! :wink: I'll get them outside during the day...

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alisios,

Here is a vendor that offers a variety of organic fertilizers:
[url]https://www.agorganics.com/productcat/Fertilizers/13.html[/url]
I did not see Kelp meal there but they have plenty of other options.

Norm

arboricola
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Look here for kelp meal and a 1000 other things..
https://homeharvest.com/orgfert.htm
Phil...

alisios
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thanks again! - I see the second link also has Mychorrazai - which I've been trying to find for some manzanita -

:D

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Yes, that is a great idea. Many plants (especially trees) will not be healthy without their endemic symbiont.


Of course, one excellant reason for using trees from your region to bonsai is that you can simply use soil from your region that would already contain all of the flora and fauna that your tree would need.

Do a little research on the web to make sure that you are getting the correct species of fungus to use as a myccorhizal symbiont for your tree before leaping and buying whatever myccorhiae this company is selling. If you give me the genus ans species of your tree I could do a peer reviewed journal search for you.

alisios
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Well, these seedlings are Prosopis velutina ( Velvet mesquite ) and the manzanita are Arctostaphylos pungens - thanks! A "peer reviewed journal search" sounds so official! :)

opabinia51
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Okay, I'll try to look into this on Thursday. I'll write it down so I don't forget. But try the internet as well.

Thursday is full of meetings so, if I don't get around to it until Friday, don't get worried. I'm on the case. :wink:

(I don't have access to all the databases on my computer anymore so, I'll have to make a trip to the University) :)

alisios
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Gnome wrote:If you retained any seeds it might be better to start some more this spring outside, they'll do much better.

I always prefer to start outside when possible, this takes a lot of the hassle out of the process.
Next time I will wait a little closer to spring - it's just that I didn't know how long (or if) they would workt... I guess it was a lot quicker than I thought!

Of the fifteen seeds I planted, 12 of them have sprouted - so I guess I'll have to do the indoor light thingy for a little bit - things start to warm up a bit in a few weeks - so I'll get them outside then...

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alisios,
Next time I will wait a little closer to spring - it's just that I didn't know how long (or if) they would workt... I guess it was a lot quicker than I thought!
Since you now know that the seed is both viable and quick to germinate I suggest you hold of until it is warm enough to sow them outside. Considering the length of time such a project will take there is little to be gained by starting inside a month earlier.

At times there may be exceptions. Some seed must not be allowed to dry out or they will not germinate. I believe that Pomegranates fall into this category. I have some under fluorescents that I planted last October when the fruit was purchased. Lacking such a reason to start inside, it really is better to start outside.

Why not try a little experiment? Even if you intend to start a new batch inside later in the season, keep some that will be grown outside exclusively. I would wager that by the end of the season you will not be able to tell the difference. The "outside" group may even end up healthier.

Norm

alisios
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opabinia51 wrote:I'd recommend Kelp meal as it is a slow realease fertilizer and you won't have to worry about reapplying it until it is time to pot up your little seedlings.
I have Kelp meal now and it's in a granular form - does this dissolve in water and if so, how much should I put in a gallon of water for instance.. ?

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Just sprinkle some ontop of the soil arund your seedlings. It is a slow release fertilzer so, you won't have to add any until you pot up your seedlings. When you do pot up your seedlings, add a handful of Kelp meal to your soil mix and mix it in really well.

alisios
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Okay - things are going great - so far!

Since they are all growing well, I believe they all have enough light to keep them going for now... There's about 3500 lumens hitting in an area of about 18"x12" area all wrapped in foil...

My next question is when will I pot them up? I unfortunately started them in of those little "six pack" garden store size containers - :cry: - not thinking that this would actually work...

Secondary leaves are all out and they are around 2-3 inches tall now...

Thanks all!

C

these are the first 2 "leggy" ones:

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/leggy.jpg[/img]

opabinia51
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My advice is to pot them up when their root balls fill their little pots.

Try fertilizing them with diluted liquid seaweed fertilizer until then.

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alisios,

I don't know for sure as this is a foreign species to me. Judging from the amount of top growth they seem fairly vigorous, perhaps now. Since you have these two and some more coming along why not unpot one of these and see.

Every time I re-pot, yes even seedlings, I take the opportunity to work on the root system. In such a small plant obviously you can't do much but a well placed snip now can do wonders for improving the root spread. If you have a long tap-root, with numerous laterals, remove a portion of it to favor the laterals. If the laterals are long they could be trimmed a bit as well to encourage ramification. Perhaps you will find one root that is higher than the rest, this one could be removed. You want to begin to get all of your roots at the same level. They will probably be in the new container for a whole season so allow for a bit of room to grow. Once I get to this stage I use my usual bonsai mix.

In short, just jump right in and start doing it. Experience will soon tell you how much abuse this species can take

Norm

alisios
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Thanks Norm and Opa!

Well, since this is a great experiment, all I can do is gather data right? So - I took one of the leggy ones and decided to up pot it...

Here's how it went... I removed the plant from it's little container and I was surprised how large the tap root was already - There were little fine feeder roots, but they weren't very big at all :?

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/potup02.jpg[/img]

I remember seeing this on the ones I harvested from outside and also lost all the seedlings where I cut the tap root.. but we'll see... this is all an experiment, right?

So snip snip I go... Most of the feeders looked the same so I picked a spot that looked like there were a few feeders above the cut... I guess the tap root needs to be cut or it will wind around and get root bound, right?

Anyway ( I kept the roots wet with a spray bottle )

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/potup03.jpg[/img]

Next here's my soil... ynot will be proud :D It consists of Shultz "Aquatic Plant Soil" made by Profile - I believe it's Turface repackaged, Pine Bark (ground up a little in a coffee grinder ), lava rocks, long fiber sphagnum moss (also ground up in a coffee grinder), and a handful of sifted potting soil... ( I left Diatomaceous Earth out because of the Shultz stuff)

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/potup01.jpg[/img]

Then I placed the seedling in the new and bigger pot and sprinkled a little mychorrizae around the roots (Opabinia would be proud! :D )

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/potup04.jpg[/img]

And here it is... I then watered it with harvested rain water with a small amount of fish emulsion...

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/potup05.jpg[/img]

I really don't know if this will work... I have cut the tap roots off of these guys before and none of them made it - they were pulled from the ground though... We'll see... but I have my doubts... thanks to all for all the great info!

C

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alisios, I'm not an expert on seedlings but to me it seems like you did a great job! As long as you keep the soil moist, watering once or twice a day, I have a good feeling this one will make it. Good luck!

Tom

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alisios,

You should know in a week or so if it is going to hang in there or not. I think it had to be done, look how long the taproot was already. Getting the harsh treatment out of the way now means you won't spend a lot of time on it only to find that it is unsuitable later. If you treat it like a cutting you should have pretty good odds.
I did some Pine seedlings a few years back and cut off all of the roots at this stage. I lost almost 40% but the ones that made it should be much better in the future. If this one fails it does not mean it won't work, one individual may not be representative. Make sure to let us know what happens.

Norm

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Keep us updated Alsiosis, this is indeed very interesting. I like your photos as well.

Hey if you find something that works for you, use it. As I have always said: ask ten different gardeners one question; get ten different answers!

However, I think the mycorrhizal route is a good one if you trees associate with Arbuscular Mycchorhizae.

alisios
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Well - I managed to trim all the tap roots of these little buggers, and so far they haven't skipped a beat - which is surprising to me, actually - I've tried some soil experiments and all seem to be viable candidates:

2 - DE and ground up pine bark
4 - Turface, pine bark, lava rocks, DE, sphagnum moss, handful potting soil
4 - Lava Rocks, pine bark
2 - lava rock, granite, pine bark


So far, they are doing really well, I think - I'm not so sure the mychorrizae is doing anything, but since none have perished, it could be the way to go - especially in the superstitious category...

I also am going to cut a few of these really soon to see if ramification could be a possibility this early... I'm a bit nervous about this though... should I wait?

pic of them now:
[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/mesquiterepots.jpg[/img]

I'll post some pics of the new light box I made in the florescent sticky thread! These guys will need some sunlight ASAP, but for now this is all I can do except some afternoons in a bay window... I started them too early...

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alisios,

They are looking good. I was surprised to see that you decided to do them all, glad it worked out. When I saw that there was a new post to this thread I was afraid you were going to tell us that your experiment of early root pruning was a failure and that I had steered you wrong. After all every species is different. I'm glad I was wrong.
I also am going to cut a few of these really soon to see if ramification could be a possibility this early... I'm a bit nervous about this though... should I wait?
Again, I can't say with any certainty but by the looks of them I suspect that they will respond favorably. Why not try pick a few out and remove the tips. If you can get low branching early it will help to thicken the trunk low. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you can do much in the way of styling for the first few years, just grow them out.

Norm

alisios
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Well, recently (as in the last few days) I've noticed some yellowing on the lower leaves - I'm not quite sure what it's about - It could be how the plant throws energy up to the higher leaves, which seem fine - or it could be the start of their demise - I'll be watching for sure...

I'm just not familiar with the way this plant normally grows - so it's a learning...

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/MesqYellow01.jpg[/img]

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/MesqYellow02.jpg[/img]

I hope at least one makes it...

opabinia51
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Wow, they look great! Congratulations. Be sure to stick around and help others who are growing trees from seed in the future.

alisios
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opabinia51 wrote:Be sure to stick around and help others who are growing trees from seed in the future.
I'm not going anywhere! :wink:

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alisios,

I don't find it unusual for the seed leaves to faid rather quckly once their job is done. As far as the others, have you provided any sort of nutrition for them either in your mix or an initial feeding? It may be a deficiency.

Also remember that you have been kind of rough on them so they may not all make it. I lost nearly 40% of my Scots Pine seedlings when I pruned the roots in a similar fashion, but I think it will be worth it in the longrun.

You have more seeds right? you can always do another round a little later in the season.

Norm

alisios
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Well this batch of mesquite is going well -

Outside, things having been beginning to bud around here for about a week now, and I've been able to get them outside during the day since it's a great 60+ degrees - full sun is what these babies need! At night around 6pm, I bring them in and give another 4 hours under the lights...

I've cut the tops off of a few of them and they've begun to put out new branches - :shock: I'm surprised by how well they've done so far - since I ain't got no green thumb!

New Branches:

[img]https://www.robertcory.com/webdata/mesquiterami.jpg[/img]

ps - this whole process has also inspired me to go out and trim all the mesquite on my property - the trees have really needed it for a few years now, so now I feel like I'm making "life size" bonsai :)

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alisios,

Looking good. Now that you made the initial cuts of the roots and encouraged some low branching you are pretty much done for a while. You will need to establish a feeding program to encourage good growth.
this whole process has also inspired me to go out and trim all the mesquite on my property - the trees have really needed it for a few years now, so now I feel like I'm making "life size" bonsai

I really don't know if this will work... I have cut the tap roots off of these guys before and none of them made it - they were pulled from the ground though... We'll see... but I have my doubts... thanks to all for all the great info!
I take it you have tried to collect these in the past without much success. Will you try again? Perhaps you handled them too roughly too soon. Often collected trees are left alone for several years in order to provide a recovery period.

If they will back-bud on old wood you may be able to make some good bonsai from collected material. Find a smaller one that has no real potential and cut it back hard to only old wood and see how it responds.

Norm

alisios
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Gnome wrote:You will need to establish a feeding program to encourage good growth.


This is the unknown to me. I thought about taking some soil samples of the dirt outside where mesquite grow crazy! I know there is a high iron content as the soil outside is red - my guess would be it's more alkaline. The question is, what do you feed a plant that seems to grow on nothing in the wild? hmmm...
Gnome wrote:I take it you have tried to collect these in the past without much success. Will you try again? Perhaps you handled them too roughly too soon. Often collected trees are left alone for several years in order to provide a recovery period.
I will try again - I have yet to spot a specimen and still remain nervous as the record length for a mesquite taproot is 160 feet!

I, however, have my eye on some Creosote :) !

ps - spring is here and I'm very excited! The cottonwoods have begun to bud out..

alisios
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