If you enjoy this site, please visit these sponsors:

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Seed #14 - Secondary Leaves

Still no branches. I knew these grew slowly, but expected more from the young seedlings.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Seed #4 - Eight Cotyledons

So far, I've seen anywhere from four to eight cotyledons. These little guys are so aggressive to sprout, but in adulthood, they'll grow very slowly. In the wild, they may live thousands of years old, and stay relatively small.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No Shortage of Sprouts

If it turns out that all of my bristlecones sprout, I don't think I'll be surprised. I do think that the real challenge with these little guys is going to start once they've sprouted branches and a stronger root system. From everything I've read, they're not too welcoming to excessive watering, and aren't the beginner's tree. I think with (hopefully) more than twenty to work with, I'll have a few living xmas trees in the years to come.

Seed #1 - Seven Cotyledons

For as little as I expected from my bristlecones, they've really impressed. They shoot long, rigid radicles, sprout aggressively, and open up between five to eight cotyledons, all within a couple weeks.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Seed #16 - Outside Seed Sprout

As with seed #15, this little guy really surprised me. I had all but given up on the outside seeds, switching to the indoor baggie method for the rest of my bristlecone seeds. Apparently they're not doing as badly as I thought. I guess I shouldn't be surprised - bristlecones are known for drought tolerance and growing in unforgiving climates. It was interesting to see five cotyledons too - I haven't seen this with any of my other tree seedlings yet.

Seed #15 - Outside Seeds Sprout

I really didn't expect any of my outdoor bristlecones to sprout, since I've been watering them sporadically. I never hold out too much hope for sprouts with seed coats, but I'm still very excited to have any success at all outside.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Fourteen Germinations - What a Surprise!

I originally thought I could grow bristlecone pines by planting untreated seeds directly into well-drained, rocky soil. After a couple of weeks, there's been no activity in their pots. I still had twenty-five seeds left, so a little over a week ago, I decided to try the usual route - the baggie method (pre-germinating the seeds in wet coffee filters). I really didn't expect to see any of the seeds germinate, but apparently they do very easily. Of my twenty-five seeds, fourteen have strong radicles, and several other are almost ready to be planted.

These radicles were very different from the other seeds I've worked with so far - very straight and rigid. Rather than planting these in the well-drained soil immediately, again, I'm going the usual route - cel-packs of seed-starting soil. After they sprout and grow their first season's branches, I'll move them into the rocky soil. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to keep these outside for the winter, so it looks like I might end up with somewhere near twenty indoor, living xmas trees... I'd better have a little talk with my wife...

Seed #14 - Radicle

Seed #13 - Radicle

Seed #12 - Radicle

Seed #11 - Radicle

Seed #10 - Radicle

Seed #9 - Radicle

Seed #8 - Radicle

Seed #7 - Radicle

Seed #6 - Radicle

Seed #5 - Radicle

Seed 4 - Radicle

Seed #3 - Radicle

Seed #2 - Radicle

Seed #1 - Radicle

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Getting Started...

This is my first attempt at growing bristlecone pines from seed. I couldn't find very much documentation online to help me get started, so I'm not expecting stellar results from this trial run. From what I did read on message boards, these aren't the best trees for the novice to try to grow. Of course that's all this novice needs to hear to get excited - now I have a challenge!

Bristlecones are native to western United States at high altitude, and can outlive any known organism on the planet. The current record-holder is a tree named Methuselah, which is believed to be over 4,700 years old! They need well-drained soil, and very little water. It'll be a challenge not to over-water these little guys.

Based on recommendations in online bonsai message boards, I used the following soil mixture:
  • 40% Hoffman Bonsai Soil Mix (expanded shale, sand pebble, aged pine bark, TURFACE)
  • 40% Desert Sand
  • 20% Hoffman Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
The mixture is very gritty, feeling more like sand than soil. I planted three seeds in each of my eight small pots. The pots are each six inches in diameter, and about the same in depth. I've put them on my deck under a glass table, and am going to try to forget about them, only spraying a small amount of water over the mixture every 1-2 weeks.

I'm hoping to see a few sprouts after a few weeks, but wouldn't be surprised if nothing happened between now and then. Bristlecones are very slow-growing trees, so this will really test my patience!