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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!