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HomeBonsaiRy2Tree2 Bonsai Weblog: Seed Experiment #1

Ry2Tree2 Bonsai Weblog: Seed Experiment #1

This text was presupposed to exit earlier than my final one, however apparently
discovering time to photoshop memes is
a lot simpler than studying analysis articles on acorn germination… Anyhow,
let’s simply fake this text got here out a month in the past so I don’t must
gradual it down by rewriting the introduction.


Supply content material: 12/20/2020

Hellooooooo bonsai world! It’s been a minute since I
posted however I am joyful to report I’m alive and effectively in Ohio. To have a good time
surviving the primary semester of my Ph.D. program, it is solely becoming that my
first weblog submit of 2021 focuses on a bonsai experiment I am designing – the primary
of many I keep in mind.

After all, all through the transfer to Columbus and beginning
graduate college, sustaining my bonsai assortment has remained a precedence even
if new articles and 
movies had been placed on maintain. In
August, I packed my bushes right into a UHaul and drove my trimmed-down assortment
throughout the nation. Since then, I’ve additionally discovered time to scout for native Ohio
yamadori, service bushes for my first native consumer, attend two workshops
Yume-en (Rob Hoffman’s new
bonsai nursery in Marysville, OH), assemble my first develop tent for
overwintering my tropicals, 
acquire new seeds inventory for 2021, and be a part of the Columbus Bonsai
Board for 2021. All of those and extra from my archive might be future weblog
posts so keep tuned!


A younger Brewer’s oak seedling emerges!

In homage to the parallel universe model of me as a plant scientist,
and owing to my very own background in microbiology analysis, I’ve some concepts
for bonsai experiments (paging Dr. Jekyll? No, I’m not fairly there but).
Within the title of studying, these experiments might be public-facing, tutorial
workouts absolutely documented right here on my weblog. Queue the Adam Savage quote
“Keep in mind youngsters, the one distinction between screwing round and science is
writing it down!
 Personally, I’ll ask a query in regards to the intersection of bonsai
and biology/horticulture, overview previous publications to see if different bonsai
hobbyists or plant scientists have already provide you with a solution, and
then if wanted I’ll design my very own experiment to check previous assumptions or
to fill what data void I discover within the archives of bonsai care
practices. I will even attempt to share the experimental design earlier than
carrying them out in order that flaws in my logic might be caught or mandatory
suggestions might be solicited and I’ll in fact share the info right here no
matter the findings. On this method, I can acquire suggestions on the
experimental designs, strategies, and conclusions alongside the best way if others in
our group has perception so as to add. Science 
is finest finished collaboratively, in any case.

The aim of this particular experiment is to test storage situations for early-germinating oak seeds and evaluate the
4 and 12-month survival of these seeds.

Whereas I take pleasure in spending time in nature in search of native yamadori/wild
bonsai, within the title of sustainable bonsai, I’m additionally rising a wide range of
native American species from seed for bonsai to seek out which might be grown
as simply
(as shortly and to as refined of a product) because the well-known bonsai species
from Japan. For a number of species of Japanese origin, they’ve been grown
for bonsai for therefore lengthy that
all the things from establishing engaging roots
to constructing a mature trunk to creating ramified branches is now effectively
understood and streamlined – I’m speaking Japanese black/purple/white pines,
Chinese language/Japanese shimpaku junipers, Japanese maples, and trident maples.
To that finish, after I encountered a small-leaf number of oak in
southern Oregon (see Determine
under), I stored it at the back of my thoughts as a lovely choice till I
lately found a supply to purchase
Quercus garryana var. breweri seeds. These seeds had been bought
from a bulk-seller and have since gone out of inventory; nonetheless, their
arrival included a small inhabitants of early-risers which catalyzed
at present’s experiment. On the eve of an Ohio winter filled with freeze/thaw
cycles and the occasional polar vortex, what ought to be finished for the
long-term survival of oak seeds that germinate early?

Determine 1: The naturally dwarfed leaves of a Brewer’s oak yamadori I
tried amassing in 2017.

            Many species of oak (genus
Quercus) have been studied over time for timber, cork
manufacturing, and conservation functions. Among the many distinctive traits which should
be thought-about when storing and germinating oak seeds, we should acknowledge
that oaks have extremely metabolically energetic seeds which want oxygen and
moisture all through their storage (1). A number of research have verified that acorns that had been dried previous to
storage had considerably decrease germination charges, though drying
seeds of different species is usually useful to elongate their storage
lives (2, 3, 4, 5). This characterizes oak seeds as “recalcitrant” (delicate to drying
and freezing) whereas different “orthodox” seeds are resistant to those
situations (3).  Nevertheless, inside the recalcitrant classification, oaks comprise
additional complexity. The “white oak” subgenus Quercus
Quercus aka Quercus
(why are there so many names for one subgenus?!) has seeds that mature
in 6 months (slightly than Pink/Black oaks which mature in >1 yr) and
whose seeds have brief storage shelf usually underneath 1 yr earlier than
germination charges begins to drop off (
3). The explanation why white oak acorns have can’t be saved for lengthy
durations is primarily their shorter seed dormancy durations; a number of white
oak species have now noticed this manifest via the phenomenon of
seeds germinating early throughout chilly stratification (
1, 3, 6, 7, 8). Some research went on to seek out that storage of acorns at -1C would
forestall early germination amongst white oaks, however as all the time species should
be thought-about. Whereas seeds from the bur oak,
Quercus macrocarpa,  and English oak, Quercus robur, have been discovered
to tolerate subfreezing temperatures (4, 2), a number of different research have
discovered subfreezing storage temperatures (even simply -1C) end in embryo
injury and fewer germination relative to +1 or +4 C storage situations
3, 8). Whereas preferrred storage situations have been studied throughout a number of
species of white oak, preserving early germinators is sort of unstudied
matter. The research talked about to this point all left them within the chilly
stratifying inhabitants and solely made observe of them when the chilly
stratification interval ended.

Within the context of our Garry oak (aka Oregon white
oak) subspecies, the early germinating acorns we noticed now make
sense. Whereas we all know white oak storage recommendations for stopping early
germination differ by species, storage through subfreezing temperatures to
forestall early germination haven’t been examined within the Garry oak in any
printed work most likely resulting from its regional distribution. Garry Oak is
discovered between northern California and Southwestern British Columbia and
is of course present in low-altitude, semi-wet environments (
A current examine performed on preferrred storage situations for acorns of
Quercus garryana wild sort (not Brewer’s selection – see Determine
above) discovered that one of the best plan of action was to refrigerate seeds as
quickly as doable after assortment to stop undesirable germination in chilly
storage, nonetheless, after 6 months of storage, unplanned germination charges
rose in all teams examined (1).
In the meantime, the carefully associated Brewer’s oak subspecies we’re working
with survives finest in its restricted pure vary of northern California
to southwestern Oregon at larger altitudes from 1400-2000m the place most
snowpack ranges from 50”-90”, relying on elevation (10, 11). Though
Garry oak germinates in fall with the arrival of autumnal rains and has
no dormancy interval (
1), the extra winter-hardy native vary of Brewer’s oak signifies our
seeds could not behave identically. These variations mixed with the
utter lack of peer-reviewed analysis on Brewer’s oak germination and
lack of detailed data given from the seed bulk-seller leaves us
to chart our personal course on how you can retailer our Brewer’s oak seeds and what
to do with the early germinating seeds.

In some contexts, early germination is just not problematic however slightly is
inspired. Vegetable growers who begin their crops indoors with develop
lights or in a protected greenhouse just a few weeks early can see bigger
crops by the tip of the yr due to the top begin (Mark Comstock
does this together with his pine seedling-cuttings too; 12, 13). Nevertheless, rising a temperate tree indoors may have unfavourable
penalties too. As with the notorious ‘mallsai’ juniper procumbens
which die after being disadvantaged of their pure dormancy for too lengthy, it
stays to be seen if a seed that sprouts one full season too early may
fall to the identical destiny or if it will be versatile sufficient to outlive and
alter again right into a pure rhythm subsequent fall. Moreover, as a result of my
develop tent house is already overflowing with tropical bushes and I do
not have a sheltered greenhouse or polytunnel to increase my rising season,
my crops are finest served by being in sync with Ohio’s seasons and by
germinating on the acceptable time. 

Now that we all know in regards to the fundamentals of oaks and acorn germination and
the doable benefits and downsides we are able to anticipate to see from giving
early-germinating acorns particular remedy, we should delve deeper into the
fundamentals of seed biology earlier than we are able to formulate particular hypotheses.
Upon the arrival of my acorns, I seen condensation within the bag and
white radicles bursting from the pointed ideas of ~15 acorns.
As you possibly can see in Determine
3 above, a radicle is a
scientific phrase for the primary root that emerges. For many seed sorts,
shortly after the radicle emerges, the hypocotyl emerges (the primary
stem), adopted by unfurling of the cotyledons as soon as above floor
(the seed’s first leaf buildings) after which adopted by the plant’s true
leaves growing. If my acorns had been shipped in spring and planted
straight after their required chilly stratification, this sequence of occasions
would occur in brief succession. Nevertheless, in response to my studying, it’s
extra pure for Quercus garryana and different fall-germinating oak
seeds to have their radicle emerge first, develop for an undetermined quantity
of time, and arrest hypocotyl development till hotter spring situations

The habits of those Garry oak seeds of their pure vary suggests
that one of the best plan of action is to plant all these seeds exterior via
the winter, however we’ve a number of unknown components to contemplate. First, as I
already described, we’re coping with 
Quercus garryana var. breweri
– a subspecies of Garry oak that would behave otherwise than the
Quercus garryana species which had been studied beforehand. Second, Ohio is exterior the
pure vary (although inside the beneficial USDA Hardiness zones) of
Brewer’s oak and subsequently our winters could get to colder temperatures or
have extra freeze-thaw cycles than the seeds are accustomed to enduring.
And if the seeds can’t germinate as they usually would via our
distinctive midwestern winters, would the seeds profit from continued humid
chilly storage till spring, or would they do higher if to be planted
indoors early? All of that is to say – do early germinating seeds profit
from any particular remedy, or are they adaptable sufficient to endure any

I hypothesize three potential strategies may underly survival mechanisms
for the early germinators. First, by returning the seeds to chilly storage,
germination would possibly pause till spring – leading to solely minor radicle
development and no hypocotyl development which is able to resume when planted in heat
temperatures. Alternatively, permitting the early germinators to proceed
germinating in an indoor setting just a few months forward of time may additionally
end in wholesome crops which sprout earlier and probably develop bigger
by the tip of the primary yr resulting from their artificially longer rising
season. Additionally doable, the naturally cold-stratified seeds may show
proof against the midwestern winters and germinate with out difficulty.  Or
lastly, none of those situations matter and the early seeds might be
doomed to die by their seasonal dysphoria.

By means of this experiment, we take a look at these hypotheses relating to whether or not early
germinating Brewer’s oak seeds require any particular remedy to make sure
continued germination and 1-year survival of these seeds. On the onset of
the experiment on 12/12/20, I obtained 1 pound of
Quercus garryana var. breweri from Sheffield’s seeds (now out of
inventory). The picture collection under (Figures
4-12) exhibits how seeds had been
sorted by radicle size (utilizing a malleable wire to gauge lengths of
curved radicles), assigned an identification quantity, and planted.
Non-germinators had been positioned right into a sealed Ziploc bag within the crisper drawer
of my fridge with moist paper towels (1, 14). The sorted seeds had been then randomized into the three
situations and had been both planted exterior, planted indoors (develop tent),
or positioned in a brand new sealed Ziploc bag with moist paper towels again into the crisper. The group which returned to the fridge could be a management for no particular remedy to early germinators – as all previous synthetic chilly stratification research have left early germinators undisturbed till planting time. The randomization was finished by alternating which situation
obtained a seed, ranging from the shortest emerged radicle to the longest
radicle (see desk under). Moreover, every group included one seed that
had a radicle emerge however had that radicle damaged off. This state of affairs mimics
the pure technique of Siberian chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus) who
cope with the issue of early germinating white oak (Quercus mongolica) acorns by pruning off the rising radicles to protect their
meals caches and lends me to consider that radicle regeneration and wholesome
germination continues to be doable (7). 

Determine 4: Measuring radicle size 

Determine 5: The seeds for the experiment – you possibly can see the rising
radicles on 1-9 in addition to the damaged radicles on 10-12.

Determine 6: The continued moist chilly stratification situation (no remedy management).

All seeds had been picked for speedy planting had been put into a mixture of 50%
pumice, 50% composted pine bark (see Determine 8 for the precise product) which
might be a moist but aerated bonsai combine for the seedlings to develop in upon
germination. The planting was finished into 32oz plastic yogurt containers
with added drainage holes in a clockwise trend – lowest to highest –
with the variety of the seed additionally labeled on an outdoor place of the
pot. The indoor situation was positioned within the decrease stage of my develop tent
supposed for tropical bushes. The outside situation was positioned within the effectively
of a cinderblock with mulch between the partitions of the cinderblock and the
pot to insulate the roots from chilly temperatures and with moss positioned on
prime of each the indoor and outside situations to retain moisture. Each
indoor and outside seeds weren’t given particular watering regimens; the
indoor seeds had been watered 3-5 instances every week when the remainder of my tropical
bushes had been watered, and the outside seeds had been watered sparingly – solely
when there have been prolonged durations with out snow or rain, and the remainder was
left to nature. 

Determine 7: Lifehack for making holes in yogurt coaching containers –
stab with bonsai scissors! A drill bit could be safer however I misplaced the
ones I used to make use of for this.

Determine 8: That is the model of aged pine used within the soil combine at present.
There are numerous prefer it, however this one is mine!

Determine 9: Ensuing soil combine.

Determine 10: Planting association.

Determine 11: After protecting with extra soil and moss.

Determine 12: The outside situation with mulch and cinderblock

In the course of the first yr of development, the dates of hypocotyl emergence might be
recorded in addition to the date of entrance into dormancy (whole leaf
drop/browning) to verify for any impacts of the completely different situations on the
crops’ seasonal circadian rhythms.

On the finish of yr 1 (spring 2022), the surviving seeds might be
separated, weighed, leaf # recorded, peak recorded, germination/survival
charge recorded, and be planted in particular person pots or the bottom for additional
coaching as finished in 
my earlier submit
about coaching seedlings for bonsai.

Desk 1: Pre-planting data

Desk 2: Put up-planting outcomes


            All this studying and planning comes with the most important caveat
that 12 seeds should not a terrific pattern measurement for making conclusions. That is
supposed as a pilot examine for additional investigation by others sooner or later,
but when any clear tendencies emerge, it could nonetheless be informative.

2. Ozbingol, N., & O’Reilly, C. (2005). Rising acorn moisture
content material adopted by freezing-storage enhances germination in pedunculate
oak. Forestry, 78(1), 73–81.

3. Connor, Ok. (2004). Storing acorns. Native Crops Journal,
5(2), 161–166.

4. Schroeder, W. r., & Walker, D. s. (1987). Results of moisture
content material and storage temperatures on germination of Quercus macrocarpa
acorns. Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 5(1), 22–24.

6. Tilki, F. (2010). Affect of acorn measurement and storage period on
moisture content material, germination and survival of Quercus petraea
(Mattuschka). Journal of Environmental Biology, 31(3),

7. Yang, Y., Yi, X., & Yu, F. (2012). Repeated radicle pruning of
Quercus mongolica acorns as a cache administration tactic of Siberian
chipmunks. Acta Ethologica, 15(1), 9–14.

12. Shepherd, L. (2011).
The Full Information to Rising Greens, Flowers, Fruits, and Herbs
from Containers: All the things You Have to Know Defined Merely
. Atlantic Publishing Firm.

13. Mark Comstock | Fb. (n.d.). Retrieved February 22,
2021, from

14. Díaz-Pontones, D., & Reyes-Jaramillo, I. (2009). Producción y almacenamiento de bellotas de Quercus hintonii Warburg (Fagaceae) de la Depresión del Balsas, México. Polibotánica27, 131–143.

  1. Submit your bushes for critique or recommendation right here. I would like new bushes for the following Bonsai Buds episode! Visitor announcement

  2. Contact me if you happen to ordered seeds from me final yr and they didn’t
    germinate. As you possibly can see, I have been doing rather more analysis on
    long-term seed storage and germination and am testing to make sure larger,
    extra uniform charges of germination this yr. I am joyful to ship new seeds
    at no cost.

  3. New seeds sorts with my 10-year bonsai rising information might be on sale in March.
  4. On behalf of the Columbus Bonsai Society, I am placing collectively an Yamadori Examine Group. These of you interested by becoming a member of and who dwell close by can learn extra and fill out this temporary survey right here.


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