Monday, January 6, 2020

DIY Pine Cone Bonsai - How To Make A Pine Cone Bonsai

Japanese Black Pine mini bonsai by Vertmoi

Once considered to be lucky, the pine was thought to be a talisman against evil, so displaying one in your home protected you from evil and gave you good luck! The symbol of perpetual youth and longevity, these pretty pine cone bonsai are the perfect way to begin your new year. Read on to learn how to make your very own pine cone bonsai!   

Mini pine bonsai from Cobonsai


Pine cone before and after images from Matome Naver

How to grow your own Pine Cone Bonsai

1. To grow your own pine cone bonsai, you will first need to find a pine cone that is young and fresh and that has not opened. This is because you need one that still has it's seeds. Once the pine cone opens up, the seeds will be gone and the pine cone will not sprout, so you want to make sure you find a closed pine cone that still has it's seeds. Also, pine cones from a Japanese Black Pine work great perfect for this project. 

2. Try to find a pine cone that is on the larger size; this will help to assure that the seeds inside are of better quality. It's also best to collect a few pine cones and not just one!

3. Some folks recommend giving your pine cones a quick bath in a solution of very diluted lime-sulfur solution before starting this project. That is just an extra step that will help get rid of any pests or fungus that is living in the pine cone. 

4. Next you will need to dry out your pine cones, so place them in a dry spot and watch as they begin to dry out and open up. You may see some of the seeds begin to come out. At this point, you can give the pine cones a few taps to help loosen seeds if you want to plant the seeds outside of the pine cone. The darker seeds will be of better quality. 

5. If you want to grow the seeds directly from inside the pine cone you will next place your pine cone in your prepared soil. Loosely bury bottom of pine cone only, do not bury the entire pine cone! From this point you will water it sparingly and wait for it to sprout - do not over-water or it will rot. That's all there is to it!

A sprouting pine cone from Gisela Zimmerman

6. If you want to plant your collected seeds at a later date follow these directions: Place the seeds in a cool dark place until you are ready to sow them. Once you are ready, you first want to soak them in warm water for a day to help them get started and to separate the duds (those will float to the surface, the good ones will sink.) After the 24 hours, place the seeds in a baggie with a damp paper towel or a bit of moss to get them ready to plant. At this point you can place them in the fridge for a week or two.

6. Once you are ready to plant the seeds, simply sprinkle them on your soil and then cover them with a thin layer of soil. They will take between one and three weeks to sprout. You can strategically position your pine cone in the soil close to your seedlings, but not directly on top of the seedlings or you will kill the seedlings.

7. Give them plenty of sunshine but water them sparingly.

Japanese Black Pine cones, from Bonsai Tonight

Bonsai from Mikuni image from Bronwen Macdonald

What do you think?

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Article copyright Laura Beth Love 2021 and may not be republished in print or other media without express written permission from the author. For any link updates or corrections leave correct info in comment area. 


  1. Amazing..i am definitely gong to do this..

  2. Great idea to do with my boys during this virus, just went out and collected the pine cones, now drying them outside in the sun!

  3. That would be a fun science project to do with the kids this year!

  4. Amazing ide. My boys will love. going to get those cones today.

  5. Hi - Many thanks for describing the process. Is there a best time to collect pinecones? Can it be done now or later in the summer (before fall)?

  6. How big does the pine cone bonsai get will it grow into a tree will it stay little

  7. Wonderful I'm going to grow these for my 3 Grandchildren and when they see them help them do this wonderful activity themselves. Thank you

  8. That looks just splendid! How and Where would I find a Japanese Pine Cone? Does the Green Garden at Clayfield have any or know of owners of cone-bearing trees who would not mind sharing? What time of year would one gather these and does one pick them off the tree or wait until they drop to ground. Thank you for sharing!!! Can hardly wait to find out where to get the cones!

  9. Hey there,
    when I wanna do step 5 do I have to let try the pine cone before as well? Or can I put the Pine cone after collecting from the forest directly into my pot?

    thank you :)