Congratulations on taking the first step towards creating your own Ficus natalensis or Natal fig.
The Natal fig is an indigenous tree species in South Africa and is a favorite among local bonsai enthusiasts to grow as it is fast growing, is very hardy and is particularly suited to the root over rock style.
Today I am going to unpack your kit along with yourself and explain the purpose of each item. Then I will show you how to plant your seeds and how to care for them once planted to increase the chances of germination.
We have the box the kit came in and upon opening it you will see a business card with a weblink and a QR code on it. As you are on this page it’s a fair assumption that you have figured out how to use it, but just to be sure let me quickly go over it with you.
You can either scan the QR code with your smartphone camera or you can type in the weblink into your browser as it appears on the card. Either method will pull up this page where I will be adding updates throughout the year ahead, aimed at helping you to grow your seedlings. Please keep the card in a safe place or bookmark this page so you can visit again in the future.
After removing the card you will find a brown envelope containing fresh Ficus seeds. Ficus seed is very fine so we give you approximately five but most likely more. Although we only use fresh seed which we purchase from the most reputable seed bank in South Africa, there is still no guarantee you will have 100% success to germinate the seeds. This is why we give you at least 5 seeds, as we want to stack the odds in your favor that you will at least have one growing. If you get more then well done, that’s great!
You will then find the limited edition ceramic container with a small piece of black mesh at the bottom. The hole at the bottom of the container is to allow water to pass through, and the mesh is used to cover this hole so the growing medium cannot wash out the bottom.
The saucer we included will protect your surface, should you decide to grow your bonsai on a counter or other surface which could be marked by water rings.
The seedling medium is a small quantity of our top selling seedling mix which is made using a recipe given to us by a professional seedling producer. There will be more than sufficient medium in this bag to fill the container.
Aside from the items we have provided you, the only other tool you will need is a misting can or something which can be used to deliver fine water droplets. You will need to fill this with a little clean water. You may want to work with gloves to keep your hands clean too. Once you have assembled these items you are ready to move to the most exciting bit, planting the seeds.
For the moment set aside the saucer as you wont need that just yet. Lets first prepare our container by placing the mesh over the hole. Over this gently pour some seedling medium. Fill the container with the medium, to just below the rim but keep a little back. You should now thoroughly water the medium to properly wet it. You don’t want to do this after planting the seeds as it could move them around a lot.
Go back to the little media you kept back and carefully pour or empty your seeds into this dry media. Try to mix it a little. Now scatter this mixture over the surface of your wetted media in the pot. You can now lightly mist the surface to compact the soil and seed down.
Now, many people think they need to place their planted seeds in the sun. This is incorrect. In order for seeds to germinate all they need at first is moisture and warmth. No direct sun. So place your planted seeds in a warm position but out of direct sun. Suitable places might be on a verandah which gets nice and warm, a south facing windowsill or a kitchen counter. Use the saucer to protect your surfaces.
Be careful not to overwater your planted seedlings. You will want to always keep the medium moist only, not wet. If you allow it to dry out for even only a few hours the seedlings, if they have germinated will die. If you water too much and keep the soil soaked all the time fungus may develop and this can kill your plant overnight. (If this happens you will see that the germinated seedling stem goes brown, kinks and falls over at soil level) This is a very common problem when growing from seed but one which is easily avoided simply by not overwatering. It is impossible for me to tell you how often to water as it wholly depends on how quickly the soil is drying out and this depends on the unique conditions you have provided it. The best is to check every morning and if the soil is drying out to give it a light watering.
As a tip, sometimes it appears as though the soil is dry but scraping the top few millimeters aside might reveal moist media. If this is the case don’t water it then, rather come back to it a little later in the day if you are checking in the morning and water then.
When your seedling pushes through the soil, you can still keep it in the exact position. However, after it has produced its first set of leaves, you should move it to more sunlight preferably outdoors but if this is not possible for you then some other position where it will get a lot of direct light, not only diffused. Morning sunlight is great and is not likely to burn your tender seedling. If you shade them too much you will find the plant will not be healthy and will grow in a very lanky sort of way.
You do not need to fertilize just yet, but if you wish, after roughly a month of growing you can start giving it a very light dose of liquid organic fertilizer. Use any liquid plant food you have already for pot plants or you can purchase something like Seagro or Nitrosol from us. When you water, you can occasionally mix some of this fertilizer with the water and water your plant thoroughly with it.
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