Friday, March 11, 2011

Germinating Bodhi Tree Seeds (ficus religiosa)

Sometime last year in a fit of whimsy I purchased a little packet of Bodhi tree seeds from an eBay vendor in India. At one point I sprinkled a few of the tiny seeds on some dirt in a dish that I covered with plastic, but nothing happened, and the packet of seeds sat on my desk for months.

When March started and we had a few days of tantalizingly spring-like weather, I got a seedling starter set from Amazon -- a seedling heat mat and a thermostat, a small grow light. I started with some tomato seeds. The pelleted seeds from the local grocery chain germinated horribly--only 2 of 24 seeds sprouted. So I gathered up some seeds from tomatoes that were rotting on the ground from last year. They sprouted fine.

Then I remembered the Bodhi tree seeds. Everything I read said that they were hard to germinate, be patient, it might take months, blah, blah, blah. So I took a pinch of the seeds and sprinkled them on some wet seed starter mix in a take out tray covered with the plastic lid and put them on the heat mat (set at 80 degrees), under the grow light.

Nine days later the tray was full of tiny little two-leaf seedlings. I now have about a hundred little Bodhi tree seedlings. So apparently the internet is not full of useful information on this particular topic, or I was just insanely lucky. I suspect that the seed starter heat mat was the key here. Ficus religiosa is known to like heat and moisture.

Now...what am I going to do with a hundred seedlings? Visions of farmer's market Bodhi tree booths drift through my head. Then the thought of all of the work of re-potting over and over and more grow lights and rooms in my house occupied by tiny little fig trees. Oh well.


  1. Hi Spero,

    I was googling for bodhi tree seeds and how to grow them when I came across your post. Hope your seedlings are doing great.

    If you have too many, would you like to share some of the seedlings with me ? Just a couple of them - for me and my friend. Please kindly let me know and I will pay for shipping.

    Email me at

    Thanks for looking !

  2. I agree with Aparna,
    If you need to get rid of some seedlings, please let me know. Willing to pay for shipping also Moving to Florida from Chicago, and would like to take with me and plant to enjoy.

    thank you in advance.

  3. Hey, I'm very curious what your plans are, we're growing some too and slowly making plans for what we're going to do with them.

    If you're interested in brainstorming a bit, shoot me an email. A friend and I are going to spend some time in the next 6 months planning creative ways to give some away.


  4. I really want to grow a bonsai from the beginning, but from seed I would need special lights, a heat mat, etc. (I'm only 12, so I can't really order a lot of stuff. Luckily it is almost my birthday and xmas). I live in Manhattan, NYC so I would need shipping. Thanks!

  5. Hi Spero! Thanks for sharing this post. I want to grow Bodhi plants from seeds in Brazil. To import Bodhi plants to Brazil is impossible so I want to carry seeds from India, my native country. Would you please elaborate the method for propagation method in detail? I need that very much! Please, email me at

  6. just leaving a quick note, I'd commented last year on this. love to hear you've had good luck with them. From someone that did the same thing, planted a lot of seeds, I'd recommend trying to keep them alive for sure. It's not that much work repotting them & there are always people that would want one of the seedlings, like you can see from some of the comments on here.

    I had good success with them & kept them all repotted as they've grown. There's always the farmer's market route, but considering their religious significance etc, I've made a point to just give away my extra seedlings. Without getting too much into it, in our culture, there's plenty of ways to get wrapped up in consumerism and such, and a pretty big lack of gifting. I've found tons of yoga folks, meditation enthusiasts, local Buddhists, and just gardening enthusiasts, that have been ecstatic for the gift. And I've made a point that whoever comes by to pick up a seedling, to let them know if they have a friend that would appreciate the gift, I have more to spare. From my small batch of seeds, I've given away around 260 of them over the past 7-8 months.

    There's plenty of things to grow and sell if you want. These can even make great bonsai trees if you wanted to test out trying to make that work with some. In the next year or two, I'm going to start considering which ones will be aimed towards the bonsai route. best of luck. hope this helps. Doesn't cost too much money to buy some cheap potting soil, maybe a little compost, & find a local nursery that recycles plastic pots for you to use. email me if you have any insights or whatever, always curious what people are up to.

  7. Where can i get unprocessed Bodhi tree seeds?

  8. I'm looking for the seeds as well..

  9. I just bought some, 100 seeds for $3 through

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