Growing tea plants at home

The plan of having a nursery in one of our plantations for growing new tea plants has always been there, but until we don’t have one, we decided to do a little experiment at home. Seeing how a plant is evolving has always been an interesting and special thing to observe and as we didn’t have any experience with planting tea seeds ourselves, it felt (and still feels) extra exciting. It is also worth mentioning that it is possible to find quite many different ways to plant tea seeds from the internet but in the end we did it kind of our own way.

Picking the seeds from the plantation

So what exactly did we do? Firstly we needed to go to the plantation and pick the seeds. Luckily (but also unfortunately) we didn’t have any problem with that part - our plantations were full of seeds. Having seeds on the tea bushes actually lowers the productivity of the tea bush itself. Hence why we are doing heavier pruning this year -  to rejuvenate our tea bushes -  but this is a whole another topic and deserves a separate blog post. So let’s get back to picking the seeds.

Seeds of camellia sinensisFreshly picked tea seeds

After picking the seeds, we left them to rest a bit, so the shells of the seeds could open naturally and the seeds would fall out by themselves. Our seeds stayed in an uncovered basket for around  2 weeks before we took the next step of separating seeds from the shells and putting them into a bowl of room temperature water. It is worth to mention that you should not leave the seeds to rest for too long as they can easily dry out.

Seeds of camellia sinensisTea seeds after resting for few weeks

Separating sinkers from the floaters

Separating sinkers from the floaters is an important step in planting your tea seeds. If the seeds will float, it means that they are dried out and they are not viable anymore. As our seeds finally got into the water after waiting for 2 weeks, we kept them in the bowl of water for around 4 days. Usually they are kept in the water for 24-48 hours. At first the majority of our seeds were floating around and we didn’t feel really optimistic but after a day they started to sink, and by the time we started to put them in the soil, most of them (90%) had fallen to the bottom. 

Tea seeds in a bowl of waterTea seeds in a bowl of water

Preparing the soil mixture

When it was time to sew the seeds, we separated the ones that had popped. These ones were placed on a simple rail planter that is usually used for flowers. We used a compost (¾) that was meant for general use and mixed it with perlite (¼). Perlite helps to improve aeration and modify the soil substructure, keeping it more loose, well-draining and defying compaction. We mixed it all together in a large bucket and also added water so the mixture would be moist.

Sewing the tea seeds

We added around 15 cm of the soil mixture to the rail planter and placed all the popped seeds in 3 rows with around 1,5 cm in between them. We added about a 1,5 cm layer of the mixture on top of the seeds. We put the rail planter to the windowsill that has a lot of sunlight and then the waiting game started. We watered the seeds every day, sometimes 2 times per day with the hand pressure sprayer and the first plant popped out even less than a month later. Now, a month and a half later we have 23 little tea plants looking at us and probably more are coming. 

Sewing tea seedsSewing popped tea seeds

Enjoying the development of our tea plants 

We also put some of the seeds in our balcony greenhouse that Mario built, but theoretically these plants should start to pop out during the springtime. Let’s see how it will go with those ones. We will definitely keep you updated, but in the meantime let’s enjoy the plants on our windowsill :) 

Tiny tea plants growing at homeTea plants growing on the windowsill

Written by Hanna