How to take care of bonsai trees

Read on to discover how to take care of bonsai trees with our answers to frequently asked questions.

Updated

Looking after a bonsai

Key steps

  • Leave your bonsai outside in spring, summer and autumn.
  • Bring your bonsai inside for the winter.
  • Don’t forget to water your bonsai regularly.
  • Fertilizing is important for bonsai health.
  • Pinch and trim to keep bonsai trees miniature.
  • Repotting every 2-5 years will help your bonsai grow a better root system.

Got a bonsai but unsure how to care for it? From where to display it to the best routine for watering and fertilizing, this article will answer all your questions about bonsai tree care. These popular and eye-catching plants aren't nearly as difficult to look after as one might at first think!

Fertilizing your bonsai is paramount for maintaining its health. Whilst you can use almost any fertilizer, we recommend using them at half strength due to the size of your tree!

How to grow bonsai trees with ease: a simple guide to bonsai care

Read on for all the answers to your questions about how to take care of bonsai to make the most of these great additions to your home.

  1. Where do I put my bonsai tree? As the seasons change you may want to move your bonsai to give it the best chance to grow and look its best.
    • Is the temperature above 100°F? During spring, summer and autumn your bonsai tree will thrive outside in a position where it receives plenty of morning sun and afternoon shade.
    • As the temperature drops in winter, make sure you don’t forget to bring your bonsai inside! A south facing windowsill will make sure it gets the light it needs to survive through the winter months.
    • Do you want to be able to view your bonsai tree? Pop it on a table, wall or bench at around three or four-foot-high for the best viewing pleasure!
  2. Does my bonsai need extra care when indoors for the winter? Yes! Indoor heating can cause issues for your bonsai. Therefore, we recommend you follow these steps for how to care for your bonsai indoors:
    • Fill a shallow tray with a layer of gravel.
    • Add a small amount of water.
    • Pop your bonsai into the tray.
    • This will give it some additional moisture to counteract the heating systems indoors.
  3. How often do you have to water a bonsai tree? Your bonsai is one plant which you must never neglect to water!
    • As soon as the soil begins to look dry, top up the water.
    • You should never allow the soil to dry out completely.
    • If you have it positioned in a spot that gets plenty of sun, we recommend you water at least once every 1-2 days.
  4. Do I need to fertilize my bonsai tree? It is definitely necessary to fertilize your bonsai to ensure it remains healthy! They usually grow in a small amount of soil, so fertilizing will ensure that your bonsai will get the nutrients it needs. Apply your fertilizer once a month throughout spring, summer and autumn.
  5. How do I keep my bonsai mini? Trimming and pinching is the best way to ensure you bonsai stays miniature.
    • Pinch and trim back any new growth to a safe point – never removing all of the new growth.
    • Always leave a little to ensure the tree stays healthy.
    • Monitor the growth rate and adjust the timings of your pinch and trim to suit, as each bonsai will grow at a different rate.
  6. Do I need to repot my bonsai? As your bonsai tree grows, its root system will fill the pot and therefore it may need repotting to allow it to grow, or to compact its roots. This will also give you a chance to freshen up the soil. Have a look at this toolkit of tips:
  • Deciduous trees require repotting every 2-3 years.
  • Evergreen trees require repotting every 4-5 years.
  • To be sure it needs repotting, check the root systems once a year.
  • Remove the tree, and all of the soil, from the pot.
  • Remove the outer and bottom ¼ of your bonsai’s root mass by raking away the soil and pruning the roots.
  • Simply pop your bonsai back into its original pot to compact the roots or repot into a new pot to allow it to grow.
  • If you’re repotting in a new pot don’t forget it will need drainage holes, a layer of gravel beneath the soil and fresh soil to elevate the height of your bonsai.

For more advice about how best to repot plants carefully, check out our guide to repotting plants.

Knowing how to plant bonsai trees is only part of the information you need for its care. Use these answers to FAQs for a foolproof guide on bonsai care.

Originally published