How hard are bonsai trees to take care of

How to Care for a Bonsai Tree

Bonsai trees have a reputation for being extremely delicate and difficult to maintain. While these specimens do require special attention, once you learn the principles of bonsai care, it's fairly straightforward.

Bonsai is a Japanese word that literally means "planted in a container". It refers to the practice of keeping large plant specimens, usually trees, from reaching their natural size by a process referred to as "artificial dwarfing."

Many gardeners are familiar with the concept of dwarf specimens of trees or shrubs. For example, semi-dwarf or dwarf fruit trees are bred to grow to between 1/3 to 1/2 their normal size. Such trees can be very useful for orchard fruit production and urban growing in small spaces.

But bonsai are not really dwarves. Instead, they are like a miniature version of a tree that is trained, pruned and maintained in a way that makes it look like a much smaller version of its full size.

These specimens often have a magical, fairy-tale quality about them, hence the popularity and renown of bonsai as a botanical art form.

Their special needs arise from the importance of recreating their parent tree's ideal conditions, which may include certain levels of light, humidity or soil nutrition important for vibrancy and longevity. Proper pruning is also important to maintain the tree's shape and encourage flowering and fruiting at the right time.

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle

Bonsai Tree Selection

Selecting the right bonsai for your situation is important to ensure you can care for it effectively. There are easy, low-care bonsai varieties such as ficus and jade. You can choose a deciduous, sub-tropical or tropical bonsai tree, and read up on the different specific ways to take care of it.

Consider your local conditions too. Is your backyard naturally sunny in winter? That might be a plus for a deciduous bonsai specimen. Do you hot and humid summers? Then a sub-tropical tree should do fine for you. Do you have a sunny bay window that gets bright light on a winter afternoon? Then you can grow a tropical bonsai tree that you can bring indoors for the winter.

A bonsai is not just meant to survive but to flourish with beauty. It's not just a plant but a work of art. With that in mind, here are some tips for caring for your bonsai.

Indoors or Outdoors?

If your bonsai is a deciduous tree, it will benefit from being outdoors, in order to be exposed to the natural weather conditions it is suited to. If a deciduous tree is kept indoors (even a miniature one) it won't get the exposure to cold necessary for its season of dormancy in winter. This is an important part of the tree's growth cycle.

Your bonsai tree will also benefit from the gradual increased exposure to sunlight that occurs naturally with the seasons. With that in mind, you will still want to protect your bonsai from extreme weather conditions or possible damage. So, if there's a storm in the forecast, shelter your bonsai from the wind, heavy rain or snow by placing in under an awning, or bring it indoors for the duration of the bad weather conditions.

It is possible to grow a deciduous bonsai indoors year-round, but it will benefit from a natural light source and plenty of fresh air, so placing it in a sunny window is the best location.

If your bonsai is a tropical plant, but you live in a growing zone that gets cold winters, you will have to move your indoors for a few months until the danger of frost has passed. You'll also need to be very careful to make sure your bonsai gets adequate moisture and humidity, which can be adversely affected by indoor heating systems.

Water and Humidity

One of the trickiest parts of caring for bonsai is getting the amounts of watering and humidity just right. Traditionally bonsai are kept in small pots without much room for soil nutrients or moisture retention. Constant monitoring and appropriate watering or misting is important. You're essentially creating a microclimate for your bonsai.

Watering as needed is better for your bonsai than watering on a set schedule. This is especially important for indoor bonsai as it helps mimic outdoor weather conditions. One good way to make sure your indoor bonsai gets adequate humidity is to place a shallow dish of water nearby. Opening a window to let in the fresh air also helps humidity levels.


Bringing your bonsai indoors for the winter means making sure it gets enough natural light. Even in winter when there are fewer hours of daylight, the intensity of sunlight is much brighter outside than it is inside. The best thing is a sunny window that gets several hours of daylight. If your bonsai is tropical or sub-tropical, avoid a drafty window, as the cold may injure the foliage.

Bonsai can do very well indoors on a year-round basis if you make sure it's light and water requirements are taken care of. But consider giving your bonsai a little outing from time to time, for some fresh air, a light mist of raindrops, or some dappled sunlight, and it will surely thank you with its renewed vigor.

Fertilizing Bonsai, feeding is crucial for trees

The basic components of fertilizer

There are three basic elements in any fertilizer; Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (NPK.) Nitrogen increases the growth of the leaves and stems or the growth above ground. Phosphorus contributes to healthy root growth and the growth of fruits and flowers. Potassium enhances overall plant health. Growers often use different ratios of NPK for different trees and at different times of the year. However, experts are increasingly recommending using the same NPK ratio throughout the Bonsai growth cycle. Apart from the three macronutrients (NPK), fertilizers can also include a range of micronutrients like Iron, Manganese, Boron, Molybdenum, Zinc, and Copper.

When should I apply fertilizer?

Most Bonsai trees should be fertilized during the entire growing season; early spring through mid-fall. Older and more mature trees are often fertilized less frequently, depending on the species, time of year, stage of development, and health of the tree. Indoor trees can be fertilized all year round. Check our care guides for specific information about when to fertilize each specific tree species.

Biogold is an organic fertilizer from Japan, often used for bonsai trees, with an NPK of 6:7:4. The fertilizer pellets can be placed on the soil surface with fertilizer covers.

Which fertilizer to choose?

It is important to choose the right fertilizer for your Bonsai plants and apply the right quantities. For outdoor Bonsai we recommend using a relatively high Nitrogen content fertilizer like NPK 10:6:6. in spring, a more balanced fertilizer like NPK 6:6:6 is more optimal for summertime, and a low Nitrogen fertilizer like NPK 3:6:6 for autumn. More and more, experts are favoring using a balanced fertilizer throughout the growing season, and slowly decreasing the amount applied towards the end of the growing season.

The fertilizer you choose should also depend on the developmental stage of your trees. Our goal for a Bonsai in early development is strong growth, hence we need a relatively strong fertilizer. For a Bonsai in late development we desire balanced growth for fine ramification, and a balanced fertilizer would be recommended. For far more in-depth explanations, consider enrolling in our Beginners course.

Subtropical tree species are usually kept indoors and don't experience seasonal changes. They grow year-round and need to be fertilized consistently. For indoor Bonsai, we recommend a balanced liquid fertilizer. Follow the guidelines as stated on the product packaging.

There are a few exceptions worth pointing out for using varying ratios of NPK. Using a high Phosphorous fertilizer like NPK 6:10:6 can help promote the flowering growth of a Bonsai tree. Using a fertilizer with a slightly lower Nitrogen content or reducing the amount of fertilizer used can be advantageous for older or more mature Bonsai. Bonsai fertilizer is like any other, but buying from an online Bonsai store will ensure you find the right NPK values to promote Bonsai growth. Biogold is a favored fertilizer among Bonsai enthusiasts, but any fertilizer with the right NPK value is perfectly fine. There is a wide variety of liquid, solid, synthetic, and organic fertilizers. What type of fertilizer you use, doesn't matter, but you have to make sure to carefully follow the application guidelines as stated on the product’s packaging.

Solid Bonsai fertilizer.
Liquid fertilizer.

How much fertilizer should I apply?

The quantity of fertilizer you use and the frequency in which you apply it can vary depending on which fertilizer you buy. Follow the instructions listed on your fertilizer packaging to make sure you feed your Bonsai correctly. Make sure your Bonsai is planted in a proper, well-draining Bonsai soil, to prevent a buildup of salts.

You can choose to slightly reduce the recommended quantity for trees that are no longer in training to balance their growth, instead of stimulating it. When using solid fertilizer it helps to use fertilizer covers to make sure the fertilizer stays in place. Never overfeed your trees, as this will have serious consequences for their health.

Bonsai. Care and conditions of detention. Growing bonsai at home

Bonsai is not just a decorative green decoration in the house, it is a miniature tree that is rather capricious, its care is painstaking and long, but the result obtained exceeds any expectations. Bonsai will give a small world in your home if you are already a professional in dealing with this miracle of Japan and its culture. Love for the beautiful and unusual will help overcome the difficulties that will arise in the first years of acquaintance with bonsai. And in a few years, your world will be filled with an unusually breathtaking view of a miniature landscape.

The prototype for bonsai is taken from ordinary trees that grow in subtropical, tropical, forest middle lanes, as well as coniferous giants. Naturally, the first problem is related to the climate to which the original is accustomed. If you buy bonsai yourself, then choose closer to your habitat, it’s more difficult if you were presented with such a wonderful plant.


In the temperature regime it is necessary to reproduce the changes corresponding to the plant. Boxwood, pomegranate, olives, myrtle - perfectly adapt to room conditions - this applies to all subtropical bonsai options. A front garden, garden, balcony or just an open window will bring great benefits in the summer. Fresh air favorably affects the development and growth of this unique houseplant.

It is better for them to survive the winter in a rather cool room, where the temperature fluctuates within +15. A well-equipped and glazed balcony is perfect for this. But for tropical trees, it is necessary to adhere to +18 in winter, otherwise they may suffer from higher temperatures. Often, it is this temperature that is maintained in apartments in winter. The most difficult thing in organizing wintering is to withstand temperatures no higher than +10 for various types of conifers, maple, the same mountain ash. Of course, a balcony is good, but if it is not very insulated. In case the balcony cannot be used for various reasons, especially its absence, the reverse greenhouse method is used. The window sill, along with the bonsai, is fenced off so that the plant receives as little heat as possible.


Before installing lighting in a place near a bonsai, it is necessary to become very familiar with the natural conditions in which the tree grows. An apartment is, of course, not a natural habitat, but you can try to get closer to it by studying the information. The most optimal location of the light will be on the east and west sides, so we focus on these windows. An interesting point is the direct location of the bonsai on the windowsill.

The west window means the plant will be on the right side. The east window will have a more favorable effect if the tree is placed on the left side. The development of bonsai will be complete both for leaves and for shoots if it is turned 180 ° at least once every two weeks, or even two or three times in four weeks throughout the entire warm period. The cold period can lead to the appearance of very weak shoots that have lost their brightness and are too elongated.

The lack of light has a bad effect on the development of bonsai. To avoid this, it is necessary to raise curtains and blinds throughout the daylight hours. A fluorescent lamp or a halogen lamp will help increase daylight hours, but not an incandescent lamp, to which many are most accustomed. A properly selected lamp is placed at a height of no more than 50 cm, such an addition will saturate the plant with the necessary light and increase daylight hours to half a day.


According to experts, watering is labor intensive. Its frequency and amount depend on the soil, the capacity where the bonsai grows, evaporation and absorption of liquid. It is for this reason that many consider the procedure for proper watering not possible. The most optimal option is watering in small portions, but quite frequent in quantity. This option is not available to most gardeners.

Dip irrigation is a common method of watering. In order to implement it, you need to take a container larger than the one where the bonsai grows and place the plant there. It will be possible to take it out only when air bubbles no longer rise to the surface. This serves as a signal that the soil no longer needs moisture, but before putting the bonsai in place, it is necessary to allow excess water to drain from the pan. The process of saturating the earth with moisture must be monitored so as not to overexpose the bonsai in water where there is no air for the roots. This is especially important for middle lane trees. It is also worth considering the state of rest, which falls on the winter period, for which excessive saturation of the earth with moisture is fraught.

In summer, fresh air washes the leaves of your tree, moisture evaporates more and more from the soil. No matter how busy you are, but during such a period you need to water at least twice a day, especially moisture-loving representatives of the bonsai family. For tropical representatives, even spraying is possible, but within reasonable limits. For the winter period, watering changes its quantity and frequency to once a week. Before watering the plant, you must be completely sure that the earth has dried out. The light color of the soil indicates the need to add moisture to the bansai. You can also probe the soil and, based on tactile sensations, determine the timeliness of watering. For the most experienced people who have devoted their lives to bonsai, this moment is determined by the weight of the pot or pallet where the plant is planted.

You can also prepare a water bath for the summer. To do this, expanded clay, coarse-grained sand, moss, stones (that which absorbs and releases water well) are placed in a fairly deep container. All this is filled with water, and a bansai is installed on top, but in such a way that there is space between the moisture and the pan. It is good to combine such a system with spraying for a better result in creating a humid environment.

Bonsai is the aesthetic enjoyment of an ornamental tree. It is very common to find a hydroponic plant method that loses the charm and charm inherent in this type of houseplant. This is due to the fact that the pallet is replaced by pots inserted one into one. However, this method of growing and caring for ornamental trees has its positive aspects, but the standard form of bonsai pushes this method into the background.

Top dressing and fertilizer

Feeding bonsai does not require serious knowledge or a laborious process. The most well-known mineral supplements that are suitable for indoor plants will saturate the bansai with the most necessary at least once a month. With the onset of winter, feeding is stopped, except for tropical species, if their daylight hours are equal to half a day.

Ornamental trees can be fed in the usual way by watering the soil from above, or you can immerse the tray with the plant in the mineral solution, as when watering. A mineral solution prepared from two grams of mineral supplement, which is diluted in one liter of water, is placed in a deep container. In this solution, the bonsai is located until it gets enough to drink, after which it is removed from the treatment bath.

Bonsai indoor plants

How to care for Bonsai at home


  1. Bonsai: Features of Care
  2. Features of Bonsai Care
  3. Temperature mode
  4. Watering
  5. 9004 Top dressing, choice of fertilizer

If there is a bonsai in the house, how to care for it, and how difficult is it? The dwarf tree is considered capricious, therefore it requires special care and attention. With proper care, a small green miracle will delight with its beauty for a long time, and decorate your home.

So how do you take care of a bonsai tree? The art of growing mini-trees came to us from distant Japan. This variety of plants is the prototype of ordinary deciduous and coniferous trees growing in the middle lane, tropics and subtropics. Accordingly, the most important thing in care is to create the most approximate conditions for the climate in which a real tree exists.

Temperature regime

In the room where the bonsai is located, the air temperature should be such as is typical for this plant in the wild:

Subtropical (pomegranate, myrtle, boxwood, olives and others) feels great in a room environment, but in winter it needs a low temperature of +5-13, but above +15 degrees. For this, an insulated and glazed loggia or the same balcony is suitable. In summer, it is better to take the plant to a slightly shaded place in the front garden or garden, to the balcony, or simply open the window, which significantly improves its decorative effect.

A tropical tree needs at least +18-24 degrees for a comfortable wintering. It is important to adhere to the temperature level otherwise the bonsai may suffer from hot air.

Conifers, rowan and maple. They feel great at +10 degrees, so a cool balcony or a “reverse greenhouse” effect will do. In the latter case, the window sill, on which the green “pet” is located, is fenced off, excluding the influx of too warm air.


How often and how much to water depends on the type of soil, the season of the year, the type of mini-tree, lighting, pot size and other nuances.

General recommendations for watering any bonsai:

It is better to water in the morning, because in the evening there are more favorable conditions for the appearance of pathogenic fungi, and during the day the liquid drops act as a lens, provoking sunburn.

For irrigation, use only melt, rain or long-term water at room temperature.

During the dormant period of the tree, watering is very rare, excess moisture is highly undesirable.

A bonsai in a brightly lit area needs more water than a plant in a shaded area.

In addition to watering, you need to maintain humidity, regularly spray the crown or purchase a humidifier, an aquarium or special hydrogel balls.

In the warm and cold periods, the irrigation scheme differs significantly:

Summer. Water at least 2 times every day. A good solution is a water "cushion". Expanded clay, coarse-grained sand, moss and stones are placed in a fairly roomy dish. The resulting layers are poured with water, and then the bonsai is installed, making sure that there is a void between the liquid and the pan.

Winter. Water no more than once a week. Before watering, make sure that the soil is completely dry (completely dry has a light shade). Experienced gardeners determine the need for watering by the severity of the pot in which the tree grows.

Lighting and Location

Bonsai needs bright light, lasting at least 6 hours a day. The best source of light are windows facing West and East:

West window. The plant is placed on the right side of the windowsill.

East window. The tree is placed on the left side of the window sill.

An alternative is a shelf or a coffee table next to the window.

For the full development of leaves and new shoots, it is necessary to turn the bonsai 180° once every 2 weeks. In winter, with poor sunlight, you need to take care of artificial lighting so that the light day for the plant is 1/2 day. For this, a halogen or fluorescent lamp is used, which is installed above the tree at a height of 50 cm.

Soil and utensils

All-purpose potting soil is suitable for the tiny tree, but Akadama (granulated clay) is considered the best option. Remarkably passes air and absorbs liquid, does not stray into lumps and retains its original appearance in water.

Bonsai are used in small clay containers with several drainage holes in the bottom. The optimal height of the pot is not higher than 6 cm, and the width corresponds to the diameter of the crown.


How to take care of the branches and foliage of a mini-tree at home? To maintain it in an attractive form, it is necessary to periodically remove vertically growing young shoots that go beyond the boundaries of the "green cloud".

Shaping is best done in spring or autumn, and in summer only remove unnecessary leaves. The original configuration is obtained by radical pruning of the crown on one side of the tree, which activates enhanced growth and branching on its mirror side.

It is much easier for a young plant that has not yet lignified to give the desired configuration with a plastic wire, with its help the trunk is directed in the required direction.

Top dressing, choice of fertilizer

Any mineral fertilizer for indoor plants is suitable for bonsai, while some of them are better to use in a certain period of the year:

Spring - nitrogen-containing.

Learn more