How to take care of bonsai trees in winter

How To Protect Bonsai In Winter

Every bonsai grower should know how to manage bonsai during winter time. Proper bonsai storage is a must to avoid ruining all your efforts. The winter season is the perfect time for your bonsai to rest. In this post, you’ll learn more about how to protect your bonsai during cold climate or winter time using effective methods. Let’s get started!

Types of Bonsais

There are four types of bonsai depending on the cold hardiness: tropical, semi-tropical, temperate and hard.

The tropical is the kind of bonsai that must be protected from freezing. This type of bonsai is best for an indoor grow during winter. The semi-tropical kind of bonsai tree can withstand moderate frost and cooler temperature for a short period of time.

The temperate kind of bonsai tree can withstand frozen temperature without causing any damage to the roots while the hard type of bonsai can withstand extreme cold without causing physical and secular damage.

Tips In Growing Bonsai During Winter

Tip #1

It is advisable to cover your bonsais with plastic over a cloth or newspaper wrap around the exterior of the bonsai. Exposure to direct plastic effectively conducts temperature or promotes heat. As soon as the sun rises, remove the cloth and the plastic immediately to avoid leaves from getting burned.

Image Credit: Mommysavers

Tip #2

When growing bonsais indoors during winter, grow lights are important to achieve its maximum growth but it is advisable to place the bonsai near the window so that it can still get sunlight and so as not to expose it to too much UV rays from the grow lights.

Tip #3

It is important to know what kind of bonsai specie that you are growing to know if you should place it indoors or outdoors during winter. If you are growing a tropical type of bonsai specie, move it indoors or in a greenhouse since it expects warm temperature.

Tip #4

When growing outdoors, make sure to observe proper watering. Remember that your bonsai doesn’t need much water during the dormancy period. Only water your bonsai when the soil dries out.

Tip #5

When bonsais are placed on top of the bench, cover the sides of the bench with bubble wraps to serve as a protection from cold temperature and possible hails stones.

Image Credit: Indiamart

Tip #6

It is advisable to take the bonsai out from its original container or pot and directly plant it in the soil in your garden. This will give the roots maximum protection since then it is completely covered with soil.

Tip #7

If you do not have space in your garden to directly plant the bonsai, just transfer it to a larger pot preferably a wooden box-type pot filled with garden soil. Make sure that the roots are situated 2-3 inches from on top of the ground.

Tip #8

The dormancy period is the perfect time for you to check if your bonsai is already infested with the pest for early detection and treatment.

Tip #9

Once the bonsai has already shed its leaves, all its stored sugar is sent to the roots. That’s why the most important part of growing bonsai is to take extra care for the roots.

Before Winter

During the dry and warm part of the year, starting May to Mid November, it is advisable to place the bonsai tree outside to get an optimum sunlight exposure needed for growth before experiencing the dormancy period.
Let the bonsai adequately prepare for its dormancy period during the winter by fertilizing it only until August. Avoid pruning the parts of the bonsai at least two months before winter because it may not have enough time to recover making the bonsai very weak.

During Winter

During the dormancy period, you may transfer the outdoor bonsai trees to a cool, dark location that is unheated. If your bonsai tree is a hard species then you may leave it outside as long as it has adequate protection.

When growing indoors, it is not necessary to provide light for as long as the storage temperature is between 20 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or (-6-+10 degrees Celsius).

If your bonsai tree is planted in a shallow pot protect the roots by ensuring that there is enough soil to cover it or better yet transfer it to a larger pot.

Allow your bonsai tree experience the early freeze to trigger its cold hardiness mechanism just make sure that the temperature won’t drop at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is at this point begin with your cold protection strategies.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

If you don’t want to leave your bonsai outdoors, you may refrigerate it to give it’s required dormant period but place it in an indoor environment in late winter to prepare for the spring period. The ideal temperature in the refrigerator for bonsai storage is between 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

After Winter

When there are no signs of intense cold that may damage the roots, you may repot your bonsai most especially if you placed it directly in the soil in your garden or if you want to transfer it to a normal size of the pot.

Conducting pruning for structuring and maintenance is also conducted to bring back the natural beauty of your bonsai.

Image Credit: Homeguide Sfgate

Best Type of Trees for Winter

These types of bonsai species are highly resistant to extreme weather conditions because it can survive up to -45 degrees Celsius. Most of these bonsai species should be planted outdoors because it favors cold weather conditions.

  • Cedar
  • Elms
  • Pine
  • Spruce
  • Larch
  • Birch
  • Cypress
  • Maples

Image Credit: YouTube


Proper knowledge on how to take good care of your bonsai during winter is essential. Even though you are growing a hard specie, it will still require special care. Bonsais are versatile because they can still be grown outdoors or indoors depending on what measures you are going to take to protect it during harsh conditions, most especially during winter.


Preparing Your Bonsai Trees For Winter

The inevitable onset of winter, complete with freezing temperatures and prolonged periods of wet weather can without proper preparation cause a range of care issues for the bonsai enthusiast. Lets have a think about preparing your bonsai trees for winter.

I’ve written some notes here to help beginners in bonsai get their trees through the first couple of winters.

Know which species of bonsai tree you have

Some species of bonsai tree are hardier than others. Winter hardiness often depends on whereabouts in the world your tree is native to.

Trees from temperate parts of the world such as ours have evolved to cope with the cold weather.. Photosynthesis ceases in deciduous trees and slows to a trickle in evergreen species. Tropical and sub-tropical trees can be more tender to the cold.

Proper fertilisation help to protect bonsai trees in winter

Proper preparation for winter starts during the warmer months. Trees produce sugars and carbohydrates which they use to stop themselves from freezing.   It is important therefore to make sure that your trees are fed throughout the growing season in order to give them everything they need to be ready for the cold.

Cold winter weather can dehydrate bonsai trees

Bonsai trees can be very hardy and able to cope with cold conditions. Generally it isn’t the cold which harms the tree. More damage is often done through dehydration. If the soil around the roots of a bonsai freezes, the roots cease to function. They stop drawing in water. The top of the tree however continues to release water. It is for this reason that prolonged spells of freezing weather cause harm. This is can be made worse by freezing weather coupled with strong winds  or strong winter sun as it dries the trees out even faster. A lot of the potential harm can therefore be removed simply by placing the trees into a more sheltered position out of the wind or sun.

Size Matters

Larger bonsai trees are more robust generally and this certainly applies to the cold. Smaller bonsai trees, perhaps small enough to pick up in one hand, will need protecting earlier than large, heavy trees.

The wet can be as bad as the cold

Some periods of winter are not especially cold. Instead, they are full of heavy rain. This can be just as bad for the trees, as it leads to their roots rotting. The can be combatted by potting your trees into good quality, free-draining bonsai soil. Compost-rich soil mixtures are not helpful, so when you repot your bonsai, this can be removed.

You might also move your bonsai out of the rain, even though the weather isn’t especially cold. This means that you can control how much water they get.

Don’t rush hardy bonsai trees into winter protection

It is quite common for beginners in bonsai to want to over-protect bonsai by bringing then into the house or into a heated conservatory. This may result in the trees not actually entering the dormancy period – It can encourage them to keep growing. If this happens the trees may carry out growing throughout the winter. This distortion of the natural cycle does not help and can harm the tree. The dormancy period is essential to the health of trees from a temperate climate. Trees from tropical parts of the world do not need this dormancy period as they do not experience it in their natural environments. They can therefore be allowed more heat.

A little cold is also good for killing off pests. It can also help keep other tree infections at bay.

When does the cold kill bonsai trees?

Generally speaking most trees from temperate parts of the world can be left unprotected until the weather gets down to -10. When it gets colder than this, protection is required.

Tropical trees will be damaged by even light frosts and should be moved before the temperatures really start dropping,

It’s important to research the species of bonsai that you have to find out the degree of cold that they can withstand – the problem is that you will get conflicting answers!

The duration of the cold spells should also be considered

As I mentioned above, it isn’t always the low temperature that is the problem. It can be more the duration of the cold spell which is the issue.

For example, say that minus 10 will damage Japanese Maples. It’s clear then that exposing them to minus 12 is not a good idea, However, if it is minus 5 for a fortnight, then this is also damaging, as dehydration causes harm.

Winter quarters for your bonsai trees

A greenhouse is probably the best solution for protecting trees from the worst of the weather. A cold frame is also very useful. Easy to build too!

An unheated outbuilding can be used to protect deciduous trees. Since deciduous trees don’t need  light when not in leaf, they can be stored in shed, outhouses or garages when the weather gets cold.

Bonsai growers often construct benches in order to display their trees to best effect in the garden. Dropping the trees under the benches and then covering the bench top and sides with bubble wrap or something similar can be enough protection. This is great for stopping the wind getting to them.

Another solution is to take the trees out of their bonsai pots and plant them out into the garden. This can provide the protection from the cold that the roots of the trees require. When the spring comes they can simply be potted back into the same pots.

As with planting bonsai out in the garden over winter, you can take the trees out of their pots and plant them into larger wooden boxes filled with garden soil. I would find this too much work!

The experience of real-world bonsai growers

As part of running the business, I often come into contact with very experienced bonsai growers.

Some of them move all their trees into greenhouses, while others don’t move them at all.

For me, peace of mind also comes into play. Its far easier to relax on a winters night knowing that your bonsai collection has been prepared for winter. Its saves worry on your part.

Possible Timetable to think about:

Autumn is here: Move your tropical species before the first frost. this includes Ficus, Serissa, Sageretia, Ligustrum and Carmona,

Light frosts: Move semi-hardy bonsai such as Azaleas, Trident Maples, Crepe Myrtles, Buddhist Pines and Japanese Holly. Don’t panic about the others.

Heavy frosts but ones where it thaws during the day: Don’t panic! Consider moving smaller bonsai into winter quarters.

Extensive cold, where the temperature doesn’t rise above freezing for days on end: Move more trees.

Deep Cold, minus 10 degrees: Panic and move as much as possible! I tend to get a bit twitchy when weather forecasters mention minus 7 degrees.

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 Houseplants

Indoor Bonsai Care Instructions

Indoor Bonsai Care Instructions

It is a common misconception that bonsai are kept indoors. In fact, most types of bonsai trees need to stand outside to be exposed to natural phenomena throughout the four seasons, just like ordinary trees. Only tropical and subtropical plants can be permanently indoors, where a high and stable temperature is maintained throughout the year.

Selecting tropical tree species for indoor bonsai

There are several types of trees that can be grown indoors. Today, the most common (and easiest to care for) is ficus bonsai. Ficus, which tolerates low humidity and is resistant to various adverse conditions, is a good choice for beginners.

Other common indoor tree species are the money tree (Crassula), privet (Ligustrum), eretia (Carmona), sheflera (Schefflera arboricola) and sageretia (Sageretia).

"Indoor" bonsai trees; ficus, carmona and Chinese elm.

Why can't temperate (non-tropical) trees be kept indoors year-round?

As noted above, the most important reason is that these trees require a dormant period in winter. At this time, the annual growth cycle ends and the tree prepares for the next cycle, which will begin in early spring. It gradually sinks into a dormant state as temperature and light intensity decrease over several weeks. This does not happen if the tree is kept indoors.

An example of an indoor ficus bonsai

In terms of care, an indoor bonsai is different from a normal indoor potted plant. The main difference is that bonsai are kept in small containers and therefore have a limited supply of nutrients and moisture. Even more importantly, tropical trees require an abundance of light and high humidity, i. conditions that are quite difficult to recreate indoors.

Specific recommendations for indoor bonsai care:

1. Lighting

The main problem with tropical bonsai indoors is the significantly lower light intensity indoors compared to outdoors. At low light intensity, trees, of course, do not die immediately, but their growth slows down, which ultimately leads to their weakening. Therefore, put your bonsai in the brightest place, best of all - on the south window.

However, even if you have a south-facing window, the light intensity may still be too low. Then additional lighting with lamps, for example, fluorescent (with a spectrum that stimulates plant growth) or LED, for at least 10 hours a day, can help.

2. Humidity

Another problem with keeping tropical bonsai indoors is that they require a relatively high humidity, much higher than that normally found indoors (especially when the heating or air conditioning is running). You can increase the humidity around your bonsai by placing it on a tray filled with water, or by misting it several times a day. It also helps to ensure the flow of air from the street through the window.

3. Watering and feeding

The most important rule is never water on a schedule.

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