Over the years, bonsai cultivation has become quite popular, with more beginners venturing into the art every day. Although these miniature trees make excellent indoor decorations, they can be quite challenging to care for. Bonsai trees need the same nutrients and environmental factors as larger trees.

Without proper care, bonsai leaves start to turn brown or wilt. Once you notice brown leaves, you need to pay close attention to your miniature tree. Most of the time, your bonsai tree will die if you don’t get to the bottom of the problem.

There are many reasons why the leaves or stem of your bonsai tree may be turning brown. In the next section, we will take an extensive look at the common reasons why your bonsai may have brown leaves. We will also take you through the options for remedying the situation.

Improper Watering Causing Browning Leaves on Bonsai

To survive, your bonsai needs a specific amount of water. Underwatering will lead to the browning of leaves, and eventually, the trunk will start wilting. Overwatering, on the other hand, will lead to root rot and thus browning of leaves.

bonsai watering

Most beginners make the mistake of overwatering since they are always checking up on their bonsai. Different tree species have different watering needs making it impossible to have a standard watering timetable.

A great example is when you start noticing the trunk part of your bonsai getting soft. This is usually an indication of overwatering, which causes the roots to rot. Reduce the watering frequency and let the soil dry up completely. Then start watering your bonsai only when needed.

Only water your bonsai when you notice the soil starting to dry up. Constant supervision should help you identify the specific water needs of your bonsai.

Insufficient Light Causing Browning Leaves on Bonsai

When bonsai trees are kept indoors, then they are hugely affected by a lack of sunlight. Your miniature tree could either be subtropical, hardy, or tropical. The sturdy tree varieties need a lot of direct sunlight, which means that the leaves will turn brown quite quickly when kept indoors.

The bonsai in the subtropical and tropical category can survive quite well in partial sunlight. As a rule of thumb, your bonsai needs at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. Identify a position in your room that receives several hours of direct sunlight.

Move your bonsai to the identified location and monitor for a few days. The leaves should start regaining their elegant color and shape. 

Diseases and Pests Causing Browning Leaves on Bonsai

When it comes to bonsai, pests and diseases can cause massive problems. Most of the time, pests can go unnoticed for several weeks and months. Your bonsai leaves will, therefore, turn brown before you notice that the entire tree is infested with pests.

Pests such as spider mites and aphids feed on the nutrients in your bonsai’s steam and leaves. Because the nutrients don’t reach their destination, the leaves gradually start turning brown. In such situations, remove all the dead and brown leaves before spraying a light pesticide.

Nutrient Problems Causing Browning Leaves on Bonsai

Your bonsai tree needs proper nutrients to develop and grow. Nutrient deficiency while leading to the browning of leaves quite quickly. Lack of magnesium, iron, and nitrogen are the common reasons why your bonsai leaves may turn brown.

The browning of stems and leaves simultaneously is a common sign of nutrient imbalance. It would help if you used the right fertilizer mixture to ensure that your bonsai gets a sufficient amount of nutrients. Carry out extensive research to figure out the exact nutrient requirement for your bonsai tree.

Fertilizing needs to be done all year round when you have a weak bonsai tree. However, the best times to fertilize a healthy bonsai are usually at the start of spring and end of summer.

Conclusion

The browning of your bonsai’s leaves can be caused by several factors, including watering schedule, nutrient issues, insufficient light, and more. Ensure that you diagnose the problem first before carrying out a remedy. With time, you will grow into a skilled bonsai cultivator that can identify the different issues quickly. The beauty of bonsai cultivation is the fact that you get to experiment and develop your skills.