How Hard Is It To Grow A Bonsai Tree

When you are new to the world of horticulture, you are probably amazed at just how fascinating this pastime can be. There are so many different varieties of plants and trees that it could take several lifetimes just to get through it all. One particularly fascinating example would be the Bonsai Tree. First of all, the Bonsai tree doesn’t refer to just a plant, but this is an art form that has been cultivated for several centuries. The main purpose of the Bonsai is to create a miniaturized tree that is cultivated to grow in a small container and is designed to appear like a much larger tree. Bonsais were originally called dwarf potted trees, and this is a tradition that dates back to a thousand years or more. Indeed, the earliest known reference to a Bonsai creation was in a Medieval art scroll from the year 1195. If you are interested in this discipline, then there is a lot you need to know about it. Keep these considerations in mind.

There are many different types of Bonsai trees and they have several different scientific names each.

Examples such as the Ginseng Ficus, Oriental Ficus, Brush Cherry, Chinese Elm, Norfolk Island and a multitude of others all indicate an endless amount of choices for you to consider. When it comes to scientific names, Bonsai families such as the Vervain family, the Bromeliad family, the Cedar, the “prunus” variety, and the “Succulents” variety and many others are all categories that have been delineated by scientists.

Appropriately caring for Bonsai trees is a must.

One of the things that you will quickly learn is that the Bonsai can be a very delicate plant! However, as long as you know the basics, you will be able to properly maintain the plant and keep it healthy for as long as possible. Here are some things you need to know:


There are many factors that go into watering your Bonsai tree appropriately. The first thing you should do as a beginner is to thoroughly observe each of your trees INDIVIDUALLY before you water them. Avoid watering your Bonsai trees at a set routine. Instead, you should only water your Bonsai trees when you notice their soil has a slight dryness to them. Additionally, you should incorporate a soil mixture that holds in more water and use a watering tool that consists of a fine nozzle.


When fertilizing your Bonsai tree, it’s all about Nitrogen! The quantity depends on the season and there is a rating that you will need to pay attention to. Generally, a high NPK rating of 10:6:6 should be utilized in the spring, a balanced NPK rating of 6:6:6 should be considered in summer, and a lower NPK rating of 3:6:6 should be used in the fall. Of course, these guidelines only apply to outside Bonsai trees. An inside example will generally only required the balanced NPK fertilizer, but it will be used year-round. Many Bonsai enthusiasts swear by the Biogold brand for their fertilizer.


When it comes to pruning, you must keep the following goals in mind: you want to ensure that your tree always emulates a fully-grown and lifesize version and you want your Bonsai to be healthy and have as much eye appeal as possible. Usually, the best time to prune your Bonsai tree is when it is showing signs of new growth.


Bonsai tree enthusiasts use the wiring method to reposition the branches. This practice can be done on a year-round basis for Bonsai tree species. You can use either annealed copper wire or aluminum wire.

Don’t underestimate the importance of repotting your bonsai tree.

Repotting is important in order to keep your Bonsai growing correctly. Of course, this all begs the question, how frequently do you have to repot your plant? It depends on the size of the pot and the species of the tree. Species that are younger have a tendency to grow faster, thus they will need to be repotted often even once a year. A good rule of thumb is to simply check and see how the roots of the tree are holding up. If they are starting to wrap around the soil, it is time to repot your tree.


Finally, there are pests we have to contend with. Aphids are the biggest problem as they can eat away at the underside of the tree. However, simply spraying them off with a hose or placing lacewing larvae will remove all of these aphids. I typically like to release a box of 1,000 ladybugs once a month as soon as the frost is gon for the year.

Keeping all of this information in mind is sure to help you have a Bonsai tree that lives and prospers for a long time.

How To Water A Bonsai Tree Indoors

How To Water A Bonsai Tree Indoors


Watering A Indoor Bonsai Tree

Watering is one of the most important parts of growing a bonsai tree. When to water and what to water with are both important factors to consider before watering. Indoor bonsai trees have different watering needs because of the amount of sunlight they receive and other climate differences.


When Should I Water My Bonsai?

One general rule of watering bonsai is to never water on a schedule or routine. Your bonsai should be watered when the soil gets slightly dry. Try not to let the soil become completely dry as this can harm the plant. You should also avoid watering your bonsai when the soil is still wet as this can cause the roots to rot.

As for the time of day you should water the plant, it doesn’t really matter. Some suggest not watering in the afternoon as the soil has been warmed by the sun and will be cooled down significantly after watering. However, it should be noted that you should water your bonsai as soon as you see that the soil is dry, no matter the time of day.


Using The Right Soil

Bonsai soil is crucial in letting the water drain properly. Bonsai soil should include Akadama, Pumice, and Lava rock at a ratio of 1/2, 1/4, 1/4. Regular gardening soil should not be used for Bonsai as it will not allow for proper drainage and aeration which will cause rot in the plant’s roots. So long as you use the proper soil, over-watering should not be a big problem


What Water Should I Use?

What water you use when watering your bonsai doesn’t really matter so long as there’s no harmful chemicals in it. If you are able to collect rainwater, this is the best option. If you are unable to do this, using tap water is perfectly fine. When using tap water, you should let it sit overnight to allow for any chlorine in the water to evaporate.


How To Water My Bonsai

When watering bonsai, you should use a fine nozzled watering can to avoid disturbing the top layer of soil. Water the plant generously and allow for the water to leak out of the drainage holes. Once the water has stopped dripping, water again. To determine when to water the plant, check the amount of moisture in the soil. There are several methods you can use to check the moisture in the soil.

The first method is to simply use your finger. Insert your finger about one centimeter into the soil. If the soil is moist, you do not need to water yet. If the soil is dry, water.

Another popular choice is to use the chopstick method. Simply take a clean, dry, wooden chopstick and insert it about one inch into the soil and wait about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the chopstick and look at it. If the chopstick is discolored, the soil is still damp and you do not have to water your bonsai. If the chopstick is dry, it is time to water your bonsai. After use, clean and dry the chopstick to contamination and store in a dry place.

And another option often used by beginners is to use a moisture meter. Moisture meters determine how moist your soil is on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the driest, 10 the wettest. If your scale reads 1 to 3, you need to water your bonsai. Anything higher than 3 means your bonsai is still at least a little damp and watering is not needed. After use, clean and dry to avoid contamination and store in a dry place.


When watering your bonsai, some factors should be considered. Watering on a schedule should never be done, as every bonsai has different needs and these needs are nearly impossible to predict. Water as soon as the soil gets slightly dry. Do not water when the soil is still wet as this can cause rot in the roots. Either tap or rain water can be used to water bonsai so long as there are no harmful chemicals. You can use your finger, a chopstick, or a moisture meter to see how moist the soil is. If the soil is moist, do not water the bonsai. If the soil is dry, water your bonsai immediately.

Bonsai Tree Soil

If you want to, you can skip right to our favorite bonsai soils by scrolling down to the very next section where we show you our favorites.  If you need to understand why having the correct soil for your Bonsai is important, we’ve out-lined the most important quick key points in this post. Its often over looked, but having the correct kind of Bonsai soil is key to successfully keeping beautiful bonsai trees. 🙂

Why Using Bonsai Soil is Important

Fertilizing your plant provides your Bonsai with nutrients it needs to survive. Some basic things you need in this fertilizer are Nitrogen, which helps with the growth of the leaves and stems, Potassium which helps in the overall health of your plant, and Phosphorus, which aids in root growth.

Your soil should also provide good aeration. Aeration is the process of air, water, and nutrients filtering down to the Bonsai’s roots.

In order to grow and thrive, Bonsai need to have special soil in order to drain properly. You cannot use just any soil, for a list of our favorite see above for our favorite kinds of soils. If you use regular potting soil, the plant’s roots won’t drain and will rot.


Our Favorite Bonsai Soils

Superfly Bonsai – Boon Bonsai Soil Mix

This first Bonsai soil is pre-mixed, so no extra effort is needed. It’s contents include Japanese Akadama, pumice, and black lava to help the draining process. This is a non-organic mix, meaning it has no bark, dirt, or mulch in it. This soil provides great water retention, drainage, and nutrient uptake while still getting air to the roots. Click here to check it out on


Bonsai Jack Universal Organic Bonsai Soil Mix

While this next soil is also pre-mixed, it also provides great water absorption, particle size, and bulk density, and it has multiple options for how much product you get, ranging from 1 gallon to 28 gallons. Click here to check it out on






Tropical Bonsai Tree Soil Blend Two Quarts From Tinyroots 

If you want a soil with lots of vitamins in minerals, this is the way to go. With 28 vitamins and minerals, it also includes Akadama, clay, river sand, and pine bark. Click here to check it out on



A purely Akadama soil is also an excellent option. This soil was mined in Japan, and darkens when wet, providing a good indicator for when you should water your Bonsai. Click here to check it out on


 Superfly Bonsai – Traditional Japanese Bonsai Soil Mix

This last soil is a more traditional Japanese soil with Japanese Kiryu, Akadema, and Hyuga Pumice and no dirt, mulch, or bark. Also, the drainage, nutrient uptake, and water retention are very good. Click here to check it out on


Common Aspects of Good Bonsai Soil

Your Bonsai soil should provide a couple important things.

Water needs to be able to immediately drain from the pot. If the water does not drain, the soil is too water retentive, it lacks aeration, and salts will likely build up. Inevitably, the roots will rot and your Bonsai will die.

As mentioned before, Bonsai soil is a special kind of soil, not like regular soil. That being said, this soil does not provide enough nutrients for the Bonsai alone. In order for your Bonsai to be healthy, you need to add in nutrients with a fertilizer that has Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus.

Bonsai trees’ roots need oxygen, which is why they require special soil that allows for air flow.


Different Kinds of Bonsai Soils

Akadama Bonsai Soil

Akadama is a Japanese baked clay, specially made for Bonsai. This needs to be sifted before you use it, and after two years it breaks down, reducing aeration, and needs to be repotted. If you want to avoid re-potting, you can use a mixture with Akadama and other soils. While this soil can be expensive, it is easily accessible. Click here to check out Akadama Bonsai Soil.


Lava Rock Bonsai Soil (Scoria)

Lava rock is another good choice because it retains water and your Bonsai’s roots can’t grow into the rocks. It gives your potting a distinct look as most of these bonsai soils are black. Click here to check out our favorite Lava Rock Bonsai Soil.






Pumice Bonsai Soil

Pumice, a soft volcanic product, absorbs water and nutrients well while still helping to retain water. This also helps the roots to spread and grow. this bonsai soil has a lot of common aspects with the lava rock bonsai soil, but, is richer in sodium.  Click here to check out our favorite brands of pumice bonsai soil.




Fine Gravel Bonsai Soil

Fine gravel helps with the draining process while simultaneously helping the roots to spread and grow as well. Gravel may be used in the bottom of your Bonsai pot. However, most experts do not use this anymore, they instead prefer to use a mix of Akadama, lava rock, and pumice. Click here to check out our favorite fine gravel bonsai soil choices.




Organic Potting Compost Bonsai Soil

Organic potting compost is a mixture often containing sand, moss, and perlite, a volcanic glass. This mix retains too much water and doesn’t drain well. While using it on it’s own is considered a bad idea, using it along with some of the other soils (Akadama, lava rock, pumice) works just fine. Click here to check it out on





We hope that with this proper information you are able to enjoy your Bonsai tree, keeping it health and happy!