Bonsai Tree Care Basics

Bonsai Care, Bonsai General Info, Bonsai Tree Care Basics, Outdoor Bonsai Trees

How To Care For The Japanese Maple Bonsai Tree

japanese maple bonsai

Japanese Maple bonsai trees are very popular among bonsai enthusiasts. The tree’s botanical name, Acer palmatum, stems from the Latin word, palma, meaning hand, because of their hand shaped leaves. Their low maintenance makes these trees especially desirable for those who are just beginning to practice the art of bonsai growing. In autumn, the leaves on this beautiful tree turn red, orange, or even gold. Placing this tree in your home will light up the room all year long.

Characteristics of Japanese Maple Bonsai

The bark on the japanese maple bonsai trees starts out green or red, and fades into a gray to grayish brown as it ages. From May to June, yellowish green flowers form in clusters on the tree. These flowers turn into paired winged maple seeds that cut into the ground when mature. There are many different kinds of Japanese Maple trees. Some popular cultivars include the Arakawa, Kiyohime, Shishigashira, and Kashima. The Japanese Maple trees are popular for their red, orange, and yellow colors in autumn.

How to Care For Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

Japanese Maple bonsai trees are a great fit for beginners. They are outdoor trees, but are sensitive to lots of light and frost. Unlike most bonsai trees, this tree likes to be constantly moist. Because of this constant watering, these trees need to be repotted every year in the first 9 years of its life. Pruning can be done regularly and is necessary to create the desired look of a bonsai. Wiring is rarely necessary for these trees. 

Positioning Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

Sunny and airy positions outdoors are desirable for Japanese Maples. During midday high temperatures, your tree should be placed in the shade in order to prevent the leaves from getting damaged. Protect your tree from temperatures under 14 degrees Fahrenheit. These trees cannot survive strong frost.

Watering Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

Unlike other bonsai trees, Japanese Maples should be watered daily, or even twice a day in the summer, during their growth season. It is still a good idea to check the soil before watering each time. Water as needed in the winter. Use a well draining soil to keep your tree healthy. 

Fertilizing Japanese Maple Bonsai Trees

The use of organic, solid is recommended for Japanese Maple bonsai trees. This soil contains all the micronutrients the plant needs and it takes effect gently and slowly. Apply the amount as directed. For additional growth, apply a liquid fertilizer weekly. This works best with young plants and raw materials. Avoid fertilizers with high nitrogen content as this will cause unnecessarily large leaves and internodes. 

Japanese Maple Bonsai Training Techniques

You can trim twigs and shoots all year round, but strong branches should be pruned in autumn or summer in order to avoid excessive bleeding. Cut paste should be applied to any cuts on these trees as fungal diseases can enter through their wounds. Cut back new growth to a pair of leaves or two. To keep twigs thin, you can pinch delicate ramification on mature trees. Once the leaf pair has unfolded, remove the shoot’s tip. Use this method only when necessary, though, as this will weaken the tree long term. 

Every other summer you can prune the tree’s leaves if smaller leaves are desired. Do this by removing all the leaves but leaving the stems. You can also try a more gentle version of leaf pruning, which is partial leaf pruning. In this method, you do not remove all leaves, only remove the biggest ones or remove all the leaves on the strongest parts of your tree. You can use the partial leaf pruning method every year since it is less stressful for the tree.

Common Diseases and Pests Of The Japanese Maple Bonsai

When properly cared for, Japanese Maple bonsai trees shouldn’t face many problems. However, in the spring, aphids often infect these trees. Customary insecticide sticks or sprays will help. Verticillium wilt is a common fungal disease that may occur on fresh cuts. This will cause parts of the tree or the tree in its entirety to die. Verticillium is almost always fatal and can be transferred to other bonsai trees through the tools you use. Clean all your tools as soon as you notice this disease.

Japanese Maples are beautiful outdoor bonsai that anyone can care for. They are low maintenance trees that like sunlight and shade in the afternoons. Watering is essential for these trees, as they like constant moisture. Fertilize during the growth season with solid fertilizer and add liquid fertilizer every week for increased growth. These trees take pruning very well but do not need to be wired often. Some diseases and pests may occur with these trees, some treatable, but some almost always fatal. We hope you enjoy growing your Japanese Maple bonsai tree!

Bonsai Tree Care Basics, Indoor Bonsai Trees

Bonsai Trees That Can Grow Indoors

indoor bonsai on desk

The only trees that can grow indoors as bonsai trees are tropical and subtropical trees. These trees need high, stable temperatures all year and have no dormancy period in the winter. Indoor bonsai trees can be described as easier to care for than outdoor bonsai because you can control more variables indoors. All bonsai trees are easy to care for, but some are easier to care for than others. The bonsai we will be talking about in this article are Ficus, Carmona, and Crassula trees.

Ficus Bonsai Trees

Ficus bonsai trees are the most popular bonsai trees and the easiest to care for. Some of these trees can even produce flowers. While there are at least 800 varieties of the Ficus, the two most common are the Ficus Retusa and the Ficus Ginseng. Ficus Retusa is often seen with a S-shaped trunk with dark green oval leaves.

Ficus Ginseng have thick trunks and are commonly grafted with microcarpa leaves.

Positioning Ficus Bonsai

Ficus bonsai trees need lots of sun and consistent temperatures. They prefer high humidity but can survive in low humidity due to their waxy leaves.

Watering Ficus Bonsai

Water these trees as you would any other bonsai tree. This means watering only when necessary, never on a schedule. Ficus’s can stand occasional over- or under-watering. Mist the leaves daily to maintain humidity, but don’t do this to much as fungal problems may occur.

Fertilizing Ficus Bonsai

Feed every week or two in the summer, and every two to four weeks in the winter if growing does not stop. Solid or organic fertilizer can be used.

Ficus Bonsai Training Techniques

Prune regularly in order for the tree to maintain its shape. When 6-8 leaves have grown on a branch, prune back 2. Large wounds can be covered in cut paste. It is easy to wire thin and medium strong branches because they are flexible. Check the wiring regularly as the wire can cut into the branches very fast. Wire strong branches with guy-wires because they can be left on a tree for longer.

Ficus Bonsai Pests and Diseases

Ficus trees are very resistant against pests. Leaf drop can occur if the light intensity is low or if the air is dry. If spider mites or scale occurs, you can use an insecticide to get rid of them, but you will also need to improve the plant’s conditions. Artificial lighting and leaf misting will help.

Our Top Ficus Bonsai Choice

This Ficus bonsai tree is a great choice for the bonsai collector who wants an aged tree, or if you are trying to give a gift that is actually meaningful and rare.

Ficus Indoor Bonsai Tree – 20 Years Old; 18″ to 22″ Tall with Decorative Container


If you’re interested, our how to care for the Ficus Bonsai Tree article can be found here.


Carmona (Fukien Tea) Bonsai

carmona bonsai tree

Originally from China, the Fukien Tea bonsai was named after the Fukien providence in Chinese Fuijan. It is also common Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and Taiwan. Carmona Bonsai Trees have dark green, small leaves. On the top of these leaves are small white dots, and on the bottom are hairs. White flowers can sometimes appear all year round and can sometimes produce berries.

Positioning Carmona Bonsai Trees

This tree needs lots of light directly in front of a South facing window. The preferred temperature for these trees is 68 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase humidity, place a humidity tray filled with wet gravel under the pot. Do not expose Fukien Tea’s to frosty air.

Watering Carmona Bonsai Trees

Keep the soil moist as this tree does not like droughts, but don’t water to often because this tree does not like its soil being wet. Water as soon as the top soil gets dry.

Fertilizing Carmona Bonsai Trees

Use organic, solid fertilizer because of their sensitive roots. Feed from spring to autumn.

Carmona Bonsai Training Techniques

Prune and trim this tree regularly. Young shoots are easier to prune because of the flexibility and tenderness. Use caution when wiring mature branches.

Pests and Diseases of Carmona Bonsai

Scale, spider mites, and whiteflies can occur in inadequate conditions. Insecticides will get rid of the pests, but in order for the plant to fully recover, humidity and light conditions must be improved. Treat Chlorosis with iron fertilizer.

Crassula (Jade) Bonsai

Small jade bonsai

The Jade Bonsai Tree is a woody shrub or tree that can grow up to 10 feet tall. Its thick trunk supports thin branches and thick, green succulent leaves. The trunk is soft and green when the tree is young and becomes reddish brown as it ages. White flowers can appear in autumn but only when the tree has gone through a drought during that season.

Positioning the Jade Bonsai

This indoor bonsai tree needs lots of light. When the tree is receiving enough sunlight, the tips or edges of the leaves will turn red. Keep this tree above 41 degrees Fahrenheit at all times.

Watering A Jade Bonsai Tree

Allow for the plant’s soil to dry out between watering. In the winter, these trees can be watered as little as once every three weeks when the tree is kept at a low temperature. This tree is not particular about over-watering. Check the plants soil daily and water when needed.

Fertilizing A jade Bonsai Tree

Feed once a month from spring to autumn. This is the Bonsai Fertilizer we recommend.

Jade Bonsai Training Techniques

These succulents carry water in their branches and trunk which causes them to bend from the weight. Crassula bonsai trees handle pruning very well, and this should be done regularly to force branches to grow lower on the trunk. Do not use cut paste as this will cause rotting. The Jade’s bark is soft, so watch over the tree when wiring as the wire will bite into the bark fast.

Jade Bonsai Pests and Diseases

So long as this plant is cared for properly the plant shouldn’t have any problems. The common succulent pests and diseases you should look out for include bacterial soft rot, powdery mildew and black ring disease. These diseases are easy to identify and can be treated or dealt with when they are discovered.

These are some of the bonsai we suggest for indoor decoration and cultivation. They thrive indoors and also will last a lifetime if cared for properly. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out our other bonsai articles!

Bonsai Tree Care Basics, Uncategorized

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.

Bonsai trees 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. 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:

Watering Your Bonsai

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.

Fertilizing Your Bonsai

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.

Pruning Your Bonsai

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. This is the perfect time to begin styling your bonsai.

Wiring Your Bonsai

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. You can easily find bonsai wiring supplies on amazon.

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 repBonsai ot your tree.

Bonsai Pests

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.

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

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Tree Care Basics

Your First Bonsai Tree: A Few Things To Consider

Starting your first bonsai tree is the first step of a satisfying process for a beginning grower.
The amount of effort you can put into growing your bonsai, whether you will grow it inside or
outdoors, and the maturity of your first tree are three important things you will want to
consider as you plan to cultivate your first tree.

  1. How much effort do you want to put in?
    Think about how much time you have to spend on the basic care of your growing plant. You
    will want to allow sufficient time for mindful and frequent observation of your tree. Keeping
    a bonsai healthy means keeping an eye on a few key things.
    Since the tree grows in a shallow dish, the soil can dry out fast. You will need to monitor
    the soil regularly to maintain proper moisture.
    As you get to know your bonsai, you’ll need to monitor its health. Through close and
    careful observation of the tree, you’ll learn to spot any scars or blemishes on the skin that
    require your attention. You will need to spend time making careful corrective actions, such
    as repositioning branches or wire.
    As a beginner, you’ll be eager to spend more time on the process as you watch your bonsai
    respond to your care, so make sure you allow for plenty.
  2. Will you be growing Indoor or outdoor bonsai?
    Are you going to grow an indoor or outdoor bonsai? Knowing the true difference between
    the two is helpful, as many people have a misconception as to what the terms really mean.
    Indoor trees.
    Typically, an indoor bonsai means a more tropical species that will likely require certain
    adjustments to the environment in order to do well. You’ll want to consider this when it
    comes to selecting the right indoor plant for you. Tropical bonsai need intense light for
    a significant number of hours each day, so where you place the container is an
    important factor. A bright spot near a southward-facing spot is ideal. But even in areas
    with a sunny, southern exposure, artificial light is often needed to bring the intensity up
    to sufficient levels for bonsai to thrive. It probably goes without saying that tropical
    plants need warmer temperatures, as well, so adjusting heating conditions will be
    Ficus, Jade and Fukien Tea trees are a few examples of popular indoor bonsai, but there
    are many more.

Learn more about indoor bonsai trees [INSERT LINK to read more on our “indoor bonsai

Outdoor trees:
Temperate trees that go through a yearly growth cycle and require a dormancy period in
order to prepare for those cycles are outdoor trees. Be sure to consider the conditions
where you live in order to choose a bonsai that can thrive in that particular environment.
Certain varieties have sensitivities to intense heat or light; others shouldn’t be subjected to
frost conditions. Be sure to read up and understand what outdoor bonsai will do best in the
climate where you live.
Some examples of outdoor bonsai include gardenia, Chinese elm and dawn redwood. Learn
more about outside bonsai here. [INSERT LINK to read more on our “outdoor bonsai

{Insert pictures and examples at Amazon}

  1. What are you going to start with?
    Now that you know what type of bonsai you wish to grow, you can choose the form or level
    and maturity level of the beginner tree that you are going to work with. Think about the
    level of effort you are going to dedicate to the process as you decide. There are a handful
    of options for starting a bonsai – three to be exact.
     You might begin with a pre-made bonsai scape
    A pre-made bonsai scape is a pre-potted tree in a container-garden environment, such
    as you might find in a nursery or flower shop. The plant is already aesthetically arranged
    in the pot and soil mediums in which it is intended to initially live. The shaping process
    has already been started and the tree has already been partially trained. As the new
    owner, you will take over this process, continuing to shape and direct the bonsai as it
    Your pre-made bonsai scape will continue to develop as you continue to sculpt and care
    for it. There may be an advantage to working with a tree that is already accustomed to
    being pruned and tied. But a new bonsai gardener might want the learning experience
    of participating in the training process. Keep that in mind when choosing your starter

Learn more about pre-made bonsai scapes here [INSERT LINK to read more on our “pre-
made bonsai scapes page”}.
{INSERT examples with pics and links to them on amazon)

 Another starter option is a pre-bonsai tree
Pre-bonsai is a young tree that’s already growing and ready to train. Part of your job
will be to give this young tree a new home, in an appropriate shallow container and soil
medium. As its first and primary trainer, your care and devotion is critical to the
development of the young tree, as well as to the development of your skill and ability as
a bonsai grower. Click {insert link to “pre made bonsai scape page} to learn more about
growing prebonsai.
Make sure you have the proper materials and techniques for sculpting and positioning
your plant, which will involve three basic things: pruning, wiring and repotting. Click the
links to learn more about caring for your bonsai. [LINKS]

[insert three examples and links on Amazon]

 Your third starter option is to begin your bonsai tree from seed.
Growing a tree from seed to shoot to a tree that is ready to form and train as
bonsai is a longer and more involved process than the previous options that are
mentioned. As a beginner, this is where the learning curve will be at its greatest,
as the steps involved in raising a tree from a seed require a greater length of
time and know-how. All of this must occur before getting to the process of
sculpting the actual tree. Study up on the process before getting started. You
can learn more here trees [INSERT LINK to read more on our “pre bonsai scape
As you know, bonsai is a process and a journey, rather than a destination. It
takes take a few years to successfully grow a seed into a tree that you can sculpt,
and the growth is part of the process. [INSERT LINK to read more on our
“premade bonsai page”}. In the meantime, you can make sure that your
fundamental knowledge of the art is solid. Learn more about growing and
nurturing a bonsai here. [insert LINK)

Whether you choose to grow an indoor or outdoor bonsai, and whether you
start with a premade bonsai scape, a starter tree, or to grow a tree from seed,
there is so much you can learn and gain from caring for a bonsai.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Tree Care Basics

How Often Do You Water A Bonsai Tree

You may be wondering how or when you need to water your bonsai tree. Well, we are here to help you with the information you need.

The most important part of taking care of your bonsai tree is watering it. How often a tree needs to be watered depends on factors like the size of the pot, time of year, soil mixture, climate, size of tree and species of tree. It is impossible to indicate how often you should water a bonsai tree. However, some claims have stated that more bonsai trees die from too much water rather than little water. Understanding some few basic principles will help you to know when your bonsai tree needs to be watered.


When watering your bonsai tree, you should not water when the soil is still wet but only when it feels slightly dry. You could use your fingers to check the earth at a centimeter deep. Do not let your tree dry entirely because it could affect its growth. When you get more experience with the tree, you should be able to see instead of feeling the soil when the tree needs water. Pouring a few drops of water in the corner of the container will destroy the balance of the plant and also the surface features. The surface of the bonsai tree is essential as that will help preserve the tree.

For each watering, the soil should be saturated, and the simplest way to achieve that is to use the immersion method;

  1. Try misting the surface features, soil, gravel and moss with a misting spray. The mist helps reduce the surface tension between the surface components and the water during immersion and prevents the moss, gravel, and soil from washing away.
  2. Immerse the whole container slowly into a basin of water. Try and ensure that the water level covers the base of the plant trunk. You can wait for all the air to have bubbled out of the soil. The bubbling is the stale air which gets replaced with fresh air as the soil drains. You can wait for another 10 minutes to ensure that the soil is saturated.
  3. Remove the plant slowly from the basin. Fresh air will be replaced and drawn into the soil as the container and soil drain out which prevents anaerobic bacteria development.

The draining should be visible, and there should be free flow from the drainage hole made on the container. If it doesn’t flow, it either means the soil is too dense, or the holes created on the container are too small. This method assures safe watering without any disturbance of the surface feature.


The right soil mixture also determines how often the trees need to be watered. For most bonsai trees, a mixture of pumice, akadama and lava rock mixed in a ratio of a quarter to a half and a quarter respectively should be excellent.

You can also make use of a mixture that retains more water by even potting compost or using more akadama when you cannot water your trees regularly. With the combination of a well-perforated container and a good soil mixture, you will have no difficulty over watering your bonsai tree, and you will be offering it a more comfortable growing environment.

Make sure the whole body of soil is homogeneous to allow a proper drainage system. Soil that retains water will place most plants at high risk of root rot, but it can be considered when you don’t water your tree regularly.

The soil should contain no more than one third by volume of loamy soil, and the rest should be one-third rough surface of grain size of about 1mm to 3mm and one third a mix of peat and compost.

Repotting is necessary and essential to ensure the soil remains good. It is usually done at intervals from a couple of years for young plants to five years plus for more established plants. Repotting can become brutal when ignored for too long.


You can try to be observant when it to your tree. So you can avoid watering it daily until you’ve learned how the plant grows to know when it comes needs watering.


A bonsai container should have a proper drainage system. Your bonsai container should have the following three characteristics.


It should be able to drain completely. Stagnant water will eventually attract anaerobic bacteria that are bad for the roots of your tree. Little hollows, most importantly those that occur in warped pots where there are often indents inside the container. So in summary, drainage is very much important.


The drainage holes made on the container must be adequate, not smaller than 10mm and 15 mm-20mm is appropriate. Mesh is also required for covering the drainage holes to prevent soil spill. There should be at least one such hole for each 75cm square base area.

CONTAINER FEET                                                                                                              

The bonsai container should have feet that lift its base above the surface it stands on. It allows air convection current to circulate through the soil when it heats up. It will enable cooler clean air to come through the holes. Another significant effect of the feet of the container is the aesthetic component which gives the bonsai an airy floating world kind of feeling that contributes to the illusion one is trying to create.


A good environment is a primary key to a healthy bonsai. The bonsai variety may thrive outdoors or indoors. The outdoor species would require a season of cold weather and would become dormant. The outdoor bonsais are likely to die when kept indoors for a specified period.

When the season becomes milder like summer and spring, the bonsai tree should be brought indoors for a week. Well, for an indoor bonsai tree, it must be kept at temperature levels between 50 and 80 degrees. In milder seasons, they may be kept outside, but remember extreme cold will cause it to die and so it should be kept indoors.

 Many bonsai enthusiasts chose to create their soil mixture. A store-bought potting mix can also be used. The significant difference between the potting soil mixture and the bonsai soil is the reduced amount of fertilizer.

The moisture of the soil should be carefully observed to avoid it getting over or under watered. The bonsai tree should be watered frequently in hot seasons like summer. The bonsai plants need fertilizers for optimum growth.

The compost should contain Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium which would be given to the plant at the right time of the year.

The potassium protects the plant against disease and encourages flowering. Nitrogen enhances the growth of stems and leaves. While the Phosphorus contained in the fertilizer ensures the plant attains healthy roots and stimulates budding. A bonsai tree has a healthy growth cycle like any other plant. So generally, a bonsai tree is expected to live as same as its parent. The lifespan of the bonsai tree also depends on the species, growing condition, climate, pests, etc. The most important thing is how you take care of the tree.

It doesn’t matter what time you water your bonsai tree. But I’ll advise you to avoid flooding with icy water in the afternoon when the soil has been warmed up by the sun. When watering, ensure the entire root mass is wet.


For a healthy and flourishing Bonsai plant, these above tips will guide you on all you need for a successful Bonsai grooming. We’ll be happy to know if our suggestions were helpful, let us know the outcome of these tips in the comment box below. Thanks for reading through.

Bonsai Care, Bonsai Tree Care Basics, Indoor Bonsai Trees, Uncategorized

Can You Keep A Bonsai Tree Indoors?

While it is true that you can keep bonsai trees indoor, this is only true for certain trees. Before placing your tree indoors, you should first figure out what tree you have. Tropical and subtropical trees are the only ones that can thrive indoors. These trees need high, stable temperatures all year round. This can be achieved outdoors only in certain climates.

Indoor vs Outdoor trees

As mentioned before, indoor bonsai trees need high, stable temperatures consistently all year. Outdoor bonsai trees, on the other hand, need to be exposed to the changing of the seasons. Outdoor trees experience dormancy periods in the winter and another small one in the summer, indoor trees do not. This dormancy period is completely natural in outdoor trees, but very unnatural and unnecessary for indoor species. If outdoor species do not receive this dormancy period, they will grow weak and can die. 

Caring for an Indoor Bonsai Tree

Taking care of bonsai trees is different from caring for a regular potted plant. Bonsai trees are planted in shallow containers in order to limit their nutrients and water intake. Indoor bonsai trees are also used to lots of light and high humidity, which can be hard to emulate in your household. 


Light is one of the most important factors in caring for a bonsai. These trees need lots of light with as much light intensity as possible all year long. This can be hard to accomplish indoors, but it can be done. Placing your tree directly in front of a South facing window will ensure the tree will get as much natural light as possible. That being said, it is still very possible that your tree still isn’t getting enough light. Adding artificial lighting for around 10 hours a day will help significantly. 

Humidity and Temperature

Indoor bonsai also need high humidity all year round. Your tree needs higher humidity levels than the ones in your household, especially when using air conditioning and heating. Circulating air from outside by opening a window during the daytime will help. To increase humidity, you can try placing a humidity tray filled with water underneath the tree’s pot. Be careful not to let the tree’s roots soak in the water, though, as this will cause the roots to rot.

Tropical trees also need high temperatures all year, close to the temperatures in your living room. Subtropical trees, on the other hand, thrive in a low temperature winter. These trees like temperatures lower than your average living room.

Watering and Fertilizing 

Another very important part of caring for a bonsai is watering. How much water a bonsai tree needs varies from tree to tree, but there are some general guidelines you can follow for every tree. The first being that you should never water a bonsai tree on a routine or schedule. Check the soil’s moisture levels every day or a few times a day in the hotter months. You can check the soil using your finger, a chopstick, or a moisture meter. If the soil is dry, water generously until the water starts dripping out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Then repeat this process once more. Do not water your plant when the soil is already wet. This can cause root rot and will eventually kill the plant if left untreated.

All bonsai fertilizers contain the elements Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). Each element serves its own purpose. For indoor bonsai trees, balanced fertilizer should be applied consistently all year round because they lack a growth period. The packaging should tell you how often to apply the fertilizer.

Caring for indoor bonsai trees isn’t as hard as one may think. So long as you care for your tree properly, your tree should grow healthy and strong. The tree should receive as much light as possible during the day. Constant high humidity is required all year round, and temperatures should stay relatively high for tropical trees, lower for subtropical. Water your tree when it needs to be water, never on a routine. Fertilize constantly all year round. In time, you will learn your tree and will be able to care for it much easier.