Bonsai trees need a certain amount of light each day in order to thrive, just as normal trees do. Bonsai need around 10 hours of light each day. This need varies from species to species, and indoor and outdoor trees have different needs as well. One important thing to remember is that every individual bonsai is different. Getting to know your tree’s needs will take some time.

Indoor Bonsai

Indoor species are tropical or subtropical trees that need lots of light, high temperatures and high humidity. When placed indoors, it can be hard for these trees to receive enough light. Place these trees directly in front of a south facing window at all times. Moving these trees away from the window will be harmful, as light intensity will decrease significantly. 

Even at a south facing window, it is likely that your tree isn’t receiving enough light. This problem can be solved with artificial lighting. Also consider placing your indoor bonsai outdoors during the day in the summer. Bring in the tree when temperatures start to drop at night.

Growing Lights for Indoor Bonsai

Your indoor bonsai tree needs lots of light in order to be healthy and strong. Natural habitats for tropical and subtropical trees are very sunny and hot. It can be hard to meet your tree’s light requirements in your home. 

Artificial lighting will solve your light problem. Also called growing lights, these devices will provide the light your tree needs without any damage or hassle. Simply turn on these lights for around 10 hours a day. Fewer hours are needed in the winter.

Outdoor Bonsai

The amount of light an outdoor bonsai needs differs with each bonsai species. In general, outdoor trees prefer lots of light during the summer and don’t need much light in the winter, since they are in dormancy. 

Some species, like the Juniper bonsai, prefer to be placed in full sun all day. Species like these do not thrive in shade. Around 10 hours of constant light is preferred. Some trees will even tell you when they are receiving enough light, such as the jade bonsai. This tree’s leaves will turn red at the edges. 

Other trees, like the Japanese Maple, like lots of morning sun and afternoon shade. The shade during the day provides protection from the harsh sun so that the leaves are not damaged. 

And finally, trees like the Chinese elm can grow in full sun or in partial shade. They can be grown indoors with lots of light, or outdoors with sun in the afternoons.

Shading Nets for Outdoor Bonsai

Many bonsai leaves are very sensitive. The hot sun blazing down on your tree may very well damage its leaves. Luckily, there is a way to prevent damage: shading nets.

Shading nets are used to filter the amount and intensity of the light that bonsai trees receive. In very hot temperatures, a tree’s leaves may dry out, and the tree may require constant watering in order to stay alive. Nets are not always needed, but if you notice these symptoms on your tree, consider putting up a shading net. 

The material is categorized by how much light is infiltrated. Usually, the nets range from 40% to 80%. Nets with a 40% range are best for temperatures in the upper 80 to lower 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In climates with temperatures that get into the mid 90’s to lower 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 60% range nets work best. Finally, for desert-like climates with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, we recommend using an 80% range net. 

While every bonsai tree is different, following these guidelines should give you an idea of how much light your bonsai needs. Indoor bonsai trees need lots of light all year round. Artificial lighting is often needed to help your bonsai thrive. Outdoor species have more diverse needs. Some prefer lots of light all day long in the summer, while others like afternoon shade during the hottest hours of the day. Shading nets may be helpful in protecting your tree from the harsh sun. Nets range from 40% to 80%. You will be able to tell when your tree isn’t receiving enough light because leaves will start to drop. Your tree will look much happier when it is getting enough light!