An indoor bonsai tree not receiving enough light can be a major problem – for most bonsai. There are some indoor bonsai that thrive in environments with low light. On the other hand, bonsai that need lots of light will experience harmful and even fatal effects if they are not receiving enough light. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can get your bonsai the light that it needs, including artificial lighting and periodic outdoor placement.

Indoor Bonsai That Grow in Low Light

While most indoor bonsai must be grown indoors in order to receive as much light as possible, there are some bonsai that do not need lots of light to survive. These trees are recommended for those who live in darker, colder areas as well as those who are just starting out in the bonsai world. 

By far, the most popular indoor bonsai is the Ficus bonsai. Trees in the Ficus variety do not need lots of light, can handle low humidity, and do not like direct sunlight. Placing the Ficus at a window where it can receive indirect sunlight and no shade is best for this tree to thrive. 

The Hawaiian Umbrella bonsai is another bonsai that needs very little light and low humidity. They prefer temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. These trees do not need artificial lighting at all! Hawaiian Umbrellas can survive solely on the indirect light they receive from the sunlight. 

Another bonsai tree that grows very well in low light is the Lucky Bamboo bonsai. While not actually bamboo, their stems resemble the stems of real bamboo plants, hence the name Lucky Bamboo. They are some of the easiest bonsai to grow because of their tolerance for light. Lucky Bamboo grows very well in low light as well as lots of light.

Problems with Placing Outdoor Bonsai Inside

The biggest difference between indoor and outdoor bonsai is the fact that outdoor bonsai must go into dormancy in the winter, while indoor bonsai do not. Because of this, placing an outdoor bonsai inside can be very harmful to the tree. When placed inside, outdoor bonsai will not be able to go dormant and they will die as a result. 

If your tree looks like it is not growing properly, figure out what kind of tree you have. Maritime, continental, mediterranian, and temperate trees must be grown outdoors, while subtropical and tropical trees need to be grown indoors.

Harmful Effects of Low Light in Bonsai

Most indoor bonsai need lots of light. If your bonsai is not receiving enough light, your bonsai’s growth will slow and eventually cease. If this goes on for too long, your tree will not be able to recover. Signs of low light include yellowing leaves. These leaves will dry out and fall off the tree. It should be noted that yellowing leaves is also a sign of under-watering.

How to Give Your Bonsai Enough Light

We now know how important it is to give your tree enough light, but what can we do to give the tree plenty of light? 

First and foremost, place your indoor bonsai directly in front of a south-facing window or a window where it will receive as much light as possible. While your bonsai won’t receive direct sunlight indoors, placing the tree in front of a well-lit window will guarantee your bonsai is getting as much sunlight as possible. 

It is very likely that even in front of this window, your bonsai isn’t receiving enough light. Artificial lighting is needed for many indoor bonsai. The light intensity the tree will receive with these grow lights will greatly increase the quality of life for your tree. Leave the lights on for around 10 hours every day. Some grow lights can even automatically turn on or off at a certain time every day. 

The amount of light your bonsai receives can make or break or tree. Bonsai that can tolerate low light will, of course, thrive in this setting, but most indoor bonsai will be badly affected by low light. Those that need lots of light will benefit greatly from being placed in front of a well-lit window at all times. Grow lights can also benefit many bonsai that are not getting enough light naturally. Also keep in mind that outdoor bonsai cannot be grown indoors, and vice versa! Your bonsai will always be happier in full sun, but those who can survive it will be just fine in low light.