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Why Is My Bonsai Turning Yellow?

Bonsai means ‘tray planting.’ It is a form of art that originated in East Asia centuries ago. A bonsai tree is a replica of a full-grown tree as it would be in the wild, but scaled down so as to be grown in the comfort of your household. As with any tree, it requires set conditions to grow and thrive well. Yellowing of bonsai leaves is not an uncommon occurrence, and it is natural for some types of trees to change the color of the leaves. Sometimes it is not natural, however, and it indicates that something is wrong. This could be due to insufficient lighting, too little water, or a mineral deficiency, among other factors. Here are some of the reasons that may cause yellowing on bonsai leaves.

Watering Your Bonsai Incorrectly

Without a doubt, water is the most vital requirement for any plant to grow. Water provides the plant with all the nutrients it needs from the surrounding soil. Not only is it detrimental for a plant to be under-watered, it is also undesirable for it to be over-watered.

  1. Underwatering

When a plant is given too little water, it begins to wilt and dry up. This will be accompanied by yellowing of leaves, as the plant lacks what it needs to grow properly. You will know a plant is under-watered when it shrivels up and has droopy leavesl yellowing of the leaves soon follows. The soil is also parched.

  1. Overwatering

Just like anything else, water should always be administered in moderation. Too much is poison, since it imposes still water inside the pot. This is a harbor of deadly microorganisms that could potentially kill the plant. Still water surrounding the roots may cause them to rot and ultimately kill the plant. You should take note of any presence of mold, as this means rotting has begun.

Providing Your Bonsai With an Insufficient Amount of Light

The other main necessity for any plant to grow is light. Light is so essential that plants growing in light-deprived areas tend to grow toward the light. Like any tree, the bonsai requires a great exposure to sunlight to grow to its full potential. Light provides the plant with the energy to create its food to sustain its life. Also, chlorophyll found in the leaves of the plant gives the leaves its green color. With more sunlight, the plant produces a greater number of chlorophyll cells, which in turn bring about a vibrant green color. When a bonsai is underexposed to light, yellowing of leaves is inevitable and will lead to an unhealthy looking tree.

Type of Bonsai

You also must familiarize yourself with the nature of the tree you are rearing. Evergreen trees can remain green throughout the entire year, given their growing conditions are met. Tropical trees and conifers may be seasonal, hence changing the color of their leaves and dropping them at certain times of the year. This is hardwired into the system of the tree and no amount of care may change this. So before you panic, know the type of tree you have.

Stresses on the Bonsai

A tree is a living thing, and as with any living thing, stresses in the surrounding environment affect the tree’s general health. The plant’s environment may include the atmosphere, the soil, or features of the plant itself. Changing the soil and altering the temperature may adversely affect how a plant grows. The change in color means that the plant has not acclimated to its new surroundings and may take time before it adjusts. Hard pruning is another way you could lead your plant to ruin. When you snip away too many leaves, you limit the amount of sustainability it can generate for itself. This may lead to depleted resources and the yellowing of leaves. Always make sure to prune the tree when and only when it is healthy.

Bonsai Lacking Minerals

All plants require certain minerals to thrive to their maximum potential. This is the same case with a bonsai. When it lacks specific minerals in the soil, its leaves may turn yellow to indicate a deficiency.

Fertilizer is the needed boost required for the plant to grow healthily. It provides the plant with all the necessary nutrients which make the plant thrive. However, excess fertilizer will scorch the plant and cause it to change the color of the leaves. Fertilizer should be approached carefully and knowledgeably.

Type of Bonsai Pot

From the definition of the word bonsai, it is evident that the pot used will affect the tree. The type of pot will not only serve as the habitat of the tree but will also be aesthetically pleasing to all those who see it. A good-looking pot elevates the overall style of a tree and should be carefully considered when growing a bonsai tree. If the pot used cannot let out excess water, you will waterlog the plant and potentially kill it. Also, the roots may grow too big for the pot and require repotting.

Improper Bonsai Placement Causing Browning of Leaves

Some plants do better outdoors than indoors. The intense sunlight, humidity, and wind all work hand-in-hand to aid trees that grow outside. If these plants were to be planted indoors, it would be problematic and cause a struggle for growth. This will be indicated by the leaves turning colors. You should know the type of tree you are growing to know which conditions best suit it. Indoor bonsai trees include Jade and Ficus, while outdoor trees include the Elms and pine.

How to Revive Yellowed Leaves on Bonsai

If your bonsai tree has turned yellow and you are attempting to restore the leaves to their normal state, you should first know that this is not a process that will happen overnight. Patience is key. Keep a close eye on subtle changes and try to combat them as soon as they appear. Troubleshoot and try to find out what the likely cause of the problem is and deal with it.

Give your bonsai just the right amount of water. Do not be tempted to add water in excess as this is detrimental to the plant’s health. Only water the tree if the top of the soil is parched. Add water till it drains out the bottom, and do not add any more till you are certain the soil is dry.

Always expose the tree to enough light to continue to grow healthily. Sunlight helps in building the plant and so positioning of the plant is quite key.

Get to know your tree so you can understand why it sheds leaves. In a matter of weeks, the tree’s leaves are bound to revert back to the green you are used to. 

Make sure the soil you use is well aerated with all necessary minerals. A bonsai tree typically needs phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium for good growth.

Add fertilizer with care and make sure it is not in excess, as this will only make the problem worse. Research the type of tree and what nutritional supplement it may require for healthy growth.

Keep the tree in fairly stable conditions. Avoid drastic changes in the environment so as not to stress the plant.

You shouldn’t over-prune your tree. Make sure you prune the tree when it is healthy to avoid putting too much strain on the plant.

Growing a bonsai tree is a soothing endeavor and quite rewarding if done right. It requires your constant attention so make sure to take time out of your schedule to look after your plant and prevent yellowing before it gets out of hand.

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