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Can You Water Bonsai Trees With Tap Water | Watering \U0026 Feeding Bonsai Trees Trust The Answer

Are you looking for the topic “Can you water bonsai trees with tap water – Watering \u0026 Feeding Bonsai Trees“? We answer all your questions at the website in category: You will find the answer right below. The article written by the author Herons Bonsai has 1,458,132 views and 27,968 likes likes.

In most cases, the answer is yes. If you can drink your tap water, you can use it to water your bonsai. If you have hard tap water (leaving white salt deposits around the pot or trunk), you may want to occasionally use collected rain water, but this is not essential.If you keep your Bonsai indoors, you can place your tree in your kitchen sink and water the tree thoroughly, before placing it back. The best water you can use is rainwater because it doesn’t contain any added chemicals, but when this is not readily available there is no problem in using normal tap water.Yes, because it’s pulling them out of the soil. That’s how chemical gradients work. The water is lower than the soil, a condition exacerbated by the distillation. It’s basic chemistry.

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One of the biggest killers of Bonsai is watering, whether to much or too little. All year round receive questions on how much and when to water. In this video I give you some guidance on watering your bonsai.
Feeding is the other element to this video, how much and what type of feed I discuss here.
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Can you water bonsai trees with tap water? – Quora

In most cases, the answer is yes. If you can drink your tap water, you can use it to water your bonsai. If you have hard tap water (leaving white salt deposits …

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Tap vs. Distilled vs. R. Osmosis water | Bonsai Nut

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Watering – Bonsai Care Basics

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How To Make Tap Water Safe | Bonsai Alchemist 101

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How To Water Bonsai Trees

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How do I water my Indoor Bonsai Tree?

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Watering \u0026 Feeding Bonsai Trees
Watering \u0026 Feeding Bonsai Trees

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  • Author: Herons Bonsai
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  • Date Published: Apr 26, 2019
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What type of water do you use for a bonsai tree?

If you keep your Bonsai indoors, you can place your tree in your kitchen sink and water the tree thoroughly, before placing it back. The best water you can use is rainwater because it doesn’t contain any added chemicals, but when this is not readily available there is no problem in using normal tap water.

Can I water my bonsai with bottled water?

Yes, because it’s pulling them out of the soil. That’s how chemical gradients work. The water is lower than the soil, a condition exacerbated by the distillation. It’s basic chemistry.

Should you water bonsai with distilled water?

Distilled water or reverse osmosis water are increasingly being used to avoid the unsightly white deposits from minerals in hard water. WATERING Fuku-Bonsai indoors. Both rock plantings and potted bonsai need to be thoroughly saturated, then allowed to be almost dry before watering once per week.

Should I mist my bonsai tree?

Yes, an indoor Bonsai can benefit from misting because heating and air conditioning lowers the humidity levels to surface-of-the-moon conditions in your home. Misting brings the ambient humidity level up briefly and that’s really all the benefit you get.

How long can a bonsai tree go without water?

As a general rule, it’s really not advisable to go more than 10 days without watering, again, this can vary depending on maintenance, but it’s not something you should exceed often.

How often should I soak my bonsai?

Approximately once a week or so (when the topsoil feels completely dry) immerse the entire bonsai plant in a bucket or basin of water. Once the air bubbles have risen to the top, the bonsai has absorbed enough water. Humidity is also an important consideration for the health of the bonsai.

What does an overwatered bonsai tree look like?

Overwatering can also be detrimental for your bonsai tree. Symptoms of an overwatered bonsai include: yellowing of leaves and the shriveling of smaller branches. If a bonsai is overwatered, its roots are drowning in water and are deprived of oxygen which prevents further growth to support the tree.

Is rainwater better for bonsai?

Building up calcium and other minerals inside the bonsai soil and roots can weaken the tree while leading them to even die as well. This is the reason that rainwater is considered preferred as there is no calcium and minerals in it.

Why is my bonsai dropping leaves?

The main reason for Bonsai dropping leaves is due to improper care. It may include overwatering, underwatering, overwintering, insufficient sunlight, disease, and pest infestation.

How do I know when to water my bonsai?

The best way to tell if the bonsai needs water is to feel the soil. Stick your finger a half inch or so into the soil. If you do not feel much moisture in the top half inch of the soil, then it is likely time to water your bonsai. Remember, this is a general rule, but it may not apply to all types of bonsai.

Do bonsai trees need direct sunlight?

Location: Bonsai need direct sunlight, from which they make their food. A lack of direct sun will damage them, causing weak foliage and other problems. They like to receive 5-6 hours of sunlight daily, whether inside or outside.

Is tap water OK for plants?

Most tap water should be fine for your houseplants, unless it is softened, because softened water contains salts that can build up in the soil over time and cause problems. Chlorinated water is also safe for most houseplants, but if you have a filtration system, that’s much better for your plants.

Do plants grow better with tap water or distilled water?

In side-by-side comparisons, plants watered using distilled water tend to grow faster and stronger than those watered with tap water. We find it the “Best Water for Indoor Plants”. Plants watered with distilled pure water usually produce more leaves and grow more vigorously.

How long should tap water sit before watering plants?

If you use tap water, you may notice that your plants are not growing as tall and strong to the best of their abilities. To reduce the risk of harmful chemicals in your water, allow your tap water to sit out for at least 24 hours before using it to water your plants. This allows the chlorine to dissipate.

Bonsai Watering Frequently Asked Questions

Forget about how you water other house plants. Bonsai are different, but not difficult. Bonsai have small, confined root systems and need to be watered more frequently than a regular houseplant.

Learning to gauge the water needs of your tree is one of the most important skills you’ll develop as a bonsai gardener.

Use the answers in this FAQ as guidelines; however, they should not substitute the detailed care guide you may have received with the purchase of your bonsai.

How often should I water my bonsai?

No single watering schedule can be applied to a bonsai. Unlike a houseplant, bonsai can dry out quickly because they are planted in coarse soil and shallow pots. There are many factors that will determine your watering frequency: for example, temperature, lighting conditions, type of soil, and the changing season. After a few weeks and a perhaps little research, you will get to know your bonsai and become familiar with its watering requirements.

How do I know when my bonsai needs water?

The best way to tell if the bonsai needs water is to feel the soil. Stick your finger a half inch or so into the soil. If you do not feel much moisture in the top half inch of the soil, then it is likely time to water your bonsai. Remember, this is a general rule, but it may not apply to all types of bonsai. For example, a succulent bonsai such as a Jade will welcome a dry period. That’s ehy it is important to research your bonsai and read your care guide.

With time, you will get to know when your tree needs to be watered by observing the foliage or just by the weight of the pot. The drier the tree, the lighter it will feel.

How should I water my bonsai?

There are two methods to watering your bonsai. The overhead watering method uses a hose or watering can. Make sure you deliver a fine spray of water, otherwise a strong blast of water can dislodge soil or damage your bonsai. We recommend using a watering can rosette for just the right spray.

To water, simply pour over the plant and allow it to flow into the soil. If water puddles on the surface of the soil, let it drain into the soil and water again. Keep going until water begins to run out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Have a humidity tray to catch the dripping watering and protect your furniture. Keep watering for a minute or two more to make sure the entire soil mass is soaked.

The immersion method is the most popular and cost–effective method for watering an indoor bonsai. Fill a bucket or sink full of water to the point where the water should be about one inch up the trunk of your bonsai. As you submerge your tree, you will see bubbling from the root ball. Pay close attention. The vigorousness of this bubbling will indicate just how much water your tree needs. As you become more in tune to your bonsai, you will come to recognize various levels of bubbling. If your tree produces bubbles like boiling water, chances are that you’re not watering enough. If it bubbles slowly, you may not be watering enough. Keep your bonsai immersed until bubbles stop rising to the surface. When they are done, so are you. No more bubbles means that the root mass is thoroughly soaked. Slowly remove the tree and allow it to drain.

While submerging your tree for a few minutes won’t hurt it, it may wash soil, rocks, and fertilizer away. Make sure you keep plenty of extra supplies on hand. Humidity trays can help too. A soaked bonsai may need to drain for several minutes, and humidity trays can help trap the water. If you are displaying your bonsai on fine furniture, you should consider placing your tree on a well-matched bonsai stand. Why risk water damage or other unsightly water marks?

Should I water all my bonsai at the same time?

Probably not. Watering daily without knowing the condition of the bonsai soil could result in over watering. Some bonsai may require water on a daily basis, especially during hot summer days. Follow the steps above to determine if your bonsai needs water.

What time of day should I water my bonsai?

We talk to a lot of bonsai gardeners, and the only rule of thumb is to avoid watering during the hottest time of the day when your bonsai is exposed to full sun. Try watering your bonsai in the late afternoon or evening to ensure that your soil remains moist all night and into the morning. If it is very hot during the day and your tree is in the full sun, it may need an additional drink. But, take care not to water or splash moisture on the foliage if watering your bonsai during full sun. The sun’s rays may cause water droplets to act as a lens and potentially burning its leaves.

Can I use regular tap water?

In most cases, the answer is yes. If you can drink your tap water, you can use it to water your bonsai. If you have hard tap water (leaving white salt deposits around the pot or trunk), you may want to occasionally use collected rain water, but this is not essential. The purpose of the rain water is to rid the soil of any build up of salts. A tip: if your tap water has a lot of chlorine it is a good idea to let it sit overnight in the watering can. That way the chlorine evaporates and your bonsai will appreciate the clean water.

Do I need to mist my bonsai?

Misting is a method of creating humidity for your bonsai. Misting will clean and refresh foliage, but it is not a substitute for watering. When misting, only give the foliage a brief spritz. Do not drench your bonsai. Misting only creates a temporary humid atmosphere. If you are going to mist your bonsai, consider using a gentle water mister like the Haws Water Mister.

Most indoor bonsai require humidity, especially during the winter months. In winter, central heat will dry out the air and any moisture in the room. Fortunately, there are some easy and inexpensive methods to increase humidity around your bonsai.

To increase humidity by evaporation, place your bonsai on a flat tray filled with river pebbles and water. The tray should be larger than your bonsai pot by an inch or two on each side. Fill the water regularly. As it evaporates, the humidity around your bonsai will increase. Stones provide a decorative surface for displaying the tree and elevate the bonsai pot above water to prevent root rot. Humidity trays make watering simple, provide essential humidity for your tree, and protect furniture from stain and damage. For a few dollars it is worth the investment.

Do I need to use a special bonsai watering can?

No, but it will be one of the best investment you make. Rarely do you hear bonsai gardeners comparing notes on their favorite watering cans. However, serious gardeners know that a quality watering can is an essential tool and will make watering bonsai a pleasure rather than a chore.

Watering cans may seem to function in essentially the same way, but there are some major differences among them. The most important differences for a bonsai gardener are the length and shape of the spout. A standard-sized spout is ideal for all-purpose watering and fertilizing, but a brass rose spout, sometimes called a rosette, works best for mimicking a soft rain shower, which is what your bonsai is accustomed to and will help it thrive.

We recommend Haws English watering cans, which are famous for their splendid designs and generally considered the best watering cans money can buy. But more importantly, they are perfect for watering bonsai. The long curve spouts are designed to control the flow of water. The s mall holes in the rose soften water flow so it’s gentle enough for tender bonsai seedlings and won’t wash away the soil every time you water your bonsai.

How do I water my bonsai when I go on vacation?

If you’re leaving for a few days, you probably have nothing to worry about. Bonsai like to get a little dry in between watering’s, but they must never be allowed to become bone dry. If you are leaving for several days or weeks, ask a friend to come over and water your bonsai. There is no substitute to having a person water your bonsai.

You can purchase a “vacation drip” watering tool, but these should only be used in the event a friend forgets to water your bonsai for a day or two. The bonsai dripper allows a slow trickle of water and never lets your bonsai accidentally dry out. We don’t recommend using a watering drip for several weeks at a time.

Another vacation option is to water your bonsai and then wrap a plastic bag around the pot and soil. Close the bag around the trunk with a wire tie. You do not have to enclose the entire bonsai, just the soil so it does not dry out. You don’t want to place your bonsai near the hot sun, but you do need bright light and a place where your bonsai will stay cool. If you plan on trying this vacation method, please do so before you go on vacation. This will allow you to observe your bonsai health and see how long you can it can go without water.

Remember, your bonsai is not a plant and it will not revive itself with a splash of water like a plant will. Your best option is always to have a person monitor and water your bonsai while on vacation.

DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Bonsai Outlet. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. Happy bonsai gardening.

Watering Bonsai; how to water your trees

How often should I water my Bonsai?

As mentioned previously, how often a Bonsai needs to be watered depends on many factors, and providing an exact guide is not possible. Instead, you need to observe your trees individually. The following guidelines will teach you what to look out for and how to identify when to water your Bonsai:

Water your trees when the soil gets slightly dry

Be sure not to water your tree if the soil is still wet, but don’t let the tree dry out either. As a beginner, use your fingers at about one centimeter deep, (0.4″) to check the soil moisture. If it’s slightly dry, go ahead and water your tree. This will become more obvious as you gain experience. You’ll be able to see, rather than feel when your tree needs watering. Never water on a routine

Keep a close eye on your trees individually to determine when each one needs watering. Avoid watering all of your trees on a daily routine, until you know exactly what you are doing. Use the right soil-mixture

The soil-mixture greatly influences how often trees need to be watered. Most Bonsai trees thrive on a mixture of akadama, pumice, and lava rock in a ratio of ½ to ¼ to ¼. However, if you are not able to water regularly, you can use a mixture that retains more water by using more akadama or even using compost in your potting. Read the Bonsai soil mixtures article for more information

Most of the water will flow right out of the pot when watering this tree. The roots are too compacted so the soil-mass won’t be able to absorb much water. This tree needs to be repotted!

When? It doesn’t matter what time you water a Bonsai. Some experts do advise not to use cold water when the soil is warm from being in the sun because it cools the tree too. Although this is something that you could keep in mind, you should water your tree as soon as the soil gets slightly dry, no matter what time it is. How to water Bonsai trees? When you’ve determined that the soil is slightly dry and the tree needs water, make sure to thoroughly soak the entire root system. Keep watering until water runs out of the bottom drainage holes, and possibly repeat the process a few minutes later. Pour water from above using a watering can with a fine nozzle to prevent the soil from being washed away. If you keep your Bonsai indoors, you can place your tree in your kitchen sink and water the tree thoroughly, before placing it back. The best water you can use is rainwater because it doesn’t contain any added chemicals, but when this is not readily available there is no problem in using normal tap water. There are some good Automated Bonsai Watering systems out there, but they are quite costly. Watering Bonsai trees is one of the topics in our online Bonsai course, made specifically for beginners. For more information and a free lesson, see the Bonsai Beginners Course.

bottled spring water good?

Hi all,

As you see im brand new member here, and I am really happy to have joined. Though, I will postpone my introduction for little later.

Let me get straight on the point now –

I am watering my indoor Ficus Microcarpa with bottled spring water for a month now. I do that approx 1 time a week. So far tree looks good and growing. Some leaves dropped, but got bunch of new greenies. Here in my country we have plenty of spring water as we have lots of mountains around. The bottled spring water I buy and use on the tree is very low on minerals – 98% demineralized by reverse osmosis. In addition, water is ozoned, and with overall pH of ~7.3. The water is 100% natural and free of chemical compounds and recommended for babies and pregnants. I decided to try this type of water as I dont think rain water in the city is ok and in the same time i want to avoid tap water as to provide best for my tree.

I really want to know what experts and others think on that type of water for bonsai?

Have anyone of you tried that? Are there pros and cons? Please let me know your thoughts, I am very curious.

Tap vs. Distilled vs. R. Osmosis water

Bnana said: It doesn’t make sense to think about pH without considering alkalinity. You can have a pretty extreme pH but with a very low alkalinity this will not change the pH in your pot, the effect of the potting soil and the plant will simply overrule this.

Having very hard water might be an issue as it results in the accumulation of salts. But even than it should be okay if your plants drain regularly.

Chlorine/chloramine are unlikely to be a problem for your plants but I would not consider that decent drinking water. If the water production is clean and well controlled the water is safe anyway. If they need to add this it means they are not doing their job properly. Click to expand…

Not pointing fingers, but I’m reading a lot of posts from people who have never lived in an area with extremely bad water.Southern California – high pH, hard water with moderate alkalinity, high dissolved sodium, high chloramine. Put 6″ of untreated city water into a 5′ deep koi pond, and watch it kill 24″ koi… but it is supposed to be ok for you to drink. 8.5 pH out of the tap… going into naturally high pH soils like pumice and lava with limited/no organic matter that would naturally suppress soil pH rise. When people think about alkalinity buffering pH swings, they often lose sight of the fact that soil in containers can rapidly see their buffering capacity exhausted by repeated applications of water. Yes, the first watering might have minimal impact. But after twice daily waterings over the course of a year or more? Have you ever seen a bonsai pot in Southern California and all of the insoluble solids crusting all over its surface?I’m not trying to knock anyone in this thread, but all tap water is not equal. And you have to consider the soil in the container as well. High pH soil and high pH water? Where do you think you are going to get your acid to drop the pH into a healthy 6.0 range so you can grow acid-loving trees like maples and oaks?In California commercial growers will often add sulfur to the soil to lower the pH. Here in North Carolina, you will often find people adding lime to their soil to raise pH. No one would hopefully suggest that you would follow the same rules for both locations.Just saying that I moved over 100 trees across the country from SoCal and saw the majority explode with healthy new growth – looking better than I have ever seen them. Meanwhile I had a minority of desert natives that prefered alkaline conditions that immediately went into decline. And of course… olives that didn’t give a crap either way[EDIT] Quick edit. Also understand that in some parts of the West, irrigation water makes up 95% or more of your annual bonsai water. Until you experience it, it is hard to appreciate what it is like to go 9 months straight without a DROP of rain. pH rise in container soils is probably less of an issue when 50% or more of your water comes from naturally acidic rain.[/EDIT]

How To Make Tap Water Safe


Chlorine is a very vicious chemical. It’s commonly used by homeowners to kill off algae in swimming pools, but chlorine was also used as the main agent of chemical warfare in WWI.

If you breathe in chlorine in its gaseous form, the chlorine gas, combined with hydrogen in the air, reacts with water particles in the lungs to form hydrochloric acid. This acid eats into the lung tissue and causes death by suffocation within a few minutes, even at a concentration of as little as 0.1% chlorine in the air.

Chlorine is also used in drinking water. Of course, it’s a good thing if all the pathogens in the water get killed off before you drink it: for example, the chlorination of drinking water has been effective in almost completely wiping out cholera, which is a very nasty water-borne disease.

On the other hand, though, the idea of putting such a dangerous agent of chemical warfare into one’s body – not to mention, using it to water one’s precious bonsais – is quite off-putting.

But actually, having chlorine in your tap water is not a very serious problem. The amount that gets added to your municipal tap water varies – at times, there is even enough to smell and/or taste – but it is seldom sufficient to do much harm to plants. When chlorine does damage plants, the damage is usually done to the tips of the roots; this prevents them from being able to absorb nutrients properly and may affect their overall growth.

Because bonsais are so tiny, it’s even more important for each one of their tiny roots to be able to absorb enough nutrients. Fortunately, chlorine is not very long-lived. If you leave your watering can full of water to stand for 24 hours, the chlorine will take on its gaseous form, and dissipate completely into the air by the next day.


Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in some rocks; it’s released from the rocks into the soil, and can therefore also make its way into groundwater, and from there, into tap water. However, the amounts of fluoride found naturally in water are typically pretty low.

Moreover, different cities use various types of purification and filtration for the water that they then pipe into people’s homes – and some of those purification and filtration systems also remove the fluoride. But fluoride is incredibly effective in protecting teeth against decay and cavities.

Therefore, in order to enable their communities to benefit from the excellent effects of fluoride on dental health, most municipalities (in the USA and around the world) add extra fluoride to tap water before they pipe it into people’s homes.

Using tap water that has added fluoride to water plants can lead to an unhealthy build-up of fluoride in the plant’s tissues (especially the leaves). Fluoride moves through the plants as they absorb the fluoride-rich water; when water evaporates out of the leaves, the fluoride from the water stays behind and builds up at the edges of the leaves.

At the very least, this can reduce the plants’ ability to carry out photosynthesis, and it can even lead to fluoride toxicity. This causes portions of the leaves to get dry and brittle, turn yellow or brown, and even die. In fact, fluoride toxicity affects plants in much the same way as salt toxicity or even drought stress. Some areas on the edges and tips of the leaves can die; however, the plant itself is not usually killed.

The plants that are sensitive to having too much fluoride in their water all seem to be the ones with long, thin leaves (like spider plants, or dracaena). These leaves display brown spots or scorch marks, especially at the tips and along the margins, if they have been damaged by fluoride.

Young plants seem to be more vulnerable to fluoride damage than more mature plants, and again, bonsais might be more susceptible to the effects of fluoride than full-sized trees. However, fluoride dissipates into the air within about 24h, just as chlorine does. If you have a problem with fluoride in your water, just put it in a watering can, or any container, and let it stand overnight before use.

How To Water Bonsai Trees

One of the essential aspects of caring for a bonsai tree is to properly water it for best growth and development. A bonsai tree has no difference. In fact, the bonsai plants that die because of dehydration. Thus, properly watering your bonsai tree is the key to keep it healthy and alive.

In this tutorial, we will share with you a comprehensive guide on how to water your bonsai trees the right way. There are many facts, methods, and tips, as well as misconceptions when it comes to watering bonsai plants. You will gain the right knowledge, skills, and attitude in properly watering your bonsai trees. Here are the topics we will be covering today:

Factors Affecting the Water Requirement of Bonsai Trees When is the Best Time Water Your Bonsai How to Check Soil Moisture Using Soil Moisture Meter Using the Finger Method Using the Chopstick Method Methods in Watering Bonsai Trees Step-by-step Guide to Watering Bonsai Trees Watering Facts and Tips Most Common Watering Problems in Bonsai Trees Underwatering Overwatering Root Rot

1) Factors Affecting the Water Requirements of Bonsai Trees

Watering is a very important aspect of taking care of bonsai trees. The frequency of how a bonsai tree needs watering highly depends on different factors indicating that it’s impossible to determine how often you need to water your bonsai tree. Here are the factors affecting the drying time and water requirements of bonsai trees:

Soil Mixture

The main components that hold water include inorganic and organic fines, clay, vermiculite, and peat moss. If you’ll increase these amendments’ amount to your soil mix, you’ll decrease its drainage, and in return increase the soil’s water holding capacity. This will increase the watering intervals of your bonsai tree. However, do not increase the volume for more than 25% because, beyond this point, root rot problems can form due to poor drainage and decreased aeration.

The soil components that can increase aeration and drainage, and reduce the soil water holding capacity include some organic and inorganic large particles that are greater than 1/8 inch such as bark, coarse sand, surface, lava rock, perlite, and other types of clay products (stable fired).

Plant Size and Pruning

The fast-growing bonsai leafy species may colonize rapidly, leading to drying out of the soil. Properly root-colonized bonsai plants and rootbound can dry a pot rapidly. The rapid soil drying is healthy for your bonsai plant if you are able to manage to water enough. Remember that every time your bonsai tree dries out, it is pulling a freshly charged air into the plant’s root zone.

Every time your bonsai tree is watered and excessive water drains, another freshly charged air goes through the root zone. For outdoor bonsai plants, the ideal watering interval is one day, thus making watering easy to schedule remember. It will almost surely prevent bonsai root rot problems. If the cycles are shorter than a day, it can inevitably lead to dry and wilted plants on some occasions.

Bonsai trees that are well root-colonized in the container or pot can shorten the watering interval because the top will grow and will demand more water. After a bonsai plant’s top is pruned, there is decreased transpiration, and there is an increased watering interval. For bonsai plants that are highly susceptible to root rot, it’s very important to pay attention to this important factor.


Fertilizer or nutrients can accelerate the soil’s drying time by affecting the speed of a bonsai tree will grow. Fertilizer can hasten the decomposition of the soil’s organic portion. This causes the soil’s premature collapse, thus increasing the soil’s drying time and slowing the growth of your bonsai.

Soil collapse because of decomposition is an overlooked factor in a bonsai plant’s growth as well as watering intervals, but this can be prevented with the use of a higher percentage of high-quality organic materials and stable inorganic materials like pine or fir bark. The wood fiber products that decomposed apart from bark quickly decompose v and are not suitable for most bonsai species, and the same with garden or other types of compost.


Bonsai plants with root rot have decreased the ability to take up water and may slow the soil’s drying time. When it comes to the symptoms of a root damage, they can be somehow misleading. There diseases that may cause the blockage of a bonsai tree’s vascular system that can prevent it from absorbing water. The wilting of leaves is an outward symptom.

A gardener’s natural inclination is watering the bonsai plant, but the real problem is not actually a lack of water, but rather it’s the inability to absorb water due to root problems. By doing so, it will lead to overwatering that can severely exacerbate the fungal problem. Let the bonsai plant dry out, and don’t water it. Whenever your bonsai plant wilts, the soil should be checked o make sure it is dry before you water it. If it’s not dry, this is a probably a symptom of root rot or fungal infection.


The wind can increase transpiration and thereby decrease your bonsai plant’s watering interval. Remember that strong winds, under moderate temperatures, can rapidly dry out any plant including bonsai trees. Some plants and trees are more vulnerable as compared to others.

Generally, you shouldn’t place your bonsai tree in an area that frequently receives prevailing winds. This is a problem that occurs commonly during winter because the soil becomes frozen, thus affecting the bonsai plant’s roots, wherein they cannot absorb water properly under these conditions. The stems and foliage continue to lose water. You need to protect your bonsai plants from the wind under these given conditions, and to ensure that they are thoroughly watered just prior to the onset of very cold drying winds.


The sunlight can heat your bonsai tree and the pot, thus increasing transpiration as well as evaporation, and the watering interval is decreased. The bonsai trees that are grown in the driest and hottest areas of the country require relocation so they’ll get early morning sun as well as afternoon shade.

Keep in mind that the fastest growth of your bonsai will occur where there are a bright light and moderately optimum temperatures, so there’s little growth loss by placing your bonsai tree in a shaded area during the afternoon heat. Optimum light levels positively result in a fast growth of your bonsai tree and decrease the drying time by encouraging increased foliage.

High Temperature and Humidity

High temperature can increase transpiration and reduce drying time, and this is true even if sunlight is absent. The temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with early morning to full sun, means that watering is needed every day for most established bonsai plants, along with low to moderate humidity.

High humidity decreases transpiration, and moderately high temperature, that can increase drying time. Increasing the humidity plays an important role in extending the bonsai’s watering cycle in very hot dry climates.

Pot Size

An additional soil volume increases the water reservoir and increases drying time. This is a must for water-thirsty and fast-growing bonsai species. Small containers or pots dry out faster as compared to large ones.


Many of the above-mentioned factors can be manipulated in order to control the drying to suit your bonsai plant’s conditions. The species of bonsai, types of potting soil, location, and potting duration can also affect the water requirements of your bonsai tree.

Here is a video about watering a bonsai tree correctly.

2) When is the Best Time to Water Your Bonsai

Water your bonsai trees when the soil feels slightly dry. There is no rule about the best time to water a bonsai plant. Avoid watering though during the afternoon with cold water, because the soil has already been warmed up by the sunlight and will tend to cool down quickly. Although this should be considered, you can water your bonsai tree any time when the soil is slightly dry.

Don’t water your bonsai tree when the soil is still wet. Just water it if it feels and looks slightly dry. There are many methods used in checking the soil’s dryness or moisture levels, which will be discussed below. Never let your bonsai tree completely dry out. You’ll be able to see when your bonsai tree needs watering instead of feeling it as you get more knowledgeable and experienced.

Always keep this in mind, never water your bonsai tree on a routine schedule. Rather than watering daily, just observe your bonsai trees individually, until you know very well exactly what you’re doing. There are many factors to be considered on how often you need to water your bonsai trees as previously discussed, and following the right guidelines will make your bonsai trees happy because you provide them water as they need it.

3) How to Check Soil Moisture

It is important to ensure that the soil where you plant your bonsai will never become dry. Checking the soil on a daily basis is crucial to determine if it’s time to water your bonsai plants. As with any other plant that’s in a pot or container, your bonsai tree’s need for water greatly varies from its size, the pot size and type, and your plant’s location. When checking the soil moisture, there are effective ways to do so.

Using a Soil Moisture Meter

When caring a bonsai tree, it important to know when is the best time to water it for a more successful maintenance. Whether you’re an expert or beginner, a moisture meter is a valuable tool instead of taking the guesswork every time you water.

A moisture meter measures the moisture of the soil at root level. It is used to prevent overwatering and underwatering. The scale ranges from 1 or dry to 10 or wet.

When using a moisture meter, you simply need to insert the probe at root ball level.

Take note of the moisture level.

Water your bonsai tree as necessary, usually at level “3” for many species of bonsai. Remove the probe from the soil.

Wipe the moisture meter clean after every use.

Store the moisture meter in a dry place.

Using the Finger Method

You can stick your finger to check the soil moisture, which is about 1 inch deep. This usually works, but sometimes, it is difficult to gauge if the soil is moist using your fingers, most especially if it feels cold. It is also a bit off after testing several bonsai trees. With these, you can use wooden chopsticks to check the soil moisture.

Using the Chopstick Method

Things You’ll Need

Wooden chopsticks (plain, not treated or stained), tongue depressor, or popsicle stick

Step #1: Insert a wooden chopstick into the soil at around 1 to 2 inches deep. This is about halfway from the main stem of your bonsai plant and the rim, being careful of the roots. It is okay to check soil moisture of all potted plants and bonsai trees at the same time, using a different chopstick for every plant to avoid contamination of fungus and other harmful microorganisms that might be present in the soil.

Step #2: You can leave the chopstick in the soil for about 10 minutes. Doing so will allow enough time for the chopstick or popsicle to absorb any water within the soil.

Step #3: Pull out or remove the chopstick and check it. If the chopstick or popsicle has darkened or if it has a watermark, the soil is moist. If it’s dry, and there’s no change in color, it’s the perfect time to water your bonsai plant. If there’s a slight color change, it means that the soil is just slightly moist. You need to recheck the soil after a day or two.

Step #4: It is time to rinse the chopstick, popsicle, or tongue depressor off. Just set aside for it to dry. You can reuse it for checking your bonsai tree the next time.


You can also check the dryness or moisture of the soil by simply lifting the pot but this is only suitable and applicable for smaller bonsai plants (not more than 5 gallons). It takes the experience to develop the skill in feeling and looking at a dry bonsai. Soil dryness and moisture can be tested by using your finger and the chopstick method, but the best method is using a soil moisture meter which gives more accurate results.

4) Methods in Watering Bonsai Trees

Natural Bonsai Watering by Rainfall

The important aspect of watering bonsai trees is not just watering the soil in the container or pot. When watering your bonsai tree, the best technique follows an old practice of Japanese about caring for bonsai trees. This method involves the simulation of natural rainfall, soaking the soil until the water runs out of the drainage holes of the pot. Let the water soak the soil for 15 to 20 minutes. After which, soaking the soil again is done until the water runs out of the drainage holes again.

You can mist the foliage on your bonsai tree to keep the leaves free of dust and to keep the breathing holes or the leaf stomata open. The natural watering of rainfall is good for your bonsai. However, it may not be sufficient so you need to water even if it rained. Most often than not, the rain will only soak the soil’s top layer, that’s why you still need to check moisture level or dryness of the soil to know if your bonsai tree requires more water. If ever your place has been receiving excessive rain, you can prop up the pot of your bonsai tree to allow draining of the excess water.

Watering Cans and Water Hoses

If you will use an overly concentrated stream of water, the soil will likely be washed out. If you have a small bonsai collection, you can use a small watering-can that is fitted with a fine rose. This is sufficient to thoroughly water the soil without displacing it.

If you want to use a hose, just turn it on a low-pressure or mist setting. The excessive pressure from the water hose may unsettle the soil. You can also use a water hose that is fitted with a spray gun or set to mist, or shower setting.

Drip Irrigation Systems

You can also water your bonsai trees using a drip irrigation system. You can use an automatic drip system with a timer.

Large Collections

Large Collections are applicable for those who have too many bonsai trees. These are timed overhead sprinkler systems or automatic irrigation systems. When you have a nursery or you prefer to have a large collection, automatic systems are the best. You can run your system once a day during winter. In summer, you can run it twice a day. You can also seasonally vary the length of time for each watering session.

When it’s the rainy season, you can just turn it off and water your bonsai trees by hand. Bear in mind that automatic irrigation systems also have drawbacks. They can also break down, like any other system. They can also be inconsistent in various zones, creating too much water when it rains and getting clogged.

“Dunking” or Watering by Immersion

Watering bonsai trees by immersion can be done. If your bonsai tree is completely dried out, it can be a good quick fix. but it’s not always a good idea. Frequent water immersion can cause compact soil leading to root damage.

If ever you find it’s necessary to regularly “dunk” your bonsai tree because water is not properly absorbed, your bonsai may actually need repotting. Most likely, your bonsai tree needs to be placed in a different soil mix. Fast draining and coarse type of bonsai soil are not problematic with watering using “dunking”.


Now, you can choose the best watering method for your bonsai trees. Regardless of the method you use, it is important to determine the bonsai species, soil moisture, and other factors we previously discussed.

5) Step-by-step Guide to Watering Bonsai Trees

Step #1: Check the soil moisture using a moisture meter. You can also do the finger method or chopstick method. Once you determine the soil is slightly dry 1 inch deep from the soil or it is dry out, proceed with the next steps.

Step #2: Prepare the things you need (water can, water hose, and suitable water for your bonsai).

Step #3: Water your bonsai tree from the top using a water hose with a fine nozzle to prevent washing away the soil. Just keep watering until the water comes out from the pot’s drainage holes. Thoroughly water your bonsai until the entire roots system is wet.

Step #4: Water your bonsai after a few minutes. Use the learning you had on the previous topics to make sure you are watering your bonsai plants the right way.

6) Watering Facts and Tips

Watering your bonsai tree every day may or may not be necessary. It is best to check the soil first for the moisture level or dryness. Water your bonsai if it feels slightly dry.

Water your bonsai trees with plain tap water. If you have a hard tap water, it is helpful to occasionally water them with rainwater to get rid any salt build up in the soil and if salt deposits begin to appear around trunk base or pot. You can collect rainwater in a water butt that is attached to shed or house downpipe.

If a bonsai vendor recommends watering by immersion, you can suspect that this is because the bonsai tree is planted in a poor soil, making it difficult to water properly. The bonsai tree will be weak, will grow slowly, and may have root-related problems.

Don’t water your bonsai tree using a water hose that has been laying under the sun. You need to first run through water in the hose for a few minutes in order to cool it off.

If your bonsai plant has flowers, make sure not to hit the flowers when you’re watering your bonsai tree. It may kill the fruits and pretty blooms.

Remember that every bonsai tree is different. The right schedule for one bonsai tree may not be appropriate for the other. That’s why you need to check your bonsai plants daily to determine its watering needs

Allow the soil to dry just a little in between watering to ensure that you’re not overwatering your bonsai. Overwatering can be fatal to bonsai plants.

Watering Facts: Most Common Questions

Question #1: Can I use the regular tap water we have at home?

Absolutely yes! If you can safely drink your tap water, then, by all means, use it to also water your bonsai tree. If ever you have hard tap water, it may leave white salt deposits on the bonsai trunk or around the pot. It is important to occasionally collect and use rainwater to get rid the salt buildup in the soil. If ever your tap water has a lot of chlorine, just let it sit overnight to evaporate chlorine in the watering can.

Question #2: Do I need to frequently mist my precious bonsai?

Misting creates humidity for your precious bonsai tree. Misting can help in cleaning and refresh the foliage of your bonsai tree. However, misting is not a substitute for full watering. When you are misting tour bonsai, only give its foliage a brief of spritz. Don’t drench your bonsai. Misting will only create a temporary and humid atmosphere for your plant. If you’re going to mist your bonsai, it is essential to use a gentle water mister.

Question #3: How to increase humidity in winter?

In winter months, most indoor bonsai species require humidity. During winter, the central heat can dry out the air, and moisture in the room. Luckily, there are easy and affordable methods to increase the humidity indoors and around your bonsai trees.

To increase the humidity level by evaporation, you can place your bonsai on a flat tray that is filled with water and river pebbles. The flat tray must be larger than the bonsai pot by 1 to 2 inches on each side. Make sure to fill the water on a regular basis. As the water evaporates, the humidity level around the bonsai tree will increase. The stones can provide a decorative surface so you can display your bonsai tree and elevate your bonsai pot above the water to prevent the occurrence of root rot. With humidity trays, watering is made simple, providing the essential humidity for your bonsai tree, and protecting your furniture from damage and stain. For a few dollars, humidity tray is really worth the investment.

Question #4: Do I need to invest and use a special watering can for my bonsai?

No. However, it is a great investment you’ll make. If you are a serious bonsai gardener, you know that investing in a quality watering can is a very important tool, making watering a bonsai tree more fun and exciting!

Watering cans may seemingly function the same way as standard ones. However, there are major differences among watering cans. One is the shape and length of the spout. The standard-size of the spout is best for all-purpose watering as well as fertilizing. However, a brass rose spout or referred to as a “rosette” still works best for mimicking a soft and gentle rain shower. The gentle rainfall pressure is what most bonsai trees are accustomed to, helping them to thrive.

Question #5: How do I water my precious bonsai trees when I go on a long trip or vacation?

If ever you’re leaving for a couple of days, you can ask a friend or relative to come over and water your precious bonsai trees. If you’ll be away for just a few days, you have nothing to really worry about because bonsai plants like to get a slightly dry in between watering sessions, but not very dry.

You can buy a “vacation drip”. It is a watering tool that you can use when you have no other person to entrust the watering of your bonsai trees. It should only be utilized in the event that a friend or relative forgets or missed watering your bonsai tree for a day or two. A bonsai dripper will allow a slow trickle of water, so your bonsai will not dry out. The use of a watering drip watering tool for several weeks is not recommended.

You can also water your bonsai tree and then you wrap it in a plastic bag. Wrap it around the pot and the soil. Close the plastic bag around the bonsai trunk using a wire tie. Don’t enclose the whole bonsai tree, just the soil to avoid drying out. Don’t put your bonsai tree near the hot and direct sun. However, you need a bright light and a spot where your bonsai tree will stay cool. Do this before you go on a vacation so you can observe the health of your bonsai tree, and see how long it can manage without water.


These facts and tips are important to the health and well-being of your bonsai trees when it comes to watering. Apply the best practices and gain the right experience to be a good bonsai grower.

7) Most Common Watering Problems on Bonsai Trees

Bonsai plants greatly rely on a continuous flow of water in order to stay alive and to properly grow and develop. Water is readily absorbed from the soil compost into the bonsai roots through osmosis, wherein the water is pulled up from the body of the bonsai plant and then released into the air through its foliage.

The process of osmosis allows the bonsai tree to distribute essential nutrients throughout the other parts or its structure. But without a source of enough moisture for the bonsai roots. There is an interruption in the flow of water and the bonsai tree’s structure collapses and dries out quickly.


Your bonsai tree, like any other types of cultivated plants, needs moisture at their root system to thrive. Without a continuous source of moisture, your bonsai tree is unable to continue living. It will initially lose leaves, then its branches and finally your whole bonsai tree may die. Never allow the soil compost to dry out completely because underwatering is one quick way to kill your bonsai.

The effects of underwatering are usually immediate. The signs of underwatered bonsai include:

Yellowing or drying to leaves

Browning leaves

Dry soil

Soil moisture level below 3

Facts About Underwatered Plants

Established trees and plants growing in the ground usually have the ability to ‘adjust’ when there are low water levels and to their natural habitat. However, if there’s not enough available water to the root system, it will spread out reaching the soil until it acquires enough moisture. Plants that are growing in areas that are relatively dry will have root systems that are far-reaching, continuing to spread out until it reaches a reliable moisture source.

On the other hand, plants and trees that grow in damp conditions where moisture is permanently and steadily available, it will tend to develop shallow root systems as they gain access to soil moisture.

In pots, bonsai trees lose their ability to regulate moisture exposure. They are unable to govern the amount of water it is able to access. The soil compost present in a bonsai pot or container is less stable as compared to the soil present in the ground. There is increased possibility for bonsai trees to dry out. It is affected by the environmental influence of the surrounding temperature and the weather.

How to Resolve Underwatering

Watering your underwatered bonsai tree by immersion or “dunking” can provide a quick fix. The tips of leaves and branches are the first areas to be affected, followed by branches. The trunk and eventually the roots collapse and dry out. When this happens, it is unlikely that your bonsai tree can survive without experiencing a major damage, and the application of water is too late.


It is important to water your bonsai but too much water can be fatal. In Japan, it takes about 3 years for a bonsai gardener to learn the art and science of watering bonsai trees correctly.

Effects of Overwatering

The effects of overwatering are more subtle. They can take a long period of time to be detected. Overwatering a soil that is water-retentive creates a permanently wet environment for the bonsai root system. The roots of bonsai require oxygen to be able to ‘breathe’. Excessive water in airless and water-retentive soil reduces the soil compost’s ability to absorb air. It may cause suffocation of the fine root hairs and eventually die. Loss of vigor is the immediate effect of overwatering because the root parts are unable to grow and dieback.

Eventually, the dead roots begin to rot. The naturally occurring microorganisms like bacteria colonize the dead tissues. In a very wet soil, compost bonsai roots that are diseased may not able to survive. The root-rotting bacteria spread to the root system, slowing or stopping the ability of your bonsai tree to seal any remaining live bonsai root-tips. The roots become smaller, supporting less of the bonsai tree’s visible top.

If your bonsai tree is planted in a well-drained or good quality soil, it is really impossible to overwater it. Root rot is a result of a bonsai tree that is growing in a poor-draining soil that usually remains wet and airless. It causes the bonsai roots to die.

Signs of Overwatered Bonsai Trees

The foliage on the bonsai tree will begin to turn yellow and drop.

The smaller branches may shrivel.

The stems may die back.

When a live portion of the bonsai root-ball becomes smaller, it is unable to support the trunk and primary branches, causing the bonsai plant to die.

How to Treat Overwatered Bonsai Trees

Step #1: Remove your bonsai tree from its container or pot.

Step #2: Check the roots. If they’re brown and mushy instead of white and firm, and in wet compost, falling away and smelling like decay, you have to remove as much of these things as possible.

Step #3: Only retain the roots that are healthy and firm. Snipe off any yellowing leaves or dying leaves. If you happen to remove a large amount of root mass, you can snip off a similar proportion of the bonsai tree’s top growth because it won’t be able to absorb and draw up sufficient water to support extra leave if the root system is compromised. It may seem extreme, but it will put less stress on an already sick bonsai plant.

Step#4: Give your bonsai tree a good rinse. Pot your bonsai up in a new container along with a fresh growing mix. You can use the original pot as long as it’s thoroughly scrubbed with a hot water and detergent to remove any traces of the infected bonsai compost.

Step #5: You can water your bonsai tree well with a cold camomile tea. It contains a dilute solution of naturally occurring antifungal properties and antibacterial chemicals which are produced by chamomile plants, treating fungal and bacterial infections. It’s cheaper as compared to commercial preparations. Camomile tea is probably sitting in your very own kitchen cupboard. You can also use powdered cinnamon sprinkled on the bonsai roots, and the soil surface before watering. This is traditionally used in Asian countries for a similar purpose.

Step #6: Position your bonsai tree in a brightly lit area but away from the direct hit of the sun for it to fully recover.

Step #7: Water your bonsai tree very sparingly while the bonsai potting mix starts to dry out.

Root Rot

Root rot is usually detected when repotting during spring. Rotted bonsai roots turn black and disintegrate when they are touched. A reliable way of stopping root rot is cutting away all of the root’s dead areas. Root-rot refers to a generic term usually used in bonsai trees describing their roots that are found dead and have rotted away.

Rotting of bonsai roots may come as pathogenic and non-pathogenic. These two forms are hard to differentiate. However, while pathogenic can mean the total loss of the bonsai tree, non-pathogenic is a natural process that may also indicate ill-health in the bonsai tree.

Pathogenic Root Rot

Pathogenic fungi, as well as bacteria, can kill live roots because they feed off, blocking their vascular tissues that carry moisture and sugars in between the roots, stems, branches, trunk, and foliage. Pathogenic root rot causes the foliage to wilt and eventually die back, most especially on the above-ground portions of the bonsai tree. The pathogens responsible include Pythium, Verticillium, or Phytophthora.

Root rot that is caused by pathogenic bacteria or fungi usually affects a relatively minor bonsai tree species. It is very limited to a range of conditions. These pathogens are dependent on climatic conditions, and these are usually during wet and cool weather in springtime.

Roots that are damaged and routine pruning of roots can provide open wounds. These would attract pathogens like fungi or bacteria, causing infection. The roots are then subjected to poor conditions like poor draining, airless, and compacted soils. The entry points for these pathogens may be provided by poor growing conditions, killing off fine root growth areas. The bonsai trees that are prone to infections are Cypress, Yew, Box, Apple, Beech, Acer, Lime, and Azalea.

Signs of Root Rot

The visible signs of root rot include a dull foliage, which is particularly with bonsai conifer species.

Smaller, sparser, or yellow foliage, stems, and branches that are dying back for no unknown reasons.

With some bonsai species, such as deciduous trees, the presence of bonsai pathogenic root rot is usually manifested by the of the discoloration of branches and trunk base. These areas usually have infected tissue that turns black, dieback and effectively girdles the branch or trunk, resulting in wilting leaves and the eventual death of other parts.

Dead and dying roots. The major roots are found to have a bark that covers a decaying and soft inner layer. The roots fall apart and turn ‘mushy’ and soft. There can be a foul smell on the roots as opposed to healthy roots’ “earthy smell”.

How to Treat Pathogenic Root Rot

There’s no known effective chemical treatment for root rot. Bonsai trees need to be lifted from their containers.

All affected bonsai roots, as well as woody growth, must be removed and back to becoming healthy wood. There should be enough live tissues left to regenerate for the bonsai tree to survive.

All infected bonsai soil should be binned or burnt along with any removed infected growth.

The bonsai tree’s container should be sterilized using a disinfectant prior to repotting prevent the occurrence of another infection.

You can use a free-draining open bonsai soil mix without organic matter. It will make the conditions very difficult for any remaining pathogen or fungal spores.


Indeed, these watering problems can be addressed and managed with early diagnosis and correct watering methods. You have just gained knowledge on the most common bonsai watering problems and is now prepared to face them as they arise.

Final Thoughts

Bonsai plants need water to also survive. Although the water requirements for different bonsai species vary, this tutorial has given you an in-depth understanding of the guidelines and best practices you need to keep and mind and follow when watering your bonsai trees. We hope that you enjoyed and learned a lot from this tutorial. We appreciate you sharing this information with your family and friends who are also bonsai lovers. Feel free to give your comment below for your insights, ideas, and sharing your experiences when taking care of bonsai trees! Happy growing!

How do I water my Indoor Bonsai Tree?

We are frequently asked advice on watering indoor bonsai trees, such as the Chinese Elm Bonsai (Ulmus parviflolia), Chinese Sweet Plum Bonsai (Sageretia theezans), Oriental Tea Tree Bonsai (Carmona microphylla), Fig Bonsai (Ficus retusa), Tree of a Thousand Stars (Serissa foetida) and Aromatic Pepper Tree Bonsai (Zanthoxylum piperitum).

Watering is the most important part of growing bonsai.

Check your bonsai morning and evening to see if it needs watering. If the soil looks dark and feels wet then it will not require watering. Only when the soil looks light brown and feels BARELY damp will your bonsai require more water.

When the soil is barely damp to the touch pour water evenly all over the soil surface until the water drains through into a tray or saucer.

It is important to never let your bonsai dry out and avoid keeping it constantly wet. The soil should go from wet to damp between watering. Remember the hotter the position the more water your bonsai will use.

If the soil surface becomes hard during hot weather simply submerge your bonsai in water, to cover the soil surface, for about ten minutes.

Please do NOT allow your bonsai to stand in water. A little water in the drip tray is beneficial to increase the humidity but if a bonsai stands in water it will cause root rot.

Symptoms of under-watering your bonsai.

If your bonsai does dry out the leaves will become crispy/papery and dry and begin to drop off. Total dehydration will kill any bonsai or houseplant. However, if only slightly dehydrated please stand in water for 10 minutes to re-wet the soil evenly. Then you need to be patient – it could take 4-6 weeks for your bonsai to re-bud. During this period do not be inclined to over-water. Your bonsai will have less foliage so just needs to be kept slightly damp. New green buds can be encouraged by misting the branches with water using a mister.

Symptoms of over-watering your bonsai.

Over-watering your bonsai for a long period of time can result in root rot; this results in the roots becoming compromised and inefficient at transporting water to the tips of the leaves.

An over-watered bonsai can look wilty (not dis-similar to one which needs watering) but this is usually preceded by indications of black tips to the leaves. Please ensure you ONLY water your bonsai when the soil is barely damp to the touch.

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