Bonsai Care: Caring for Your Bonsai in Spring


Bonsai trees have fresh, gem-like foliage and stand as a testament to simple, asymmetrical beauty. Whether you intend to make these miniature trees the focal point of your garden or indoor living space, bonsai plants can imbue an environment with timeless aesthetic value.

For that reason, it’s essential for any gardener who loves bonsai trees to provide correct bonsai care.

Today’s guide will reveal how you can provide bonsai care, whether you prefer indoor or outdoor bonsai plants. We’ll also uncover how you can prepare your bonsai plants for springtime, as well as the best types of bonsai trees for your home or garden.

Bonsai Tree Care: How to Care For an Outdoor Bonsai Tree

Although certain types of bonsai trees can thrive both indoors and outdoors (like Chinese Elms), how you care for your bonsai plant varies, depending on its environment.

To start, we’ll explore how to care for an outdoor bonsai tree.

1. Light Requirements

An outdoor bonsai tree requires bright, indirect sunlight to grow effectively. It’s vital that your bonsai is exposed to indirect light, primarily because they are sensitive to direct sunlight.

If you notice that the leaves of your bonsai plant have turned brown, it’s possible that too much exposure to direct sunlight has scorched them. To avoid this, we recommend allowing your bonsai tree to receive approximately 4-6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight on a daily basis.

It’s also worth noting that even the direction of sunlight can have an impact on your bonsai tree’s development. Generally speaking, bonsai trees prefer a north-facing or east-facing location where they will receive morning or evening sunlight.

Another factor to consider is seasonal changes. During wintertime, when the sun is lower in the sky, your bonsai trees may require an alternative outdoor light source, like artificial light, to compensate for the limited sunlight. In contrast, during summer, when sunlight is often stronger, it would be wise to provide your bonsai trees with partial shade. This will reduce the risk of leaf scorching. 

2. Water Requirements

The general rule of thumb when it comes to watering bonsai trees is to never stick to a routine.

Instead, monitor each of your bonsai trees individually and water them only when required. There is no exact method that works for all bonsai trees; you may find that you water your plants once over three days or, once a week or once a fortnight.

If you’re new to bonsai gardening, we suggest gently probing the soil with your finger at a depth of about 1cm to check the moisture. If the soil is slightly dry, it’s time to water your bonsai tree.

We also recommend watering more frequently during windy or warmer weather to compensate for hotter temperatures and any water lost through wind-blown leaves. Although using an open, free-draining soil mixture will benefit your bonsai trees, you may notice that you have to water them more often.

When watering your bonsai plant, ensure you soak the entire root system. Keep watering until the water runs out of the bottom drainage holes. We advise pouring water from above your bonsai plant using a watering can with a fine nozzle attachment will prevent the soil from being washed away.

3. Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Outdoor bonsai trees can usually tolerate a wide range of temperatures, providing that you’re caring for them correctly. However, since most bonsai tree species originate from tropical or subtropical regions, as a precaution, protect your bonsai plants from strong frost in the winter. I’d advise bringing your bonsai plants inside to protect them from a cold snap. 

Be mindful of the temperature in early spring, too; try to keep your trees safe from the occasional potentially damaging effects of a night frost.

Monitoring humidity levels is another essential step to keeping your bonsai plants fresh and healthy, especially during the hottest days of summer.

If you position your bonsai tree near walls or paved surfaces, your plant may suffer the consequences of low humidity levels. Particularly the leaves that can shrivel up, dry completely, or shed. To prevent this from happening, place your bonsai plant in a shallow tray of water to increase the humidity levels of the surrounding environment. Alternatively, you can also lightly mist your tree during the day.

4. Fertilizer Requirements

If you’re familiar with fertilizers, you know that every fertilizer consists of three basic components:

  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen promotes the growth of leaves and stems.
  • Phosphorous: Phosphorous encourages healthy root growth.
  • Potassium: Potassium enhances the overall health of the plant.

We recommend using a fertilizer with an equal NPK ratio.

Ideally,  fertilize outdoor bonsai plants from spring through to fall at least once a week. Ensure you follow the instructions on the packaging and be careful not to get fertilizer on the bonsai’s foliage, as this could cause a chemical burn.

Bonsai Tree Care: How to Care For an Indoor Bonsai Tree

The care requirements for  indoor bonsai plants differ slightly.

1. Light Requirements

As we have now established, bonsai trees require bright, indirect sunlight. The problem growing indoors is that the light is less intense than outdoors.  In order to keep your indoor bonsai plants healthy, it is essential to place them somewhere bright. Ideally, place your bonsai trees in a open spot that is not overcast with shadow. A north-facing or east-facing window, whereby they will receive morning and afternoon sun, is ideal.

If you find your bonsai plant is not receiving enough light, especially during winter months, consider using light-emitting diode (LED) lighting for approximately 10 hours a day.

2. Water Requirements

Similar to outdoor bonsai trees, don’t stick to a routine when watering your indoor bonsai plants. Monitor the state of your bonsai tree’s leaves and soil, and only water when needed.

As  indoor bonsai trees are usually kept in small pots,  they require frequent watering. In addition, it may be necessary to water your indoor bonsai trees more regularly in warmer weather. Again, regular monitoring is critical to successful watering.

3. Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Tropical bonsai trees will thrive at the standard room temperature of your living room. Whereas, subtropical bonsai trees can withstand somewhat lower temperatures and endure temperatures well below a standard room temperature, even in winter.

Tip: A cooler room is better than a warmer one, so avoid placing your bonsai plants near heat sources like radiators and televisions.

As for humidity requirements, bonsai plants like it humid, and usually, an indoor living space can’t accommodate such needs. As with outdoor bonsai trees,  place your plants in trays of water or mist them throughout the day to help increase humidity.

Unlike outdoor bonsai trees, however, you can also increase the humidity around your bonsai by opening nearby windows. Alternatively, you can place your bonsai trees in your kitchen or bathroom, where they can absorb the moisture from taps and showers.

4. Fertilizer Requirements

The fertilizer requirements of indoor bonsai trees are similar to outdoor bonsai trees. We still recommend using a liquid fertilizer with an equal NPK ratio.

For flowering varieties of  bonsai trees , as they mature, fertilize with higher concentrations of phosphorus and lower concentrations of nitrogen. This will provide the key nutrient to support your tree’s flowering growth.

Regardless of which fertilizer you use, the most important thing is following the application guidelines stated on the product’s packaging.

How to Care for a Bonsai Tree: Preparing Your Bonsai For Spring

Now that you know how to care for a bonsai tree, it’s time to move on to the next step: preparing your bonsai for spring.

Spring marks a new growing season for bonsai plants. This means that it’s the perfect time to prepare your bonsai trees to enable them to flourish all year round.

Here’s how to keep your bonsai trees strong and healthy throughout the year!

1. Pruning and Shaping Your Bonsai Plants

Remove any dead or dried-out branches of your bonsai that may have dried out over winter. Carefully trim and remove any dead branches so your bonsai plant can concentrate more energy to feeding new, budding branches.

You can also prune branches and shoots that have outgrown their intended shape. 

2. Weeding Your Bonsai Plants

For outdoor bonsai trees, weeds can prove a persistent pest. If you notice weeds growing around the roots of your bonsai trees, remove them as soon as possible. As more plants begin to grow in the spring, you may notice that more and more weeds keep appearing.

One unremoved weed is all it takes for your bonsai tree’s root system to compete for vital nutrients and space. In this case, it wouldn’t take long for your bonsai to show signs of stress, which could cause it to die off. 

3. Repotting Your Bonsai Plants

Spring is a good time to check if you need to repot your bonsai tree.

An obvious sign you need to repot your bonsai plant is if its roots encircle the inside of its pot. Also, pale yellow leaves can indicate that your bonsai is under stress and needs repotting.

The Best Varieties of Bonsai Trees For Your Living Space

If you’re thinking of adding a new bonsai to your home and not sure which type of bonsai tree you want for your living space, consider one of the following:

  1. Chinese Elms.
  2. Juniper Bonsai.
  3. Ficus Bonsai.
  4. The Dwarf Umbrella/Hawaiian Umbrella Bonsai.
  5. Japanese Maples.
  6. Pomegranate Bonsai.
  7. Ginseng Ficus Bonsai.
  8. Dwarf Jade.
  9. Boxwood Bonsai.
  10. Flowering Crabapple Bonsai.

Bonsai Care: Final Thoughts

Bonsai trees have always been a testament to harmony, peace, and order, making them the perfect addition to any home. With visually intriguing silhouettes and luscious foliage, whichever species of bonsai tree you choose will imbue your living space with timeless, tranquil beauty.

Best of all, by following the advice in today’s guide, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to enjoy your beautiful bonsai trees all year round, regardless of which type you opt to grow/buy. With our advice at your disposal, your bonsai care routine will always be incredibly simple, straightforward, and rewarding.

For more tips related to plant care and gardening, don’t hesitate to check out our blog!

Frequently Asked Questions

Our most frequently asked questions relating to bonsai care.

1. Is tap water suitable for bonsai trees?

Generally, we recommend using rainwater when you water your bonsai plants because it doesn’t contain any added chemicals. However, when rainwater isn’t available, it’s completely acceptable to use tap water as a substitute. 

2. Why is my bonsai tree crispy?

The leaves of your bonsai tree may have a crispy texture because they have dried out. This can even be true if they still have a healthy green color. Alternatively, the leaves of your bonsai tree can appear crispy because it’s exposed to too much intense heat. In this case,  water can’t be transferred from its roots to its leaves quickly enough, drying it out. 

3. Can you revive a dry bonsai tree?

If the bonsai tree’s roots aren’t completely dry, you can revive your tree by simply watering it sufficiently and adhering to an appropriate bonsai care routine. If your  bonsai tree’s roots have entirely dried up, you probably won’t be able to revive your tree.

4. Why is my bonsai tree trunk squishy?

A squishy trunk on a bonsai tree isn’t ideal, but it might be possible to save. A squishy trunk means that the tissue under the bark has died, which is usually caused by chronic overwatering. Consequently, the bonsai tree suffers from root rot. To remedy this, you need to repot your tree quickly, conserve as many living roots as possible, and put the tree in good, well-draining soil. Make sure to monitor the moisture levels in the new soil closely.

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