Bonsai Tree Leaves Turning Yellow – Gardener’s Advice

Bonsai are just normal trees that are trimmed to remain physically small and maintain a certain shape. These trees possess similar characteristics.

Bonsai trees require care and attention as other trees do, and when discussing leaves turning yellow, bonsai trees are not an exception.

Bonsai are also susceptible to pests, changes in weather conditions, and perhaps even nutrition.

Bonsai leaves turning yellow is always a major blow to several bonsai care enthusiasts. Many always stumble on this problem.

This condition also always makes beginners growing bonsai have sleepless nights because of the care and maintenance they need to give the bonsai tree.

Many beginners are often disheartened and conclude that their bonsai is dying and offer little attention and care.

You need to know that the yellowing of leaves may signify several things. One of the main reasons behind leaves yellowing may be natural and harmless. Plants always have yellow leaves, and that’s their nature. Bonsai is no exception being that they are small.

This article will give you all the reasons for your bonsai leaves turning yellow and possible solutions to make them healthier and prevent them from dying.

You only need to dedicate some time to read this short article to become a better gardener and bonsai expert in no time.

All Possible Reasons For The Yellow Leaves In Your Bonsai

As stated earlier, there are several reasons for the yellowing of your bonsai leaves. These reasons may be positive or negative.

Here are some of the possible reasons for the yellowing of bonsai leaves:

  • Stress
  • Underwatering
  • The time of the year
  • Hard trimming
  • Hardwiring
  • The environment
  • Lack of minerals
  • Lack of light
  • Exposer to cold
  • Over-watering


Just like other plants, some conditions could also be stressful for bonsai plants. There are several reasons for stress in all plants.

Some possible reasons that may trigger stress include a drastic change in weather patterns or transplanting a plant to a new habitat.

Again, mishandling the plant during potting, wiring, pruning, and drastic temperature changes may also trigger stress.

It’s also important to use a pot that is big enough for the bonsai tree’s root system while repotting. 

You can identify that your bonsai is stressed through the yellowing of its leaves.


Underwatering is the most likely reason for the yellowing of your bonsai tree. It’s advised to regularly water your potted bonsai.

Many people always skip watering their potted bonsai. This will always result in your bonsai leaves turning yellow.

You may also observe some symptoms of under-watering, such as wilting, drying, and maybe crumpling of your bonsai leaves.

Generally, water is one of the essentials for growing plants. Plants have several natural processes that are water-driven. Some of these processes will stop with just a drop in water level.

When these processes stop, plants will no longer be generating food, thus affecting everything in the plant.

The Time Of The Year

It’s a normal occurrence for the plants to drop their yellow leaves at a given time of the year.

When winter knocks, the plants should drop their yellow leaves and enter a dormant period.

These leaves will always turn yellow before being able to drop. This is the nature of plants and doesn’t signify any problem.

You will notice this when the temperature drops to about 15 degrees Celsius. If your bonsai is outdoors, you should bring it into the house for about six weeks.

Hard Trimming

Excessive trimming of your bonsai tree will always make its leaves turn yellow. You will be stressing your bonsai tree, which will turn its leaves yellow.

You should not trim your bonsai if you realize that it’s unhealthy. It would be best if you only trimmed healthy bonsai trees. That doesn’t mean that you should excessively cut it.

If you just transplanted your bonsai or repotted it, you should not trim it.

Give your bonsai some time to adapt to the new environment.

Position it where it gets enough sunlight and keep watering it before trimming it.

You should also wash your scissors after trimming every plant before proceeding to the next. This will help you control the spread of pests and diseases from one bonsai to another.


When you find it essential to wire your bonsai, it should be done while the plant is left to grow and removed at the same time of growth.

Failing to remove the wire will result in breaking the bonsai bark and making the bonsai have several harmful infections.

You need to continuously water your bonsai after wiring and avoid any form of trimming it to avoid stressing it for some time.

Failing to do so will make your bonsai stressed; thus, the leaves turn brown.

The Environment

You must ensure that you grow your bonsai tree in the most suitable environment. You cannot grow an outdoor bonsai tree indoors without the necessary facilities.

It’s possible to grow any bonsai species indoors or outdoors. You only need to ensure that you provide the exact conditions required.

You will be forced to monitor the environment’s temperature, humidity, and perhaps light, which may sometimes be slightly expensive to care for.

Bonsai grown indoors will always be susceptible to leaves turning yellow compared to their peers grown in an outdoor environment.

If the leaves are turning yellow, you may try taking your indoor bonsai outside. If it’s not because of pests and diseases, the leaves may become healthy again.

Lack Of Minerals

The lack of minerals such as iron, phosphorus, and potassium can affect the bonsai’s root development, flowering, and growth rates. Several trees will react with just a slight change of minerals in the soil. The tree’s health is more likely to change if the mineral drops by a bigger margin. 

Nitrogen is also responsible for the enhancement of the green color in bonsai plants. Therefore, the leaves turning yellow could be a sign that your bonsai plants aren’t receiving the sufficient amount of minerals they need to grow and flourish. 

Leaves turning yellow are just one of the many symptoms that are likely to be exhibited by your bonsai tree.

You can regulate the mineral levels.

This can be achieved by introducing compatible fertilizers to your bonsai tree.

Lack Of Light

Several bonsai trees always lack sunlight. Many indoor bonsai trees are placed in positions that don’t receive sunlight.

Many of the bonsai trees require a high level of sunlight. You will not provide your bonsai with enough light by just putting it near a window.

Light is one of the primary reasons why your bonsai leaves are turning yellow. You can use artificial lights if you can’t provide natural light for your bonsai tree.

Another early sign that your bonsai tree isn’t receiving enough light would be that the new leaves growing are larger in size but less in quantity. They may also grow in only one specific direction in search of a source of light. 

Exposer To Cold

You will find many of the bonsai to be very sensitive. With just a minor change in temperature, their growth and development may be altered.

If your bonsai is exposed to cold, then be sure its leaves will soon turn yellow. This is very common among bonsai growers.

Constantly moving your bonsai tree from an air-conditioned room to a warmer outdoor environment may be a reason for the yellow leaves.


If you continuously water your bonsai tree, you will realize that there are dead or yellow leaves in the upper part of the new growth.

Yellow or dead leaves at the bottom signify that your bonsai is healthy, while yellow or dead leaves in the upper part of the growth indicate bad news.

It’s also essential to use a pot with draining holes to ensure that the roots aren’t sitting in the excess water, as it may cause them to rot and attract parasites.

You will notice that you are over-watering your bonsai tree if the leaves begin to look yellow and transparent.

Lush bonsai tree with variegated green leaves, some yellowing, against a white background, showing signs of distress.

How To Avoid And Help Your Bonsai Tree Recover From Yellowing Leaves

There are several solutions for yellowing bonsai leaves. You should not think that your bonsai is dying and watch life escape from it.

You need to give your bonsai a lot of attention and care. Bonsai are not fragile, and they will soon survive and shine again.

Here are some of the ways to avoid or help your bonsai recover from yellowing leaves:

  • Provide enough light for your bonsai tree
  • Equalize nutrient imbalances
  • Opt for a balanced fertilizer
  • Water your bonsai adequately

Provide Enough Light For Your Bonsai Tree

If you notice that your bonsai lacks enough sunlight, you need to check on how to fulfill that.

You can either leave your bonsai to grow in an outdoor environment or choose to grow lights if you have to leave the bonsai indoors.

You should also limit the bonsai movement while searching for light. Constantly moving your bonsai outdoors for sunlight only worsens the situation.

Equalize Nutrient Imbalances

You can stabilize the nutrient quantity by adding more nutrients or reducing the nutrients. Calcium and potassium will be ideal for reducing a given nutrient.

You will accomplish this by conducting a soil test. This will help you know which nutrient is leading to the imbalance.

Opt for a Balanced Fertilizer

All kinds of trees will always require a balanced fertilizer to be introduced regularly. This practice will help attain nutrient balance, thus terminating yellowing leaves.

Water Your Bonsai Adequately

Each bonsai species has its unique water requirements. Your bonsai will always need water regularly for them to be healthy.

Over-watering may result in your bonsai leaves turning yellow. Underwatering will also make your bonsai leaves yellow too.

So, how will you regulate watering your bonsai tree? You should conduct in-depth research on the water consumption of each bonsai you plant.

This will help you understand how to deliver the right amount of water.


Bonsai leaves turning yellow could be caused by several factors. You must single out every possible reason until you identify the exact cause and fix it using the tips mentioned above.

Bonsai trees are not as fragile as you may think. They can recover if you take good care of them and continue to maintain them even after you solve the yellow leaves issue.


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