Bonsai Care: Watering Your Bonsai
Watering bonsai trees is of highest importance to their healthy growth. Bonsai tree watering can intimidate many beginners, but once you learn the ground rules you’ll find it’s really simple. The most essential part is checking on your tree regularly and paying attention to any warning signs that your tree is getting too much or too little water.
You may be wondering how often to water bonsai trees or how to properly water your bonsai. In this article we’ll cover all the basics of watering bonsai, from how often to warning signs that you might be watering your tree wrong.
How often should you water a bonsai tree?
Due to their often shallow bonsai pots and smaller amount of soil, bonsai trees dry out quicker than their wild counterparts. This is also why it’s possible to overwater your bonsai if you’re not paying much attention. If the roots of your bonsai are constantly submerged in water they can rot causing your tree to eventually die. Underwatering, however, can kill your tree quicker than overwatering, so it’s all about finding the balance of giving your tree enough but not too much water.
Contrary to what you may believe, it’s not recommended to have a watering schedule for your bonsai, because during different seasons your tree might be needing more or less water. What you should do instead is check how moist the soil of your tree is. To do that as a beginner, simply use your fingers at about one centimetre deep to feel if the soil is wet. If the soil is still wet you shouldn’t water your tree yet, however, if it feels slightly dry you can go ahead with watering your bonsai.
How much water does your bonsai tree need?
There is no precise answer as every tree has different needs. Just like mature trees in the wild bonsai pump water through their root system into the trunk and leaves of the tree. This means they need enough water to supply all the leaves and branches and stop them from drying out. This amount can vary depending on how big the tree is and what type of bonsai it is. It is also affected by environmental factors such as temperature. When it’s hot in summer water evaporates much quicker from the soil which means your bonsai tree might need more water. Whereas in winter the soil retains more moisture so your tree doesn’t need as much water.
Signs you might be underwatering your bonsai
If you notice the leaves of your bonsai starting to look crispy or dry and slowly beginning to fall off then it might mean your tree is not getting enough water. Total dehydration will kill any bonsai tree, however, before it comes to that you can try saving your bonsai by letting it stand in water for at least a few minutes. Afterwards you have to be patient. Your tree could take up to 4-6 weeks to fully recover and re-bud. During its recovery period it’s important to not water your bonsai tree too frequently. Your tree may have lost leaves so it’ll have less foliage which means that the soil has to be only slightly damp. You can also encourage new growth by misting the branches with a water mister.
Signs you might be overwatering your bonsai
As we’ve already mentioned overwatering your bonsai over a longer period of time can cause its roots to rot. As a result of this the root system can’t efficiently transport water to the leaves and other parts of the tree. A bonsai that has been overwatered can look similar to one that needs watering, but the telling factor here usually is indications of black tips to the leaves.
Always remember to test the dampness of the soil before watering your bonsai as well as making sure that it’s pot has proper drainage and your tree isn’t sitting in water.
How to water your bonsai?
When you water your bonsai make sure you give it plenty of water. Much of the roots are at the bottom of the pot so you need to ensure that all the soil gets wet. If you pour just a bit of water the top of the soil can get wet, but the rest of the soil can remain dry. This can happen particularly to outdoor bonsai in summer when the sun dries out the soil.
Outdoors you can simply use a watering can or a hose for watering bonsai trees. You just have to be mindful not to wash the soil out of the pot with a heavier stream. Indoors you can try filling a bowl with water and submerging your bonsai in it to avoid making a mess.
You can also give the foliage and branches a wash as it gets off dust and help wash away any pests that might be hiding in your bonsai’s leaves.
To summarise, it’s important to remember to check how moist the soil is before watering your bonsai to avoid overwatering and also give it enough water to reach the roots at the bottom of the pot. If you have any questions or concerns about your bonsai you can always contact us! You can also read more tips on how to grow a healthy bonsai on our Care Hub!