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How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree For Beginners

How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree For Beginners

Bonsai trees are a hobbyist’s delight. They may seem like they require very little care, but if you want to succeed with this plant, there are some things you should know before getting started.

This article will give you the basics on How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree For Beginners so that it can grow and thrive in its new home!

How to Take Care of A Bonsai Tree For Beginners

Factors to Consider When Taking Care of Your Bonsai Tree

Bonsai trees are a type of tree that has been kept small and compact by being grown in an artificial environment. This means they have to be far more closely cared for than other types of plants, but the results can really pay off if you know what you’re doing!

In order to care for your bonsai tree successfully, you need to be aware of the following:

  • The type of bonsai tree you have and what its specific needs are
  • How much sunlight it needs each day
  • How much water it needs each week
  • What kind of soil mix is best for your tree
  • When and how to fertilize your tree
  • Where to place it

Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way to successfully growing a bonsai tree!

The Type of Bonsai Tree

There are different types of bonsai trees with different characteristics and needs. Make sure you are aware of the specific needs of your type of tree before you begin to care for it.

The Types of Bonsai Trees:

Fruit trees: These trees grow fruit as part of their normal cycle. They can be trained to grow vertically, but their main focus is on the fruit they produce.

Deciduous: These are the types of bonsai trees that shed their leaves all at once in autumn and go completely dormant during the winter months. They tend to lose fewer branches than evergreens, but they do require more pruning overall.

Evergreen: These are the types of bonsai trees that keep their leaves all year round. They are generally harder to care for than deciduous trees, as they do not go dormant and therefore do not “rest” during winter months.

Forest trees: These are bonsai trees that have been styled to look like a miniature forest. They can be either deciduous or evergreen, and typically require more water than other types of bonsai trees.

Coniferous trees: These trees are often shaped to look like pinecones and have a waxy coating on their leaves.

Palm trees: These are the types of bonsai trees that have large leaves and thick trunk. They require more pruning than other varieties to keep them looking full and healthy.

How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree For Beginners


All bonsai trees need some direct sunlight each day to thrive. Find a spot where your tree will get at least four hours of sunlight per day, and make sure to rotate it occasionally so all sides can get some light.


How to water your bonsai tree also depends on where you keep it. Outdoor trees should be watered with a hose, while indoor ones can just use a watering can or cup. When re-watering your outdoor bonsai tree, be sure to water the soil and not the leaves or branches, as this can cause them to rot.

How much water your bonsai tree needs each week depends on the type of soil it is in and the climate you live in. In general, most trees need to be watered weekly, but you may need to water more or less frequently depending on your specific situation.

The amount of water you need to give your tree each week will also depend on the size of its pot. A bigger pot holds more soil, so it needs less frequent watering than a smaller one would require.

Care instructions for watering your bonsai tree:

  • The best time of day to water your tree is in the morning
  • Use room temperature filtered or purified water
  • Don’t leave a saucer under your pot when watering. This causes problems with root rot, which will kill your bonsai tree.
  • Water until the soil is wet but not soggy

Watering Indoor Bonsai Trees:

Watering your indoor bonsai tree is one of the most important things you can do for it. Watering too much or not enough can kill a tree. The best way to water your tree is to wait until the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, and then water thoroughly until water starts flowing out the bottom of the pot. Make sure to empty any excess water that gets trapped in your drip tray, and let it dry out before watering again.

Watering Outdoor Bonsai Trees:

When you are watering your outdoor bonsai tree, make sure to check how moist the soil is two inches below the surface every day for a week. If the soil is dry, then water your tree until water starts flowing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Stop watering when the top inch of soil feels wet to the touch.

To check the moisture of the soil:

  • use a metal probe or chopsticks to poke into the soil. If they come out wet, then your tree doesn’t need water yet. If they come out dry, then it’s time to water your tree.
  • Dig your finger into the soil until you reach the second knuckle.

If it feels dry, then that is a good indication that water should be added to the pot immediately. If it feels moist, wait one more day before watering again.


Bonsai trees should be planted in organic soil that is well-draining. You can make your soil mix or buy a pre-made one at a garden center.

The following are the characteristics of ideal bonsai soil:

  • Sphagnum moss: this helps retain water
  • Pine bark: to keep the soil well drained and aerated so roots can breathe
  • Perlite (white, coarse): helps with drainage and keeps the soil light
  • Perlite: adds air to the soil so it doesn’t become too compact
  • Eggshells: crushed up eggshells help add calcium to the soil, which is beneficial for your tree
  • Peat moss: adds organic matter to the soil and helps with drainage
  • Pebbles: decorative and help with drainage
  • Rock: decorative and keeps the soil from splashing out of your pot when you water it


Fertilizing your bonsai tree should be done about once a month, or according to manufacturer instructions. You can purchase fertilizer at any garden center.

When fertilizing your bonsai tree you want to use something that has less nitrogen than other kinds of plants because too much nitrogen will cause your bonsai tree to grow too quickly. The best types of fertilizer for this are:

  • Fox Farm Bonsai Stimulator
  • Miracle Gro LiquaFeed Tree, Shrub and Hedge Food (Osmocote)
  • Miracle Gro Shake N Feed (with granular fertilizer)
  • Espoma Holly Tone
  • Peter’s 20-20-20 All Purpose Plant Food

Tips on How to apply fertilizer to your bonsai tree:

  • Fertilize your tree when it is actively growing, which is usually in the spring and summer.
  • Mix the fertilizer with water according to manufacturer instructions
  • Apply the fertilizer evenly to the soil around your tree’s roots using a watering can or hose attachment
  • Don’t fertilize your bonsai tree during the winter months, as this will encourage new growth that may not be hardy enough to survive the cold


Where you place your bonsai tree is also important for its health. A tree that doesn’t get enough sunlight will become weak and leggy, while one that is overwatered will rot. Find a spot where your tree can get plenty of natural light, but also enough air to keep the soil from getting too damp.

Outdoor bonsai tree:

  • If you have an outdoor bonsai tree, make sure it is in a spot where it will be shielded from wind and direct sunlight. A tree that is constantly buffeted by wind won’t be able to hold onto its leaves very well, and those that are directly hit by the sun’s rays will burn.
  • If you are keeping your bonsai tree outdoors, make sure to find a spot that is protected from the wind. A sheltered porch or patio is ideal.

Indoor bonsai tree:

  • Protect your tree from wind and direct sunlight, which can damage its leaves
  • Place your tree in a spot where it will receive at least four hours of direct sunlight each day
  • Rotate the pot every few days to distribute light evenly
  • Place your tree near a window that gets good sunlight but is not too hot
  • If you live in a warm climate, keep your tree outside during the summer months and bring it inside if temperatures drop below 50 F (about 11 C) at night. If you don’t know what zone you live in, check out this map:  United States Hardiness Zones Map.

When you are picking out bonsai trees, be sure to consider how much space they need. A healthy tree should have plenty of room for its roots and branches.

Other Care Tips to Your Bonsai Tree


Pruning is an important part of taking care of your bonsai tree. You should prune your tree at least once a year, but it is best to do it during the winter months when it is not actively growing. Pruning will help keep your tree healthy and looking its best.

How to Prune a Bonsai Tree:

  • Remove any dead or damaged branches using pruning shears
  • Cut off any branches that are growing in the wrong direction
  • Prune back the top of your tree to maintain its shape
  • Thin out the inner growth of your tree so there is more space between branches
  • Remove small twigs and leaves that are growing in the wrong direction
  • Do not prune your tree when it is actively growing


When you buy a new bonsai tree, transplant it in early spring. Be sure to water and fertilize the plant frequently until its roots have established themselves. Transplant again during the winter months if needed.


If you want to change the pot your tree is in, you should re-pot it during the winter months. Be sure to use a pot that is only one size larger than the current pot and add fresh soil to the root ball. Water and fertilize frequently until the roots have re-established themselves.

Choose the Right Pot Size:

  • Use small pots if your tree is young or has short roots
  • Plant shallowly, leaving about half of each root exposed to air. This will prevent rotting later on when you water your tree
  • Use a deeper pot for larger or older trees. Be sure to use a pot that is only one size larger than the current pot to avoid stressing the roots
  • Glaze your pots to protect them from water damage, especially if they are outside in the winter months. Unglazed pots will absorb the cold which can crack or break them

Steps to repot your bonsai tree:

You need: pruning shears, wire cutters, a screwdriver or drill, and bonsai soil


  1. Take your pot outside and remove the plant from it. If the pot is too large to move, you can do this step indoors
  2. Remove any old soil from the root ball using a fork or spoon. Be gentle so you don’t damage the roots
  3. Use your wire cutters to trim any old or crossing roots and remove dead leaves
  4. Repot the tree in a pot that has drainage holes. Fill around it with fresh bonsai soil and gently pat it down so there are no air pockets
  5. Wire the root ball using pliers for extra support if necessary
  6. Water your tree and place it in a sunny spot
  7. Fertilize the plant every other week for healthy growth

Re-pot your tree every three years or when it has filled its pot with roots. Be sure to remove all the soil and trim away any dead roots before you repot.

How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree For Beginners


Take good care of your bonsai tree and it will provide you with years of growth. If the instructions seem overwhelming, there are many resources online that can help you learn more about how to take care of a bonsai tree for beginners. However, if you have a green thumb, then just follow these instructions to learn how to take care of your bonsai tree.

Therefore, it is important to water and fertilizes your tree often, especially when it is first planted. Also, be sure to prune the tree regularly to keep it looking its best. Finally, transplant or repot your tree every few years for optimum growth.