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Top Tips from Bonsai Expert Lloyd Noall – Autumn

A few tips from Lloyd Noall about Autumn Bonsai care:

  • In Autumn, Bonsai growth will slow, so please take extra care with the watering. Please keep the soil just damp as your bonsai will require less water during cooler days. Do not be caught out -the sun could still pop out!
  • Continue to feed all indoor bonsai weekly with Bonsai Direct Fertiliser. Deciduous outdoor bonsai should be fed until the end of October or when the leaves drop. Evergreen outdoor bonsai, such as pines & junipers, can be fed once a month.
  • Please place outdoor bonsai in a more sheltered position in the garden or an unheated greenhouse. Ensure they are checked for water on warmer days.
  • Ensure indoor bonsai are in a bright position as the daylength is now reducing.
  • Protect your indoor bonsai from cold draughts. They prefer an even temperature.
  • Mist indoor bonsai twice a week with Bonsai Mist. This will help counteract dry air caused by central heating and give your bonsai a conditioning to enhance leaf growth.
  • Finally, enjoy any seasonal changes ….

All the best LloydTop tips from Bonsai Master Lloyd Noall - Growing bonsia in autumn

English Oak Bonsai Tree (Quercus robur)

Although I love all trees, the English Oak (Quercus robur) holds a special place in my heart. So much so, that we chose to call our only son ‘Oak’ – our two older children are girls. I should have expected that our son Oak would tower above the rest of the family at the age of 12 years.
It was a natural progression for me to specialise in Oak bonsai trees.

Our English Oak bonsaiEnglish Oak (Quercus robot) Bonsai Tree  are fantastic representations of these majestic native trees. They form powerful trunks and main branches and make incredible bonsai. On most of our oak bonsai the leaf size is down to about 5cm (2″) and on some of the older ones they are about 2.5cm (1″) They are easy to care for and extremely hardy.

The leaves of the Oak trees are fresh and lush at the moment and form a fantastic canopy. Oak bonsai are outdoor bonsai trees. They are deciduous trees and require the dormant winter to rest. This year we have noticed that many of our Oak Bonsai Trees have come into leaf late; the Oak is always one of the latest trees to leaf but I think following a harsh winter they have leafed up even later.

Oak tree meaning or symbolism:
With age the Oak displays a very powerful strong trunk, incredible exposed root flare with spreading design which is mirrored in the canopy. The bark is aged and craggy as one would expect to find in a very old woodland tree. The oak is an emblem of power, strength, ancient wisdom and survival and many nations, including England, have chosen the Oak as their national tree. In addition to representing qualities related to power and durability, the oak tree is considered a bearer of good luck, fertility, potency, healing and health.

A few tips are listed below about growing and caring for Oak Bonsai Trees.

  • The biggest enemy of outdoor bonsai is wind. Strong winds will quickly dehydrate any delicate buds and leaves so a sheltered position is preferable.
  • Although most bonsai will tolerate most weather conditions the ideal situation is a sheltered semi-shaded position. This helps prevent your bonsai from drying out too quickly.
  • 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 damp will your bonsai require more water. Water thoroughly all over the soil until the water drains through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. 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.
  • Oaks are deciduous bonsai should be pruned to shape rather than wired, as the wiring will damage the delicate bark. New shoots which have grown to about 2-3cm should be pruned using a sharp pair of bonsai scissors. Carefully prune back to the first pair of new leaves.
  • To keep your bonsai strong and healthy we recommend the use of a good bonsai fertiliser.

all the best

Bonsai shaping inspiration

Pruning and wiring your bonsai will determine its shape. There are many ways that your bonsai can then grow.
Here are some examples of shapes that you can produce.

Informal Upright (Moyogi)

This is the shape that you’ll most commonly encounter, and the way that most commercial growers will shape their bonsai.
This tends to look the most aesthetically pleasing in the widest variety of settings.

Slanting (Shakkan)

Characterised, as is clear by the name, by the typically quite straight but leaning trunk.

The trunk should be carefully considered, to have the nebari pointing in the opposite direction to the lean.

Windswept (Fukinagashi)

Again, as is clear by the name, the fukinagashi style appears as though it has been grown in a strong prevailing wind.

Typically the branches will also be pointing in same direction.

Literati or Bunjin (Bunjingi)

Taken from the literati of imperial china, these bonsai tend to be stripped of their branches at the lower level with a crown of branches at the top.

This can be achieved with very hard pruning.

Twin Trunk (Sokan)

Typically this shape is achieved by allowing one of the young branches to grow much thicker than would otherwise be allowed.

The same effect could be achieve with growing two trees very close to one another, whose trunk then merge as they grow.

Formal Upright (Chokkan)

This is the most formal style of bonsai, and grown in similar fashion/shape as that of a chrismas tree; with a thick trunk at the base which gradually tapers. The branch structure follows a similar pattern.

My First bonsai tree by Emily Hunt


The story of my bonsai tree so far…

Hi, my name is Emily, and I was given my first bonsai from a friend as a present for my birthday. I loved it and decided I wanted to keep it on my bedroom window sill, where I could see it every morning and also remember to look after it.

I made sure I watered it every few days and pruned it when it was overgrown. However, due to the lack of light in my room, I decided to move my bonsai to a sunnier spot; the kitchen window. My Bonsai seemed happier here, where there was more sunlight and since I, like my bonsai, enjoy the sun, I went on holiday shortly after repositioning my bonsai.


Whilst I was away, I was not able to look after my bonsai, and since I didn’t arrange for anyone to help care for it whilst I was away, my bonsai wasn’t so happy when I came back home. The leaves were brown, the soil was dry, and I was concerned that my tree may be dead. I did not want to give up on my bonsai so soon, so I decided to begin watering and pruning my tree as I had done before, and my tree grew new buds and tiny green leaves again.

However, later in the year, when the weather was colder, I made the mistake of, again neglecting my bonsai and so my tree struggled to grow and lost its leaves. Although my tree, managed to grow new leaves, it does not look as healthy and beautiful as it did when it was given to me. I should have been more tentative and less neglecting of my tree and made sure it had the water, and conditions it needed

Thankfully, this was not the end of the road for my bonsai. After taking the time to re-pot, prune, water my bonsai, the tree looked as beautiful as it had done before. My bonsai will now be healthy and happy again in its sunny spot in my kitchen window, getting the care and attention it needs.

New photos and lastest information about Emily’s little bonsai coming next week…

Enquiry about a large Chinese Elm Bonsai from Jonathan

Ulmus parvifolia with die backHey guys,

Wondering if you could help me, please.
I have no experience of Bonsai but found this plant (pictures below) at the bottom of a friends garden where it had been for years with no attention.  After a good prune and a bit of TLC, it turned in to a beautiful tree full of green leaves and lovely features.  My Bonsai leaves went yellow, then Brown just before Christmas so i took the plant outside and shook them all off.  I thought it was just seasonal as it did this as it was getting colder and I just kept watering it assuming it would come back in spring.  I took away all of the dead branches and leaves off (may have been a bad idea, but again inexperience kicked in)  After doing some reading, I can see it may have been inexperience in watering which made the leaves drop off but they have eventually started growing back, but only in one part.

Should the rest of the tree recover, or am I destined to own a Bonsai with only one area of leaves?  There do not appear to be any other bud sites on the tree.

I’ve started spraying it on a regular basis and I’m watering every day in small amounts (feeding once a week), but get the feeling I’m doing something wrong.  It was a beautiful tree and I’d love to get it back to its former glory.  I’ve never tried to repot, trim roots etc and have left it as it was when I found it outside.  It now lives on a South facing window with no radiator within 4 metres.

Any other comments or thoughts from pictures would be hugely appreciated.  I’m an absolute novice, so don’t even know what type of tree it is, but think it may be an Elm of some sort. Thanks in advance

Chinese Elm bonsai from Johnathan

Question from Simon about leaf drop on a Chinese Elm bonsai

We have just received a message from Simon about his large Chinese Elm indoor bonsai.
It was delivered a few days ago and some of the old leaves are dropping.
We just wanted to give you all reassurance that this is nothing to be concerned about.
It is perfectly normal for a Chinese Elm to drop the old leaves during the first 3 weeks of delivery. It just re-acclimatises to its new position and is nothing to be concerned about.
Another reason it may drop more leaves in September or October is that the days are getting shorter so it feels a bit autumnal.
It will stabilize and in 4-5 weeks lots of new buds will emerge and then it will get going again.
The Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) does this far more dramatically than other varieties (some bonsai, such as the ficus, barely drop at all). However, it buds back quickly and makes a beautiful bonsai. Please do not let this put you off growing a Chinese Elm, in our opinion the character and beautiful proportions (combined with the ease of care) make it one of the best indoor bonsai varieties.

Enquiry about over-watering or under-watering a bonsai tree and trying to determine what the problem is

We have received an email from James about his bonsai. It is obviously suffering from a watering issue and I have been trying to help him determine the cause of the problem. I thought the following information may be of interest to other readers.

It is not always easy to determine if the bonsai is suffering from over or under watering.
In principle over-watering is a slow deterioration where the bonsai is over-watered for many weeks, the roots begin to rot and then become inefficient at taking up water , you then see symptoms which look similar to the bonsai drying out. (ie. Dry and crispy leaves).
Minor over-watering is often characterised but soft black tips of the leaves.
Another indication of over-watering is the trunk of the bonsai can becoming loose in the pot and it may wobble.

The symptoms of lack of water (under-watering) are rapid, the leaves wilt and go dry and crispy and drop off.
The subsequent bonsai care is different.
If you think your bonsai has been under-watered and allowed to become too dry please stand the bonsai in water so that the water covers the entire pot. Leave for 5 , 10minutes and then allow to drain.
This will evenly re-wet the soil. You can then check daily and keep the soil damp (not too wet). A bonsai without leaves requires less water.

If a bonsai has been over-watered it will take many weeks to see any improvement. The roots must re-grow before you see any signs of new shoots. It is important to keep the soil just damp and not wet. Please do not feed a bonsai until it shows signs of recovering.

I hope these tips help.
Sarah – Bonsai Direct

How do I feed my Bonsai Tree – Instructions on using Bonsai Fertiliser

Feeding indoor bonsai trees

All bonsai trees and pot plants are dependent upon us for nutrients and water. Feeding your bonsai will keep it strong and vigorous and help prevent attack from pest and disease. Please feed with a recognised bonsai fertiliser such as Bonsai Direct Liquid Bonsai Fertiliser , other general plant foods can be too strong for the bonsai and may scorch the roots. If using a liquid bonsai feed I would recommend feeding indoor bonsai once a week during the spring, summer and autumn. Reduce the feeding to approximately once a month in mid-winter when it is barely growing. It is particularly important to feed flowering bonsai. Bonsai, like the Serissa for example, are very hungry trees and rely on you for their nutrients. You will notice yellowing of the leaves if the bonsai is deficient in nutrients.

Buy bonsai fertiliser

New Bonsai Care and Advice Section

Bonsai Tree Care & Advice

Do you need help and advice on looking after your bonsai tree?
We are in the process of building a whole section on our website which is dedicated to giving you the very best help, advice and inspiration about all aspects of growing bonsai.


All topics of bBonsai Care and advice pageonsai care including watering bonsai, feeding bonsai and pruning bonsai are covered.

We also discuss the attributes of different varieties if indoor bonsai trees.
We hope this will help you choose the perfect bonsai!

Indoor Bonsai Trees

Bonsai Care – How to treat Aphid (Blackfly and Greenfly)

Aphids are a very common insect which can suck the sap on both indoor and outdoor bonsai trees, and most other plants. Both greenfly and blackfly are common examples of aphid.
We have had more e-mails this spring about aphid than ever before. I’m not sure if this is because it has been warmer and they are just more prevalent!

Symptoms of Aphid.
Usually the first symptom of aphid on a bonsai tree is that you notice a sticky residue on some of the leaves. This is the ‘honeydew’ from the insect and sometimes a black sooty mould will develop as a result.

If you look closely you may be able to see small black or green flies underneath the leaves. When the aphids shed their skins and moult they can leave white skins on the leaves or soil.
Aphids can cause stunted growth or distorted and curled leaves on a bonsai. This can affect the health and weaken the bonsai so it is important to treat this pest.

We spray weekly with a plant invigorator as a preventative measure. This is an environmentally friendly product and is very effective.
However, if you are trying to treat aphids you may find a general insecticide is more effective; especially in the short term. Aphid is a very easy pest to treat with insecticides. These are available from most garden centres and are extremely effective.
Please follow the manufacturers instructions but a repeat spray will be necessary to ensure any eggs which hatch are also treated.


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.

Watering Indoor Bonsai Trees

Question about a Chinese Elm Bonsai which has dried out.

Enquiry from Angela:

Hi Sarah, I got your details from a forum on bonsai. I have a chinese elm ( I think ) which has become dry. I have scraped the bark and it is green underneath, the leaves are very dry and falling off. Can you give me any tips on how to save it ( if it can be saved )

Thanks in advance


Bonsai Direct reply:

Hi Angela,Dry Chinese Elm

Thanks for the photos. Your Chinese Elm bonsai will drop all the leaves – it will look worse before it gets better.
All you can do it stand the whole pot in water for 5 minutes to re-wet the whole root ball. Then only water when the soil is barely damp – the temptation is to keep soaking the soil but this makes it worse.

If you have a mister please spray the branches daily in addition to watering. This helps keep the humidity up. You could put it outside in a semi-shady position.

It will take at least 6 weeks to see new shoots, I hope this helps

Kind regards Sarah

How Do I Prune a Larch (Larix) Outdoor Bonsai Tree?

In this video Lloyd Noall, from Bonsai Direct, shows us how to prune a European Larch – a fantastic deciduous outdoor bonsai tree with great character. Larch trees make beautiful bonsai. During winter the branches are bare revealing intricate branch and twig structures. When spring comes, small bright green needle shaped leaves appear around the buds, giving the appearance of small green flowers. After watering little globules of water are trapped in the centre of the leaves, which sparkle in the sunlight. The foliage darkens during summer and in autumn turns bright gold. The bark also has great character. The Larch is easy to shape using pruning and wiring techniques. We hope you enjoy this video.

How Do I Prune My Bonsai Tree?

In this video Lloyd Noall from Bonsai Direct shows us how to prune your indoor bonsai trees. Using Verity’s bonsai as an example, you will see how to regain the shape of a bonsai tree using simple pruning techniques. The Chinese Elm (Ulmus pavifolia) is a fantastic indoor bonsai tree, with immense character. Ideal bonsai for beginners – easy to grow, care for and style. Great fun to prune!
We would just like to say “Thank you’ to Verity for the opportunity to work on her Chinese Elm bonsai which she was given for Mother’s Day. Verity works in on our website design so gets little time for pruning!!

Bonsai Tree Care Videos

Lloyd Noall has been growing bonsai for over 20 years and is considered to be one of the top bonsai masters. In this DVD Lloyd shares his passion, knowledge and expertise with you. Lloyd teaches the basic principles and techniques for those new to the art of bonsai, but includes much additional information to inspire and inform anyone already embarked in the bonsai journey.

Bonsai Tree Care Videos

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