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We have received this great question from Allan about this pepper tree bonsai:

I have a large collection of bonsai both indoor and outdoor purchased over the last 15 years from various outlets. Among these is the “Pepper Tree” of which i have purchased quite a number but have never been able to keep one over a winter period. They have all beem kept in a South facing window indoors at room temperature and not allowed to dry out. The leaves have faded and dropped off towards the end of the year but have never recovered the following Spring. Can you give me any advice on this subject regarding the Pepper tree, my other Bonsai have never acted in this manner according to different species of which i have had a high success rate. Thanking you Allan F Buckley.

Bonsai Direct Reply:

Dear Allan,
Thank you for your enquiry. The best thing I can explain is how keep our Pepper Trees.
Firstly; we find this a relatively easy bonsai to care for so please do not give up hope. There will be a reason why your Pepper trees are struggling.
We keep our Pepper tree bonsai at a minimum of 12-13 oC at night and a minimum of 18oC during the day. They like a bright position.
We feed them weekly with a liquid bonsai fertiliser.
Pepper tree bonsai are both hungry and thirsty bonsai so please keep them well watered but not soggy.
They grow their root system rapidly so we root prune them every summer otherwise they tend to get pot bound very quickly.
Please could you let me know if the leaves change colour or what the symptoms are when they start to struggle.
I am wondering it is might be advisable to give them a preventative spray with an insecticide, as they can get Red Spider Mite and you would not see it.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Kind regards

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17 replies

  1. Hi Lloyd

    I just bought pepper bonsai tree and its seems that leaves are getting yellow and falling down. Can you please advise me what should I do?

    1. Dear Vaida,
      If you could send me a photo ([email protected]). It could just be re-acclimatising to its new position or it may be lack of water.
      I think I would prefer to see a photo before a make a recommendation because it may just be seasonal changes.
      kind regards

  2. Thank you so much for these answers. It has helped me a lot. Now just to wait and see what the leaves are doing.(First time bonsai)

  3. I have had a Japanese red pepper tree for about a year
    The leaves are dropping & dry despite watering daily

    1. Dear Ahmed,
      I apologise my I have not heard of a Japanese red Pepper tree.
      I wonder if your bonsai has been over-watered and maybe suffering from root rot, making it difficult for the bonsai to take up water.
      Have the leave son the bonsai gone black?
      kind regards
      Bonsai Direct

  4. Hi there,
    Just recently about a month back
    I bought Bonsai Pepper Tree. It is
    kept near a window and watering
    regularly when the top soil stones
    get dried up. Now I have noticed
    that everyday some leaves are dropping off from the tree. Can you
    please guide what steps should I take
    to stop leaves shedding?
    Many thanks,


    1. It could be just seasonal leaf drop. Are the new and old leaves affected or is it just the old leaves?
      The new growing tips should be green.
      When the leaves drop do they change colour or go dry and crispy?
      Kind regards
      Bonsai Direct

      1. Hi there,
        Thanks for your reply. The leaves which have dropped couple of days
        are green. To give more aerification
        to the roots, I poke several areas of
        the compost with a fine screw driver.
        This method has worked and now the
        leaves are not dropping. Today I want
        to ask you about watering & feeding.
        My pepper tree is near a window and
        is getting full sun when sunny. How often should I water and feed. I use
        Tomorite liquid to feed. Also do I need to spray its leaves from time to time.

      2. It is a good idea to spray the leaves daily if you have time. This is in addition to the watering.
        Please do not feed with Tomorite, it is too strong and could scorch the roots of the bonsai.
        I attach a link which I hope will help with feeding:
        I hope this helps
        kind regards

  5. Hi,

    I have a yellow pepper bonsai. My tree had an infestation of what I believe were aphids. I was advised to treat it with a pest spray. This didn’t do anything to get rid of the bugs. I then read that spraying the tree with diluted dish soap and water would work. I did this and the aphids disappeared in quick order but about two days later all the leaves on my bonsai started to dry out and fall off! It’s been three days and nearly all the leave have fallen off or are in the process of turning brown/fallen off. Is there anything I can do or have I killed my poor bonsai in the effort to save it?


  6. Hi Ashley,
    It sounds as though you have made a strong soapy solution – please wash off asap.
    Aphid are usually extremely easy to treat so I am uncertain as to why the pest spray did not work.
    All you can do now is wash off the soap and keep the soil damp (not wet). Hopefully in 6-8 weeks you will see new signs of buds.
    kind regards

  7. My bonsai is losing leaves fast…
    My plant is in a clay pot without drainage holes.
    Should I repot to save the rots… I’m afraid it’s already taken by root rot as the plant has become black or dark in some place

    1. Dear Lyssa,
      I would be inclined not to repot if the bonsai is weak. Please just be very careful with the watering.
      Keep it barely damp. You should repot when it looks stronger. I do not know what sort of bonsai it is but it should not have been sold with out drainage holes. Also; it depends upon the variety as to when you should repot. Kind regards Sarah

  8. I have a red pepper tree leaves are shriveling up and dropping off. There’s no leaves on it now and I keep it damp. I haven’t fed it.

    1. Hi Ian,
      I do not know what a red pepper bonsai is so I don’t want to give you the wrong advice.
      Please could you send a photo and we can check the symptoms,
      kind regards

  9. Hi. I have a zanthoxylum pepper bonsai. It took me a while to figure out how much to water and feed it but after a year it is doing very well. Last year it got a small cluster of peppers late in the year but they died after a few weeks. Currently the tree is covered in new growth and I have noticed several clusters of flowers. Should I remove them or let them grow. The tree is indoors in partial sunlight and I live in Ireland. I’m worried that allowing them to grow will slow down the tree.

    1. Hi Dan, I would allow them to grow and enjoy them for 2-3 weeks and then prune back to encourage new foliage. kind regards Bonsai Direct

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