Question about how to care for a bonsai which has dried out.

We have just received this question from Robyn about caring for her bonsai which has dried out:

I was given a Chinese Elm for Christmas and it has been perefctly healthy, I left it with friends for 2 weeks at the end of April and it dried out a lot, Ive been tying to make up for it but I think if anything, now I have overwatered the poor thing! The leaves that remain (nothing compared to before) are all crispy, but the soil is damp, there are not signs of new buds at the moment, do you think it's too late for my bosai? :(

  • Bonsai Direct says:

    Dear Robyn,
    Thank you for your enquiry.
    If the leaves went crispy your Chinese Elm bonsai has definitely dried out.
    Your are correct; the temptation is to over water it.
    Please give it a position with good daylight but out of hot direct sunlight.
    Please keep the soil just damp (not too wet). If you over-water the bonsai you could rot the roots , although this is a slow process.
    When a bonsai only has a few or no leaves it requires far less water.
    Basically you need to give the bonsai time , it will take at least 2 months before I would expect to see any new shoots but this is a great time of year for the bonsai to recover , I just hope it did not dry out totally.
    If you have a hand mister I would mist the branches daily in addition to watering.
    i hope this helps
    kind regards


5 thoughts on “Question about how to care for a bonsai which has dried out.”

  • Tim

    exactly the same thing happened with me and i did exactly what Sarah has suggested. It took a while (about 3 months) then slowly but surely Barry the Bonsai has made a full recovery and hes gettting pruned on a regular basis.

  • Della Rothe

    We have a similar situation with our Bonsai Chinese Elm - does this also apply to this time of the year? mid July - and do we need to remove all of the damaged leaves (which would leave almost barren).

    • Bonsai Direct

      Hi Della,
      It is most likely during mid-summer when a bonsai could dry out if you are not careful. Yes, please remove the dry crispy leaves; they will drop off anyway.
      The information given then totally applies,
      I hope this helps
      kind regards

  • Bibi Butten

    Hi there. I hadn’t watered my bonsai for a week since I was on holiday. It still has a fair amount of leaves but the leaves are now droopy and lots have fallen off. (It’s a Chinese elm) some of the leaves are green. How can I help nurse him back to health?

    • bonsaidirect

      Dear Bibi,
      I hope this link helps you:
      Kind regards

Leave a Reply