The leaves on my bonsai have gone dry and crispy - what should I do?

The leaves on my bonsai have gone crispy

Crispy leaves on your bonsai
If the leaves on your bonsai tree remain green, but are dry and crispy, then your bonsai has either dried out at some stage or it is in such a hot position that water cannot be transferred from the roots to the leaves quickly enough. Dry crispy bonsai leaves
This often results in the death of bonsai.
To ascertain whether your bonsai is still alive, make a small cut on the trunk or branches in a couple of places. If there is a green layer (Cambium layer) just under the bark then it is still alive, if it is brown, then sadly it is dead.
If there are still signs of life, then keep it cool and moist (just damp and not too wet) until new shoots appear. We recommend a bright position but out of direct sunlight. Be patient as this may take a long time.

If you ever notice that your bonsai has become too dry and the leaves have wilted please stand the bonsai in water, so that the water covers the entire pot for 10 minutes. Then return to checking the watering as normal and keep the soil damp. Please do not over-compensate by over-watering. If a bonsai dries out and drops its leaves it will actually need less water because it is not transpiring!

We also recommend misting your bonsai daily with water, this will aid the recovery and help maintain the humidity. It will also speed up the recovery process.

 

16 thoughts on “The leaves on my bonsai have gone dry and crispy - what should I do?”

  • Yvette

    Please help! I got a bonsai last summer and all through its first winter its leaves have been falling out and branches drying out. On the link there is photos of how it looks now at the end of winter. What should I do to save it?

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwSUtNvEtzOXLS0wWWNvUkg2d0U

    Reply
    • bonsaidirect

      Hi Yvette,
      How frequently do you water your pepper bonsai? The soil looks very dry and I just wonder if this is a simple case of not watering frequently enough.
      For now please stand the bonsai in water so that the water covers the entire pot for 5mins. Does it bubble? Once it is well soaked - this will evenly rewet the entire root ball please then allow to drain. Then check daily for water and water well when the soil looks barely damp.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

      Reply
  • Lauren

    Hi, my Bonsai’s leaves are turning brown, crispy and falling off. Any ideas on what I should do?

    Reply
    • bonsaidirect

      Dear Lauren,
      It sounds as though your bonsai has really dried out.
      Please take a look at this article which should help you:
      https://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/blog/bonsai-care-advice/trouble-shooting/the-leaves-on-my-bonsai-have-gone-dry-and-crispy-what-should-i-do/
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarag

      Reply
  • Jan

    Hello guys,

    I have Chinese elm bonsai tree. It's been doing amazing on my north facing windowsill, I check it daily for watering, mist it every morning and evening (because it's summer now), prune and it about once a week/2 weeks just to keep the nice shape, fertilise about 2 times a month.. and overall everyone who saw it says that it looks really amazing and it is obvious I take a really good care of it.

    But about a month ago I noticed some green stuff on the soil (akadama/kiodama soil mix). It didn't really look like a mould, but I said to myself I will lower the watering for next few days so if it is a mould, it will dry out. But it looks like my whole tree dried out, because the leaves are all crispy (though still green, just few turned yellow) and if i shake the tree a bit or even just touch it, the leaves are falling down. I went back to my watering routine immediately, but nothing seems to change after 3 weeks...

    I really really love my bonsai, but could you tell me the truth - is it dead? :-(

    Regards

    Moneo

    Reply
    • bonsaidirect

      Dear Moneo,
      I suspect that your bonsai is still alive, but has dropped its leaves to protect itself from total dehydration.
      All the affected leaves will drop.
      If you have a mister, please mist the trunk and branches daily with water (tap water is fine).
      This is in addition to keeping the soil damp.
      3 weeks is not long enough to see any improvement - you would need to give the bonsai at least 2 months.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

      Reply
  • Alyssa Doman

    We recently purchased a small potted bonsai. We have since noticed that the leaves are quickly drying out and curling, but are still green with a few that turned yellow before curling and drying out. We are not sure if it is drying out, being over watered, or has another type of disease that would require fungicide. Any tips?

    Reply
    • bonsaidirect

      Dear Alyssa,
      If the leaves are going papery and dry then it is likely to be insufficient watering. It is difficult to say without seeing the bonsai.
      Kind regards
      Sarah

      Reply
  • Joe

    Dear Team,

    I really need some advice and unfortunately although there is lots of info online some of it is very hard to dig out. I have purchased a specimen example Chinese Elm as my first bonsai tree so I want to make sure it stays in good health. It has been placed in my conservatory for the winter period and its original home had informed me it had lived in a heated greenhouse for several years before hand. I have only had the tree for a couple of weeks so I understand that Chinese Elm need time to climatise. Most of the tree looks perfectly healthy..fresh green with lots of new buds opening, but I can wake up to see leaves going very yellow, sometimes yellow brown, others just totally brown overnight. This includes bew growth not just old.... I have been watering only when the dampness isndll drying and have recently purchased your bonsai direct food which I plan to use when the pot is starting to dry. if it helps with your diagnosis I had waited until a couple of waterings and then used Westland bonsai feed concentrate just once.which was 5days ago.
    I cannot work out what the yellowing and browning is and why it is also affecting new growth ? Please help me on my bonsai journey.
    Joe.

    Reply
    • bonsaidirect

      Hi Joe,
      I suspect this is just the bonsai re-acclimatising to its new position. I hope it has stabilised now and the new shoots continue to grow.
      Old leaves dropping at this time of year is not a cause for concern as they bud back so quickly.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards sarah

      Reply
  • Jamison Mills

    Good Afternoon,
    I had received my Chinese elm bonsai tree about 4 months ago as a gift and after about a month, new growth was very visible. Up until about a month ago, the tree was thriving, but now all of the new growth has fallen off and the old leaves have gone crispy and dry but still are green. I have made a few cuts on the trunk and have seen that about an inch from the soil, underneath the bark is brown, but when I moved up about 2 inches, the cambium layer is green and is that way up to the top from what I can tell. What does that mean and is there anything I can do to ensure that is stays alive?

    - Jamison

    Reply
    • bonsaidirect

      Dear Jamison,
      For the leaves to go dry and crispy then the bonsai must have dried out. I hope this link helps you:
      https://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/blog/bonsai-care-advice/trouble-shooting/the-leaves-on-my-bonsai-have-gone-dry-and-crispy-what-should-i-do/
      Kind regards
      Bonsai Direct team

      Reply
  • bashfulgirl

    i could not water my bonsai for 6 days and now all the leaves are falling .what should i do?

    Reply
    • bonsaidirect

      Please stand the bonsai in water for 5 mins then allow to drain. The just keep the soil damp.
      All the leaves may drop and it will take at least 6 weeks to see new buds forming.
      I hope this helps

      Reply
  • Richard H

    Hi I have a Carmona Bonsai, I got it about two weeks ago and a couple of the leaves are turning yellow and brown and the flower shoots have turned brown. After reading on here that it could of dried out I've cut into the bark and its green is there still a chance it will survive?

    Reply
    • bonsaidirect

      Yes of course the bonsai could be alive Richard. Please keep the soil damp at all times. If you think it may have dried out here is some advice :
      https://www.bonsaidirect.co.uk/blog/bonsai-care-advice/trouble-shooting/the-leaves-on-my-bonsai-have-gone-dry-and-crispy-what-should-i-do/
      I hope this helps
      kind regards
      Sarah

      Reply
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