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Bonsai Trouble Shooter

We hope this trouble shooter helps you identify the issue with your bonsai.

Are you having trouble with your bonsai? Is it not looking in the best of health? Are you searching for ‘my your bonsai looks dead’?
Use our super web app below, so you can troubleshoot your bonsai problem. It’s easy to use: just click the relevant radio button next to the image which shows the type of symptoms you’re experiencing and press the troubleshoot button below.

Are you having problems with your bonsai?
If you think your bonsai is sick, compare its symptoms with the list of more common problems above.
Leaves are:

turning pale yellow and dropping off.
mottled with yellow, brown and black spots.
green, but crispy.
pale green to yellow and new shoots are long and spindly.
going black or brown, starting at the tips and slowly working down the leaf.

Mottling of the leaves…
…normally means that you have a pest on your bonsai. Spray with a non-systemic insecticide that kills a broad spectrum of pests , especially Red Spider Mite. Make sure you spray under the foliage and around the trunk. Following this, spray after ten days and then repeat after a further ten days. Always follow the instructions.

If the leaves remain green…
…but are dry and crispy, then your bonsai has dried out at some stage. This often results in the death of bonsai. To ascertain whether your tree is still alive, make a small cut at the base of the trunk in a couple of places. If there is green 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 until new shoots appear. Be patient as this may take a long time.

Long spindly shoots…
…with pale leaves usually mean that the bonsai is growing in a position where there is not enough light. Move it in to a brighter position avoiding direct sunlight all day. Prune back spindly shoots to the first pair of leaves on that shoot.

Bonsai Bugs (Including beneficials)

At Bonsai Direct we use Biological Control to control some pests in our growing areas.

Some insects are friendlies and should be encouraged. In fact, Biological Control – or biocontrol – has been effectively used against invasive species for over 100 years, and is the use of living organisms such as insects or pathogens to control pest populations. Furthermore, this reduces the need for chemical pesticides, just one way in which we are doing our bit for the environment. We would like to introduce them to you so you know they are beneficial if you see them:

I am a friendly bio control to prevent aphid

Although we use bio-control on our nursery, Bonsai Trees can still get pests which may require treatment.

Like all plants, bonsai get bugs. However, most of these are harmless. Bugs most often come from infected plants nearby, and come in through windows, doors and vents. However, having bugs on a bonsai is not necessarily a bad thing; some bugs can even be beneficial! We actually use ‘friendly’ bugs in our greenhouse, as they help deter other, more harmful bugs. Furthermore, these ‘friendlies’ allow us to avoid using insecticides which contain nasty chemicals, as these can often be harmful to the environment.

How harmful are bugs?

Over the last 30 years, we have grown and sold hundreds of thousands of bonsai. This means that we have had all sorts of bugs on our bonsai. But in all this time, we have not lost a single bonsai to a bug problem. Therefore, bugs are really not much to worry about! Furthermore, a lot of bugs are completely harmless and can often be beneficial. However, even the not-so-friendly bugs are still a part of nature, and it is completely normal for bonsai to get bugs.

Use the table below to help you treat your bonsai

Bonsai BugsWhat you can seeHow to treat it (if needed)What it looks like
Aphid (greenfly and blackfly)– These little guys are small green/black insects normally found on leaves
– They can often turn leaves and pots sticky and leave their white skins on leaves
– Don’t worry though! A few greenfly isn’t the end of the world, and a tested insecticide spray will do the job.
Ladybirds will also do the job!
Greenfly
Whitefly– These dainty little white flies are easy to spot– Don’t panic! A tested insecticide spray will sort the problem.
Caterpillar– These little critters like you to know they have visited, by leaving white webs behind.
Curly leaves may be a sign of caterpillar
– Caterpillars will turn into beautiful butterflies or elegant moths in a few weeks, when they will fly away to find a new home!
– However, if you are worried about your resident caterpillar getting a little too hungry, pick caterpillars off or cut off leaves
– If you really don’t like caterpillars, a couple of squirts with a tested insecticide once a week for a month should do the trick!
Caterpillar
Mealy bug– They creepy-crawlies look like tiny, fluffy white ‘woodlice’– An insecticide soil drench should ensure that these little guys do no more damage!
Scale Insect– Tiny small white/brown insects on the trunk and underside of leaves– There are a lot of natural predators of scale insect, including every gardener’s favourite insect: ladybirds!
– However, if you can’t find any little ladybirds around, you will need an insecticide soil drench.
Scale
Scarid Fly and Larvae– These little fellas are completely harmless to bonsai
– They are little black flies around the base of the tree or white worms in the soil
– Being completely harmless to bonsai, there is no need to try and treat these tiny bugs, and they will disappear naturally over a few weeks.
– However, if you don’t want these bug in your house, please stand your bonsai in a container of water for 1 hour so that the water just covers the top of the pot. Then allow to drain.
– If soaking doesn’t work, you will need an insecticide soil drench
Scarid Fly
Springtail Larvae– These small white insects live in the soil and are completely harmless to bonsai– These tiny fellows are completely harmless, and will naturally disappear.
– Don’t want them in your house? Please stand your bonsai in a container of water for 1 hour so that the water just covers the top of the pot. Then allow to drain.
– If soaking doesn’t work, you will need an insecticide soil drench
Red Spider Mite– These little bugs are too small to see!
– They main symptoms are web-like structures and pale mottling on the upper leaf
– For these guys you will need an insecticide soil drench
Vine Weevil– These creepy-crawlies can be identified by large black beetles on plants or small white larvae in the soil– As the beetles are fairly large, they are easy to pick off and re-home outside! Please stand your bonsai in a container of water for 1 hour so that the water just covers the top of the pot. Then allow to drain.
– Moreover, an insecticide soil drench will also do the trick, but please consider the environment!
Black Spot– As implied by its name, this disease presents itself in the form of large black/brown spots on leaves!
– PLEASE NOTE: these spots are very distinctive, and a few brown spots on leaves is unlikely to be black spot.
Infected leaves can be removed
– If the dreaded black spot is persistent, a fungicide will do the job!
Rust Fungus– Less common on bonsai, you will find orange, yellow, brown, black or white spore structures on leavesInfected leaves can be removed
– If this doesn’t work, a fungicide will!

We would like to thank Bioline AgroSciences for the use of some of their images relating to their products.

Chinese Elm Bonsai Tree – Ulmus parvifolia

Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) Indoor Bonsai tree
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Fun to prune
  • Great twig structure
  • Easy to care for
  • Fast growing
  • Beautiful leaf proportion
Example of Chinese Elmbonsai tree

Chinese Elm Indoor Bonsai Tree

The Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) makes a truly beautiful bonsai.
The leaves are small, bright to deep green and are slightly serrated.
The tree has excellent twig structure and has great character throughout, making it the perfect representation of a woodland tree.
In our opinion the Chinese Elm is the most perfectly proportioned, easy to care for and adaptable tree and makes a superb bonsai. Can be grown as an indoor or outdoor bonsai.
A must for anyone and absolutely perfect for beginners. This is a fabulous bonsai to learn pruning, styling & potting techniques because it is fast growing and back buds quickly forming lovely dense foliage pads.

Buy Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) indoor bonsai trees
Buy Chinese Elm Indoor Bonsai (Ulmus parvifolia) with free delivery to most areas.


Chinese Elm Meaning

Bonsai in general symbolise peace, harmony, order of thoughts and balance.
Known as ‘The tree of harmony’, the Elm symbolises inner strength, intuition and wisdom.
A beautiful bonsai which signifies love, balance, calm and a peaceful energy.

Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia) Bonsai Tree Care Summary

Positioning

The Chinese Elm is an easy bonsai to care for. It is not overly fussy about positioning. However, it prefers a position with good natural daylight but out of direct sunlight, especially during the hottest summer months. We recommend a position away from radiators if possible. A window sill would be great but avoid south facing window-sills in mid summer

Temperature

As an indoor bonsai the Chinese Elm is not fussy about temperature. If you are growing your bonsai outside, please place in a sheltered position in the garden. Outside this bonsai is semi-evergreen so you should expect the leaves to drop. For very cold nights (below freezing) we would recommend that you bring the bonsai into a shed, glasshouse or cool room

Watering

Watering is an important part of growing bonsai trees, an indoor bonsai is dependent upon us to check it regularly to ensure it does not dry out. Please check the soil daily whilst you are learning. To touch the soil surface, if the soil is wet or damp then your bonsai does not require water. When the soil is barely damp to the touch please soak the soil. Please view our video for help.

Misting

All indoor bonsai trees benefit from having their foliage misted with water. This is in addition to watering the soil. Misting helps to maintain the humidity around the tree, this is more important during winter months when the central heating is on, as this tends to dry out the air.

Feeding

If you are growing your bonsai indoors, please feed weekly with a liquid bonsai fertiliser. Please avoid using houseplant fertiliser as it can be too strong and scorch the roots. Bonsai Direct fertiliser is ideal for all varieties of bonsai has contains all the nutrients and trace elements your tree requires.

Pruning/Styling

An indoor Chinese Elm will grow all year (only a little more slowly during winter months). It is a fun bonsai to prune and ideal for beginners. We usually recommend allowing 2 new pairs of leaves to form before pruning back to the first pair. Pruning encourages new leaves to form and helps maintain a highly defined shape. New leaves have a fresh lime green colour. You can prune at any time of year.
If you would like to add shape to existing branches you could try wiring your bonsai. This is a technique used to add more character to your tree.

Growing/Propagating your own Chinese Elm bonsai trees

We are frequently asked for bonsai seed kits but the reality is that thee kits are rather a disappointed. They frequently don’t germinate and it is not the best way to propagate indoor bonsai trees. You are far better to purchase a bonsai, so you can enjoy growing it, and propagate new bonsai by taking cuttings.
These are best taken in spring. Allow new shoots to grow 8-10cm and then prune with clean pruning scissors. Pop these cuttings into some fresh multipurpose compost in a small pot. Water them and then keep misting to maintain humidity.

Re-potting your bonsai

Young bonsai will require repotting more regularly that mature specimens. All plants become pot bound over time, and bonsai trees are no exception. We recommend re-potting or root pruning (if the pot is still aesthetically larger enough) usually every 2-3 years.

Bonsai Tip

We recommend a weekly spray with Plant Invigorator to prevent pests and diseases and to keep your bonsai healthy. This really stimulates the Chinese Elm.
Please avoid using air freshener near your bonsai, they are not overly keen!

Oriental Tea Tree Bonsai – Carmona microphylla

Oriental Tea Tree (Carmona microphylla) indoor bonsai trees
  • Pretty white flowers
  • Very artistic bonsai
  • Beautiful leaf shape
  • Low maintenance
  • For warm environments
  • Infrequent watering
Example of Carmona bonsai tree

The Oriental Tea Tree (Carmona microphylla) is a simple & elegant flowering bonsai ideal for growing indoors. This bonsai has pretty white flowers during summer months & lovely green, shiny & waxy foliage. The leaves are unusually shaped & well proportioned. The leaves grow in neat clusters allowing the flowers and branch structure to be highly visible.

Buy Oriental Tea Tree (Carmona microphylla) indoor bonsai trees
Buy Oriental Tea Tree Indoor Bonsai (Carmona microphylla) with free delivery to most areas.

Tree meanings
Bonsai in general symbolise peace, harmony, order of thoughts and balance.
The Oriental Tea Tree is a stunning, artistic bonsai with beautiful white flowers which symbolises courage and ‘heart’.

Oriental Tea Tree (Carmona microphylla) Bonsai Care Summary

Positioning & Temperature
The Oriental Tea Tree is an easy bonsai to care for, but it does not like cold or draughty environments. This fabulous bonsai prefers a warm position in your home or office and likes a relatively even temperature without huge fluctuations. A warm lounge or kitchen would be ideal. Please position your bonsai with good daylight but avoid very hot positions in mid-summer so that it does not scorch.

Watering
Watering is an important part of growing bonsai trees, an indoor bonsai is dependent upon us to check it regularly to ensure it does not dry out. Please check the soil daily whilst you are learning. Touch the soil surface, if the soil is wet or damp then your bonsai does not require water. When the soil is barely damp to the touch please soak the soil. The Oriental Tea Tree has a very fine fibrous root system and prefers to be kept slightly on the drier side. We recommend that you keep the soil damp and not too wet.

Misting
Although not essential, misting the leaves of indoor bonsai trees helps maintain the humidity around the bonsai. This is actually more important during winter months when the air is dried out by the central heating. Misting should be in addition to checking the soil for water.

Feeding
Feeding with a bonsai feed will help keep your Oriental Tea Tree healthy, vigorous and encourage flowers to form. Bonsai are dependent upon us for nutrients and our Bonsai Direct Fertiliser has the correct nutrient balance and trace elements that your bonsai requires. We feed weekly throughout the year; your bonsai grows throughout the year, just a little more slowly during the winter months.

Pruning/Styling
This is a relatively slow growing variety of bonsai, so pruning will be mainly limited to the spring/summer growing season. This bonsai has a very neat and compact habit and it is easy to produce the highly defined shape that one expects from a beautiful bonsai. New shoots usually sprout in an upwards direction. Allow a shoot of approx. 5cm to form and the prune back to 2 new leaves with a sharp pair of bonsai pruning scissors. The new leaves are often a lighter green so this is very easy to determine.

Growing/Propagating your own Carmona microphylla bonsai trees
We are frequently asked for bonsai seed kits but the reality is that thee kits are rather a disappointed. They frequently don’t germinate and it is not the best way to propagate indoor bonsai trees. You are far better to purchase a bonsai, so you can enjoy growing it, and propagate new bonsai by taking cuttings.
These are best taken in spring. Allow new shoots to grow 8-10cm and then prune with clean pruning scissors. Pop these cuttings into some fresh multipurpose compost in a small pot. Water them and then keep misting to maintain humidity.

Re-potting your bonsai
Young bonsai will require repotting more regularly that mature specimens. All plants become pot bound over time, and bonsai trees are no exception. We recommend re-potting or root pruning (if the pot is still aesthetically larger enough) usually every 2-3 years. When re-potting the Oriental tea tree you want to minimise the disturbance of the original root ball. Often you will read about removing a quarter of the root ball when re-potting a bonsai, we recommend that you ignore this advice when re-potting a Carmona. They have particularly fine roots which do not like being disturbed. The root system is not vigorous so re-potting should only be considered when the root ball is pretty solid. When you do come to repot simply remove from its original pot and tease out a few roots around the edge of the root ball, with a chopstick. There is no need to remove much of the soil. Pop into a slightly larger pot and add some fresh bonsai soil around the edge of the pot. Please remember re-potting of indoor bonsai is best undertaken during the warmer summer months when the bonsai is growing.

Bonsai tip
Spraying with a Plant Invigorator helps to deter pest and disease and helps keep all bonsai trees healthy.
Please avoid using air freshener near your bonsai, they are not overly keen!

Chinese Sweet Plum Bonsai Tree – Sageretia theezans

Chinese Sweet Plum (Sageretia theezans) indoor bonsai tree
  • Pretty purple fruits
  • Easy to care for
  • Quick and fun to grow
  • Easy to style
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Red-tinged new foliage
Example of Chinese Sweet Plum Bonsai

The Chinese Sweet Plum (Sageretia theezans) is a pretty indoor bonsai which has great character at an early age due to the flaky bark revealing tones of red/tan. The stunning foliage has hints of rusty red turning to glossy green. Small white flowers give rise to tiny purple plum-shaped fruits.
A really pretty bonsai. Ideal for beginners with fabulous character.

Buy Chinese Sweet Plum (Sageretia theezans) indoor bonsai trees
Buy Chinese Sweet Plum Indoor Bonsai (Sageretia theezans) with free delivery to most areas.

Tree meanings
Bonsai in general symbolise peace, harmony, order of thoughts and balance.
This bonsai symbolises protection, health and wishes.
Wonderfully signifies new life, renewal and creativity.

Chinese Sweet Plum (Sageretia theezans) Bonsai Care Summary

Positioning & Temperature
The Chinese Sweet Plum is an easy indoor bonsai species to care for. It likes a bright position, with good natural daylight, but as with all bonsai, should not be placed in a very hot position in mid-summer. It is not fussy about temperature, but it is not frost hardy so would not be suitable to grow as an outdoor bonsai during the winter months.

Watering
Watering is a lovely and essential part of bonsai tree care. It is a simple, yet vital part of growing bonsai and only takes a few seconds. We recommend whilst you are learning to check the soil daily. If the soil is wet or very damp, please do not water your bonsai. When the soil starts to firm and feels barely damp to the touch, water well by either standing the bonsai in water for a few minutes or by pouring water over the soil surface to re-wet the root ball evenly.

Misting
Misting the leaves of your Chinese Sweet Plum is not essential, but does enhance the growth during winter months in particular. In the winter, when the central heating is on, the air can get very dry and misting will simply replace some of the lost humidity and encourage new foliage growth.

Feeding
Feeding bonsai trees is good practice. The bonsai rely on us to provide the nutrients and trace elements they need. A well balanced bonsai feed, such as Bonsai Direct Fertiliser, will maintain healthy and beautiful trees and promote growth, fruiting and flowering.

Pruning/Styling
The Sweet Plum Bonsai is a relatively fast growing bonsai variety and is fun to prune and style. The new shoots are often flecked with russet tones which really does make it look very pretty. To maintain the lovely highly defined foliage pads and pretty canopy it is important not to let the shoots grow too long and straggly. By keeping the shoots trimmed, you will be encouraging back budding and new leaves to grow. Most new growth will appear during spring or summer. Allow a shoot to grow approx. 4cm and then prune back to the first two new leaves. Use a sharp pair of bonsai pruning scissors to do this. Within 4-6 weeks you can usually see signs of new shoots emerging further back down the branches, it is very rewarding.
If you would like to try some re-styling you could try some wiring techniques. Generally, wiring is used to give a branch or slender trunk more character and shape.

Growing/Propagating your own Chinese Sweet Plum bonsai trees
We are frequently asked for bonsai seed kits but the reality is that thee kits are rather a disappointed. They frequently don’t germinate and it is not the best way to propagate indoor bonsai trees. You are far better to purchase a bonsai, so you can enjoy growing it, and propagate new bonsai by taking cuttings.
These are best taken in spring. Allow new shoots to grow 8-10cm and then prune with clean pruning scissors. Pop these cuttings into some fresh multipurpose compost in a small pot. Water them and then keep misting to maintain humidity.

Re-potting your bonsai
If a bonsai becomes pot bound the roots cannot grow. Consequently, the tree cannot grow. The younger the tree the quicker it is growing and the more frequently it will require root pruning or re-potting. As a general rule you are looking at approximately every 2-3 years, and older specimens every 4-5 years. If the pot that your bonsai is in is aesthetically large enough, you may simply be able to root prune your bonsai and it may not require a larger pot at all. Re-potting is best done when the bonsai is actively growing during the warmer summer months. If the bonsai requires a larger pot, simply lift the root ball out of the current pot, tease out approximately one quarter of the root ball with a chop stick to loosen the roots around the edge and position into its new, slightly larger, pot. Use good quality, free draining soil, such as Akadama, and work around the edge of the pot. Stand your re-potted bonsai in water, so that the water covers the whole pot, for approximately 5 mins and then allow to drain.

Akadama is a high quality Japanese bonsai soil made from dried loam. It is granular, so is free flowing and easy and clean to work with. The small balls also encourage the growth of lovely fibrous feeder roots, which is what we want when growing bonsai trees.

Bonsai tips
Please avoid using air freshener near your bonsai, they are not overly keen!
Sweet Plum (Sageretia theezans) bonsai trees respond well to the use of a Plant Invigorator to help keep the free from pests and help promote new growth. We use this weekly as a preventive measure.

Indoor Fig Bonsai – Ficus retusa

Fig (Ficus retusa) beginners indoor bonsai tree
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Very easy to care for
  • Develops character aerial roots
  • Suitable for darker rooms
  • Deep green glossy leaves
  • Resistant to most pests/diseases
Example of Ficus retusa beginners bonsai

The fig (Ficus retusa) has dark green glossy leaves and is unusual in that it will tolerate lower light levels. The fig makes a fantastic indoor bonsai and should be protected from the frost.
It buds back very quickly after pruning and has an immense amount of character in the truck and aerial root system. A very powerful bonsai, fun and easy to care for. It is also less susceptible to pest attack. Protect from cold (min 10oC). Fabulous bonsai for beginners and ideal for the home or office.
Bonsai in general symbolise peace, harmony, order of thoughts and balance.
The Fig symbolises fertility and love.
The Bible indicates that the Fig tree has spiritual meaning.
The tree that signifies health both spiritually and physically.
A tree with energy.

Buy fig indoor bonsai trees
Buy Fig Indoor Bonsai (Ficus retusa) with free delivery to most areas.

Aromatic Pepper Tree Bonsai – Zanthoxylum pipertum

Aromatic Pepper Tree indoor bonsai
  • Aromatic foliage
  • Easy to care for
  • Interesting glossy leaves
  • Unusual feathery foliage
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Something a little different
Example of paper tree indoor bonsai

The Pepper Tree (Zanthoxylum pipertum) is an outstanding indoor bonsai and has a sweet aromatic peppery fragrance and bright green glossy foliage. Small clusters of tiny white flowers develop from January onwards. The bark is fissured and adds character & age to this very elegant & exciting bonsai. The Pepper Tree is easy to care for and makes an ideal bonsai for beginners. If you want something a little unusual then this would be my personal recommendation. I love it.
Bonsai in general symbolise peace, harmony, order of thoughts and balance.

The Pepper Tree is an outstanding bonsai with a fresh, fruity fragrance which symbolises purification, healing and protection.

Buy Pepper Tree Indoor bonsai trees
Buy Aromatic Pepper Tree Indoor Bonsai (Zanthoxylum pipertum) with free delivery to most areas.

Ligustrum sinense – A Beautiful Indoor Bonsai for Beginners

Ligustrum sinense indoor bonsai tree
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Fun to prune
  • Easy to care for
  • Low maintenance
  • Fast growing
  • Strong and vigorous
Ligustrum sinense beginners bonsai for sale

A most fabulous fast growing indoor bonsai which is fun to grow, easy to care for and ideal for practising wiring & styling techniques. This vigorous bonsai is ideal for beginners and displays a strong structure and highly defined shape. Soft bright green leaves for a pretty canopy.

Buy ligustrum indoor bonsai trees
Buy Ligustrum Indoor Bonsai (Ligustrum sinense) with free delivery to most areas.

The Ligustrum sinense is a fabulous indoor bonsai variety and a relative of the Olive tree (Oleaceae Family).
This is without doubt an all-time favourite beginners indoor bonsai and has so much to offer.
It is very fast growing, making it fun to prune and style.
It is very easy to care for and not fussy about where it should be positioned.
It has a strong and vigorous trunk and shoots, resulting in bonsai with a powerful and artistic structure.

The leaves of this beautiful indoor bonsai have great proportions with smooth edges and a wonderful fresh spring green in colour. This results in a very pretty and full canopy of leaves.
As the bonsai matures it also displays pretty white/creamy coloured flowers.
Grown as an indoor bonsai variety the Ligustrum is evergreen and keeps its leaves all year round. In our experience leaf drop is absolutely minimal.
As a fast growing bonsai species this bonsai is a hungry tree which likes to be frequently fed with bonsai food, but is very rewarding.
A great variety to practice bonsai skills such as pruning and wiring. It is easy to style and will produce a well structured and highly artistic bonsai. It will form beautiful informal upright or broom style bonsai trees.

We believe this to be an exceptional bonsai that does not receive the credit that it deserves.
An under-rated indoor bonsai variety in our opinion but one we highly recommend.

Tree meanings
Bonsai in general symbolise peace, harmony, order of thoughts and balance.
The ligustrum sinense symbolises peace and friendship.

Ligustrum Indoor Bonsai Care Summary

Positioning & Temperature
The Ligustrum is an easy indoor bonsai species to care for. It likes a bright position, with good natural daylight, but as with all bonsai, should not be placed in a very hot position in mid-summer. It is not fussy about temperature, but it is not frost hardy so would not be suitable to grow as an outdoor bonsai during the winter months.

Watering
Watering is a lovely and essential part of bonsai tree care. It is a simple, yet vital part of growing bonsai and only takes a few seconds. We recommend whilst you are learning to check the soil daily. If the soil is wet or very damp, please do not water your bonsai. When the soil starts to firm and feels barely damp to the touch, water well by either standing the bonsai in water for a few minutes or by pouring water over the soil surface to re-wet the root ball evenly.

Misting
Misting the leaves of your Ligustrum bonsai is not essential, but does enhance the growth during winter months in particular. In the winter, when the central heating is on, the air can get very dry and misting will simply replace some of the lost humidity and encourage new foliage growth.

Feeding
Feeding bonsai trees is good practice. The bonsai rely on us to provide the nutrients and trace elements they need. A well balanced bonsai feed, such as Bonsai Direct Fertiliser, will maintain healthy and beautiful trees and promote growth, fruiting and flowering.

Pruning/Styling
The Ligustrum Bonsai is a relatively fast growing bonsai variety and is fun to prune and style. The new shoots are often flecked with russet tones which really does make it look very pretty. To maintain the lovely highly defined foliage pads and pretty canopy it is important not to let the shoots grow too long and straggly. By keeping the shoots trimmed, you will be encouraging back budding and new leaves to grow. Most new growth will appear during spring or summer. Allow a shoot to grow approx. 4cm and then prune back to the first two new leaves. Use a sharp pair of bonsai pruning scissors to do this. Within 4-6 weeks you can usually see signs of new shoots emerging further back down the branches, it is very rewarding.
If you would like to try some re-styling you could try some wiring techniques. Generally, wiring is used to give a branch or slender trunk more character and shape.

Growing/Propagating your own Ligustrum bonsai trees
We are frequently asked for bonsai seed kits but the reality is that thee kits are rather a disappointed. They frequently don’t germinate and it is not the best way to propagate indoor bonsai trees. You are far better to purchase a bonsai, so you can enjoy growing it, and propagate new bonsai by taking cuttings.
These are best taken in spring. Allow new shoots to grow 8-10cm and then prune with clean pruning scissors. Pop these cuttings into some fresh multipurpose compost in a small pot. Water them and then keep misting to maintain humidity.

Re-potting your bonsai
If a bonsai becomes pot bound the roots cannot grow. Consequently, the tree cannot grow. The younger the tree the quicker it is growing and the more frequently it will require root pruning or re-potting. As a general rule you are looking at approximately every 2-3 years, and older specimens every 4-5 years. If the pot that your bonsai is in is aesthetically large enough, you may simply be able to root prune your bonsai and it may not require a larger pot at all. Re-potting is best done when the bonsai is actively growing during the warmer summer months. If the bonsai requires a larger pot, simply lift the root ball out of the current pot, tease out approximately one quarter of the root ball with a chop stick to loosen the roots around the edge and position into its new, slightly larger, pot. Use good quality, free draining soil, such as Akadama, and work around the edge of the pot. Stand your re-potted bonsai in water, so that the water covers the whole pot, for approximately 5 mins and then allow to drain.

Akadama is a high quality Japanese bonsai soil made from dried loam. It is granular, so is free flowing and easy and clean to work with. The small balls also encourage the growth of lovely fibrous feeder roots, which is what we want when growing bonsai trees.

Bonsai tips
Please avoid using air freshener near your bonsai, they are not overly keen!
Ligustrum bonsai trees respond well to the use of a Plant Invigorator to help keep the free from pests and help promote new growth. We use this weekly as a preventive measure.

Jade Tree Indoor Bonsai requires minimal watering

Perfect beginners indoor bonsai for sale
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Easy to care for
  • Minimal watering
  • Low maintenance
  • Fast growing
  • Perfect for children
Portulacaria afra/Crassula ovata

An absolutely fantastic indoor bonsai variety which is incredibly easy to care for. This bonsai does not require regular watering, making it significantly easier to care for. Ideal for complete beginners and highly recommended for children. A wonderful bonsai with character and beautiful proportions.

Buy Jade Indoor Bonsai
Buy Jade Indoor Bonsai (Portulacaria afra) with free delivery to most areas.

The miniature Jade Tree (Portulacaria afra) is an indoor bonsai which has small round pad shaped leaves and a compact habit.
A highly recommended bonsai for complete beginners or children who are starting out – a very forgiving tree!
This bonsai requires minimal watering so is perfect for those who forget to water!
A tree which originates from warmer climates, hence its adaption to require less water.
If you have a particularly warm room this variety will thrive.
Jade trees often feature strongly in feng shui designs and make the perfect gift symbolising luck and prosperity.
This Jade Tree is very similar in appearance to Crassula ovata [the Friendship Tree, Lucky Plant or Money Tree bonsai]; they are frequently mistaken. The Jade Tree (P. afra) has smaller and rounder pads and more compact growth making it far more suitable to grow as a bonsai. It is also hardier and faster growing.
This is a variety of bonsai which is far better to be barely damp. It does not require frequent watering like other varieties. It is not frost hardy but will grow very happily in your home or office.
Another wonderful quality of this tree is that it is very easy to take cuttings from. Cuttings are best taken in spring or summer, then allowed to dry out for a day before potting into a very free draining or gritty compost. Keep the soil moist and in a few weeks you will have a little baby plantlet.

We believe this to be an exceptional bonsai that does not receive the credit that it deserves.
An under-rated indoor bonsai variety in our opinion but one we highly recommend.

Tree meanings
Bonsai in general symbolise peace, harmony, order of thoughts and balance.
The Jade tree makes the perfect gift; symbolising luck and prosperity

Jade Indoor Bonsai Care Summary

Positioning & Temperature
The Jade is an easy indoor bonsai species to care for. It likes a bright position, with good natural daylight, but as with all bonsai, should not be placed in a very hot position in mid-summer. It is not fussy about temperature, but it is not frost hardy so would not be suitable to grow as an outdoor bonsai during the winter months.

Watering
This is very simple for the Jade bonsai. Regular watering is not essential. The soil damp be maintained just damp (i.e. water once a week).

Misting
Misting the leaves of your Jade bonsai is not necessary.

Feeding
Feeding bonsai trees is good practice. The bonsai rely on us to provide the nutrients and trace elements they need. A well balanced bonsai feed, such as Bonsai Direct Fertiliser, will maintain healthy and beautiful trees and promote growth, fruiting and flowering.

Pruning/Styling
The Jade Bonsai is a relatively fast growing bonsai variety and is fun to prune and style.  To maintain the lovely highly defined foliage pads and pretty canopy it is important not to let the shoots grow too long and straggly. By keeping the shoots trimmed, you will be encouraging back budding and new leaves to grow. Most new growth will appear during spring or summer. Allow a shoot to grow approx. 4cm and then prune back to the first two new leaves. Use a sharp pair of bonsai pruning scissors to do this. Within 4-6 weeks you can usually see signs of new shoots emerging further back down the branches, it is very rewarding.

Growing/Propagating your own Jade bonsai trees
We are frequently asked for bonsai seed kits but the reality is that thee kits are rather a disappointed. They frequently don’t germinate and it is not the best way to propagate indoor bonsai trees. You are far better to purchase a bonsai, so you can enjoy growing it, and propagate new bonsai by taking cuttings.
Another wonderful quality of this tree is that it is very easy to take cuttings from. Cuttings are best taken in spring or summer, then allowed to dry out for a day before potting into a very free draining or gritty compost. Keep the soil moist and in a few weeks you will have a little baby plantlet.

Re-potting your bonsai
If a bonsai becomes pot bound the roots cannot grow. Consequently, the tree cannot grow. The younger the tree the quicker it is growing and the more frequently it will require root pruning or re-potting. As a general rule you are looking at approximately every 2-3 years, and older specimens every 4-5 years. If the pot that your bonsai is in is aesthetically large enough, you may simply be able to root prune your bonsai and it may not require a larger pot at all. Re-potting is best done when the bonsai is actively growing during the warmer summer months. If the bonsai requires a larger pot, simply lift the root ball out of the current pot, tease out approximately one quarter of the root ball with a chop stick to loosen the roots around the edge and position into its new, slightly larger, pot. Use good quality, free draining soil, such as Akadama, and work around the edge of the pot. Stand your re-potted bonsai in water, so that the water covers the whole pot, for approximately 5 mins and then allow to drain.

Akadama is a high quality Japanese bonsai soil made from dried loam. It is granular, so is free flowing and easy and clean to work with. The small balls also encourage the growth of lovely fibrous feeder roots, which is what we want when growing bonsai trees.

Bonsai tips
Please avoid using air freshener near your bonsai, they are not overly keen!
Jade bonsai trees respond well to the use of a Plant Invigorator to help keep the free from pests and help promote new growth. We use this weekly as a preventive measure.

What do I do with my bonsai tree when I go on holiday?

What should I do with my bonsai when I go on holiday??

Please take your little tree on holiday with you hehe….

If you are just going away for a short break (up to 5 days) please stand your bonsai in a tub or the kitchen sink in water, so that the water level is at least half way up the pot. Please ensure that it is in a cool position. The bonsai will be over-watered for a few days but this is preferable to drying out. Upon your return remove the bonsai from the water and then only water again when the soil is barely damp. Then return to your normal watering regime.

If you are going away for longer than 5 days then you need to find a friend or neighbour to take care of the bonsai for you. Please leave them with care instructions and you could even recommend that they watch our bonsai watering video. It is normally a good idea for them to take it home with them – then they won’t forget to water it!

My bonsai looks dead. What shall I do?

If you’ve reached this post because you’re concerned about the health of your bonsai tree, then you’ve come to the right place.
Firstly, don’t fret that your bonsai is dead. It might not be, but may look like it because it’s lost all its leaves.

There’s a very simple test which can quickly help you determine whether your bonsai is actually dead.
Just beneath the bark is a layer in all plants called the cambium layer. If it is green, it indicates that the tree is alive.
By scratching back the top layer of bark – with just a fingernail and not too heavily – the cambium layer should be visible. Of course, if it’s not there, your tree is most definitely dead.

Don’t be disheartened though. Bonsai care can be a magical thing, and we want you to feel it’s a pleasure and not a trial. Why not click here to help you choose another bonsai, that might be more suited to your environment or tastes.
If you’re really not sure whether you want to carry on with bonsai, contact us at help@bonsaidirect.co.uk, and we’ll do our best to help or give you a discount code for a new tree.

My Bonsai looks dead? Check the simple things!

If you’ve checked the cambium layer, and it’s green, that’s good news and it’s still alive.
The next step is to check the fundamentals of looking after your tree and its environment.

Sometimes the simplest things can be at the root of your bonsai problems, and with just a few changes, you might be able to bring your bonsai back. So check how you’re watering your bonsai; not under or over-watering. Both can have similar symptoms. 90% of bonsai problems are due to the watering, so, chances are, you have a watering issue.

Check the environment of your tree. We get many enquiries about the health of people’s bonsai, and many cases result in one of the solutions simply being to move the tree into more light, or a slightly warmer area of a house.

What factors should you consider when choosing a bonsai pot?

The choice of pot is extremely significant when re-potting a bonsai. Literally translated the word ‘bon-sai’ means pot and tree, so the pot is as significant as the design of the tree which it holds. The tree and pot should be in harmony together and be extremely well balanced.
The first thing to ensure is that the bonsai pot is the correct size. Usually, if you are repotting a bonsai we would recommend making the new pot at a minimum of 5cm larger in length and width to allow the bonsai to grow, albeit slowly.

Secondly, please ensure that your bonsai pot has drainage holes in the bottom. The drainage holes prevent the bonsai soil from becoming water logged and thus reduce the chance of root rot.

Please consider the image below. The bonsai in pot A, B, C, and D is the same tree, but you can appreciate how different it looks in different shapes, colours and styles of pot. All four of these pots are the right size for the bonsai they are just aesthetically different. None of the pots is wrong but I am sure you have a personal preference as to which one suits the bonsai best. Some people like to choose colours which are reflected in the colour scheme of their kitchen or lounge. This is also perfectly reasonable providing the bonsai looks balanced and ‘at one’ with its pot.

This is the same bonsai tree photographed in four different pots so that you can appreciate how the pot affects the aesthetics of the overall bonsai.

If you are choosing a pot for an indoor bonsai you may wish to choose one with a ceramic drip tray. It is important for outdoor bonsai that the pot you choose is frost hardy. All the pots we sell are frost hardy but please remember if the frost goes on for a very long time the ice in the root ball makes the root ball swell and this may possibly crack the pot. For extended cold periods, we recommend protecting the bonsai (ie cover it or put if somewhere unheated) to also stop dehydration. A bonsai with a root ball that is frozen solid cannot take up water.

We did a social media campaign to identify which for the four pots above was the generally preferred choice and the result was POT D.
Holly, from Bonsai Direct, now shows you how to re-pot this specific Chinese Elm bonsai (which Lloyd named Angus) into POT D. View Holly’s blog on How do I re-pot and root prune my bonsai tree.

Why are pots integral to bonsai?

Bonsai pots are integral to the aesthetic and health of the bonsai.

Not only this, but the word bonsai can be broken down into “Bon”, which is a dish or thin bowl (or a modified vessel which has been divided or cut down from a deeper form). And “Sai”, which is a tree or other growing plant which is planted. The Chinese characters for their older dwarf potted tree landscapes were adopted to name the Japanese art-form. Bonsai in Japanese is written as 盆栽

Leaving aside the historical origins and literal meanings, bonsai pots are important to both the aesthetic and health of the tree. There are practical reasons too; such as drainage holes and the natural porosity which prevents the root from rotting.

In keeping with a more traditional style, the pots tend to have a deep colour and be deeply glazed. Typically they are deep blue (to represent water) or deep green (to represent grass). Therefore, it’s all about reflecting the natural world.

Take a look at our great selection of pots and trays to enhance the appearance of your bonsai.

How do I repot my bonsai tree video DVD – 8 chapters

Lloyd Noall’s Bonsai Lessons Volume 2 – Potting Basics

Excellent and informative DVD about how to re-pot both indoor & outdoor bonsai trees, by Bonsai Master Lloyd Noall.
Lloyd teaches the basic principles and techniques of bonsai root pruning and re-potting. In this DVD the re-potting of a Chinese Elm (indoor bonsai) and Japanese Red Maple (outdoor bonsai) are described in details.
The entire DVD has been split into 8 easy to access chapters. We would love some feedback on our videos. You should be able to comment below.

Chapter 1

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