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Overwatering bonsai tree symptoms
Overwatering bonsai trees

Overwatered bonsai trees can show begin to struggle, and could eventually die if it is not allowed to recover. However, don’t worry – all is not lost yet!
If the tips to the leaves on your bonsai go soft and black/brown this can indicate one of two problems:

  • Your bonsai is suffering from over-watering.
  • Your bonsai has been hit by frost or become too cold.

In the case of indoor bonsai, brown/black tips to the leaves is usually indicative of over-watering. Frequently this is also associated with the bonsai becoming loser or wobbly within the pot. Over-watering is not something which happens quickly; it is a slow degenerative issue which slowly rots the roots and the bonsai can even exhibit symptoms of wilty leaves (usually associated with lack of water). This is because the roots become weak and do not function properly.

If you observe these symptoms please place the bonsai in a cooler position with good daylight and out of direct sun. Check the bonsai daily for water and only water the soil when it is barely damp to the touch. It will take a long time to see new buds or leaves on an overwatered bonsai; in this time you are hoping that your bonsai will re-grow the root system. It is important not to feed a bonsai during recovery. 

Watering Your Bonsai

Watering is the most important part of looking after a bonsai, especially if it had a previous watering issue. To help your bonsai recover from a watering issue, or to keep it healthy, please keep the soil damp to the touch at all times. We have created a video to help you water you bonsai properly, which you can find here.

92 replies

  1. Hi,

    My tree are over watered and half of the tree dropping leaves another half growing new once. I have not watered for 2 weeks now but still not drying up. What to do?


    1. I regret there is nothing else you can try. It sounds as though the roots are weak through over-watering. It will take several weeks for the roots to get stronger. When they are stronger hopefully the canopy will start to recover but this will take time.
      Kind regards
      Sarah – Bonsai Direct

  2. I’ve had my tea tree bonsai for just over year. It hasn’t had many new shoots and now the leaves are going brown and dropping off. I don’t think it’s overwatering. It’s in a draught free spot with some sun, but the room temperature is not consistently 20 degrees (which I think is too warm a room temperature for people and the environment) Can you suggest a solution? I was wondering about a cloche in winter if you think this is the problem.

    1. Hi Heather,
      Are the leaves soft and brown or crispy and brown?
      This could be just seasonal leaf drop if it is the old leaves. Perhaps you could send me a photo so i can check this.
      many thanks
      [email protected]

  3. I have a juniper bonsai tree (I think) and it is possible that it has been over watered but the leaves are crispy and brown they are even brown near the branches any ideas on if it is over watering and any way to fix it?
    Thank you!

  4. Dear Emily,
    I think the first thing to do is establish if you do have a Juniper. The advice would depend upon the variety of bonsai.
    Please could you email me a photo and I can check this for it. Please let me know where you keep it.
    Many thanks
    [email protected]

  5. Hi,
    I was given an oriental tea tree (Carmona) bonsai for christmas but I think it has been in normal potting soil as I have only watered once surface soil appeared just damp/dry but is now definitely showing signs of root rot which I recognise from orchids being in the incorrect soil. I’ve ordered a replacement soil that looks to have better drainage components but is there anything I can do to help the tree while the new soil is on its way?
    Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Dear Amy,
      The Oriental Tea Tree has quite fine roots so sometimes growers use a peaty/sandy mix for this variety.
      When you do repot it, please do not disturb too much of the existing root structure.
      Just keep the soil damp and not wet in the meantime,
      The Tea Tree does not like to be wet, damp soil is perfect.
      kind regards

  6. Hii,
    I have a Ficus indoor Bonsai.
    I overwatered it and mold (I guess) started to grow (white powdery stuff, around the base of the tree and around the pot.
    And just as he first comment. half of the tree is dropping leaves another half growing new ones.

    I removed the tree with the soil from the pot and removed the excess of water. I put news paper around the soil so it will absorb the excess of water in the soil, close to a window. No direct sunlight.

    What are the next steps?

    Many many thanks!

    1. Dear Lono,
      I suspect the lower and older leaves are dropping and the new top leaves are growing; is this correct?
      Please make sure it is in a pot with good drainage hole and that the bonsai does not stand in water.
      Kind regards

  7. I have two young Japanese elms sported in June 2017. Some of the leaves have gone brown at the tips and are crispy, some have fallen off completely. What should I do? I don’t think I’m under watering maybe to much how do I get them healthy.

    1. Dear Matthew, Black tips to the leaves is usually a sign of over-watering. The roots start to rot and then the saplings show signs of under-watering because the roots are not working efficiently.
      Please keep the soil just damp and give then 2-3 months before you will see any improvement. The roots must re-grow before the leaves can show any signs of improvement.
      I hope this helps
      The Bonsai Direct Team

  8. I have have a Blue Star Juniper that I just purchased a few weeks ago and the ends of the tree leaves are turning brown rapidly. I water Often and mist the leaves to keep humidity often too. The trunk and branches don’t seem to be flimsy or weak…. Whats wrong ?! The tree is nearly 13 years old and the last thing I want is for it to die, send help.

    1. Dear Brianna,
      The Chinese Juniper does not like to be wet. It prefers the soil to be barely damp.
      Where do you keep your bonsai?
      kind regards
      Sarah – Bonsai Direct

      1. I keep it outside where is has sun from around 11 to 5. It also has a pot that self drains.

  9. Hi there,

    Our bonsai is a Chinese Elm and the top half of the trunk no longer had green under the bark…. but lower half does. The bottom half however is sprouting buds. These leaves tend to go black at the tips but not across the whole leaf. They then shrivel up and drop. After taking him out the soil to check the roots we realised the soil was far too wet.

    What do you recommend we do? Any help would be much appreciated!

    Kind regards

  10. Hi Ollie,
    I suspect that the over-watering has caused the top of your Chinese Elm to due off.
    Basically, the roots start to rot slowly over a period of time and the bonsai slowly declines in health.
    Please only water when the soil is barely damp and then only water minimally.
    You have to let the roots regrow and strengthen before you will notice an improvement in the leaves and canopy.
    When it starts to recover you will be able to take some long shoots from lower on the bonsai and allow them to get really long.
    Ultimately wrap the around the trunk which has died off and use that as a skeleton.
    The new foliage will then establish and in time it is very successful.
    I hope this helps
    kind regards

  11. I have a young Carmona retusa and the leaves have been shrivelled up for some time, most have not lost their green colour however the tree appears very weak.
    Any recommendations on what could help?

    1. Hi Beck,
      Did the leaves go dry and crispy? Could it have been caused by lack of water?
      kind regards Sarah

  12. Hi,
    I have a Satsuki Azalea bonsai tree and I am afraid I over watered it. The leaves are still green but they are all wilted. Is there anyway I can save it? The pot that it is in is already irrigated with holes in the bottom. Thanks!

    1. The only thing you can do is keep the soil barely damp. I am assuming it is outdoors, so you may need to cover the pot with some polyethene so it does not get too wet.
      It will take many weeks for the roots to strengthen and you will not see any improvement until the roots are stronger.
      I hope this helps
      kind regards Sarah

  13. Please help. I have a Ligustrum Sinense. We have recently moved house and it started thriving, was full of new shoots and was doing great. But now its completely bare. Some of the leaves had black tips and I know thats overwatering but then some also were completely crispy and dried out like we had underwatered it. Please help!? I love treebeard dearly but cant seem to keep him happy for longer than a few weeks

    1. Dear Rachel,
      Is the bonsai wobbly in the pot or very firm and strong – a ligustrum is a vigorous variety so usually it is more likely to dry out than be over-watered but black tips are a sign of over watering.
      Kind regards Sarah

  14. I have a hawaiian umbrella bonsai. The upper stems seem to be turning black and the leaves are curling. Can it recover from whatever i did you it?

    1. Dear Kristal,
      Blackened on stems and leaves is usually a watering issue or due to cold. Firstly you need to find the cause. This is a variety I am unfamiliar with, do you think this could be over-watering?
      If so is the trunk wobbly in the pot?
      kind regards Bonsai Direct Team

  15. Hi Sarah,

    I bought this Mandarin Ligustrum about a week ago.

    As you can see in the pictures, it looks very healthy and is growing fast.

    My concern is, that since I bought it, I have only watered it once.

    3 days after buying it, the soil was still wet and it didnt have signs of needing water.

    Yesterday I watered it because the soil started turning a bit brown, nevertheless, today the soil is still completely damped.

    I watered it by submerging it for a few seconds up to where it starts growing.

    As you can see I use a humidity tray but the water does not touch the exit holes.

    Do you know this lack of watering is normal?

    It is next to a window, facing North so it does not get a lot of direct sun light.

    Maybe I should remove the humidity tray??

    Any advice would be much appreciated.


    1. Dear Ignacio.
      The frequency of watering will depend upon many things including how much light, how hot it is and what soil the bonsai is in.
      If the bonsai is potted into a compost which is not free draining you will need to be careful not to overwater it.
      A north facing window should be fine, it will still get sufficient light.
      Only water when the soil is barely damp to the touch and then when you do water please water well.
      Please ensure the bonsai does not stand in water by keeping the drip tray fairly empty.
      Kind regards

  16. Hi, I’ve had a Fukien tea since summer 2017 and have had no major problems but now it’s losing leaves faster than ever, every day there’s about 7-8 new dead leaves that are browning from the tip inwards and fall away if I touch them. It is very worrying as most of its branches are bare now and although new flower buds are growing, there is no evidence of leaf growth. It may have been overwatered as I always watered when the soil was still fairly damp. Is it too late to save it? Will new leaves grow back now that it’s winter and should I buy some bonsai food to help it? Thanks in advance xx

  17. Dear Sophie,
    This definitely sounds like over-watering. Please keep the soil barely damp and position the bonsai in a warm position with an even temperature.
    It will take many weeks to see any improvement because the roots have to strengthen first. Baically overwatering cuases root rot. If the roots are weak then the leaves die off.
    You need to allow time for the roots to get strong. Pleae do not feed the bonsai until it has leaves on it.
    I hope this helps
    kind regards Sarah

    1. Thank you so much for your help I will be sure to follow your advice carefully x

  18. Hi,
    I have a pinus aristata, and this is my first time working with bonsai. It was grown from a seed and now the tips of the needles are starting to brown, but I can see new growth in the center of the tree. Would you say this is a result of overwatering?

    1. Hi Brenda,
      Over-watering is very common in pines; they do like to be on the dryish side,
      Without seeing it, it is difficult to say conclusively,
      kind regards Sarah

  19. Hi, I was hoping to get help with my bonsai tree. I don’t know which type is it, because the card placed in it does not say, but I believe it is an indoor bonsai from what I have read. The trouble is I think I might have overwatered it and I believe it might not be getting enough sun too. Otherwise, it’s overwatered to much and is having lots of trouble. When I first got it I did not outback it in direct sun and it was starting to brown, so we moved it to an area we believed would be sunnier. It was still browning and the soil felt dry, so I gave it some water. Now the soil feels really wet and the leave are continuing to brown and develop little spots on it. It’s only been three days and I really do not want it to die. Could you please help?

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      You will not be able to over-water a bonsai in 3 days; it will not cause any issues at all.
      I think maybe contact the place where you purchased the bonsai – they should tell you what species it is so you can give it the correct care.
      Kind regards

  20. Hi, I got a Chinese sweet plum bonsai from bonsai direct for Christmas. Since I got it many leaves have fallen off leaving bare branches. Also, half of my bonsai is bare with only a few new shoots. It seems that I am not watering my bonsai enough, but I can’t decide if the leaves are brown from overwatering. (I make sure I water it every few days) What should I do 🙁 ?
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Dear Eleanor,
      Please could you send some photos to me so I can be sure and give you the correct advice,
      Many thanks

  21. Hi, you seem to be very knowledgeable about bonsai trees and my tree is struggling, please help! I have a 3yr old bonsai tree named Leif Erikson. My trees leaves are starting to turn brown, from the bottom up and also on the very tips of the branches. I’ve been trying to research what the issue may be, but it is very difficult given that browning can occur with both underwatering and overwatering. I know my tree is 3 years old, but I have no idea when his soil has been changed since I got him about a month ago. I keep him indoors because i’m afraid he will get stolen if hes outdoors, but i keep him in the sunniest windowseal at my place with other plant friends. I would also love to send you a photo if that would help. Thank you so much!

    1. Dear Alana,
      This does sound like over-watering but you have not said what variety of bonsai you have.
      It may be simply in the wrong position.
      Kind regards

  22. Dear Sarah,

    We got a beautiful Chinese pepper bonsai tree at the beginning of March and it has been through a lot of watering since then. First of all, we had to get rid of tiny flies which were coming out of the soil. We’d had this issue before with other plants, so we watered the bonsai with a solution containing nematodes, which do the job nicely. However, the bonsai also received a lot of water during the nematode treatment.

    A couple of days later, we noticed green lice on the branches, so the tree was sprayed with organic non-soap solution. No more lice, but again – extra water.

    All in all, the bonsai tree turned from absolutely beautiful to – not so much. The garden centre, where the plant was purchased, said to make sure the tree gets enough light and keep checking that the soil is damp, but not too wet.
    We have not watered in a few days now while the plant sits in a well-lit area and even gets a bit of sun in the morning. The soil is still damp. If we drive a wooden stick all the way to the bottom of the pot, the stick comes out lightly moist. The leaves are totally dry and crunchy (still green, no yellow or brown or black tips) – probably because the roots cannot absorb any more water by now.
    The question is – how do we keep the soil damp without giving it too much water? What is the best method? We don’t want to dunk it and soak the pot as it might be too much for the plant again. Should we repot the tree?

    We are totally stumped. Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,
    PS: I can send pictures if need be.

    1. Hi Andrea,
      I think that some photos would be useful. This is a very easy bonsai to care for.
      I think you should perhaps re-visit the garden centre where it was purchased. The small flies are nothing to worry about; they are actually soil based and are associated with damp soil – they do no harm to the bonsai.
      If the leaves have gone dry and crispy then did it dry out?
      Many thanks Sarah

  23. Hi my Chinese Elm is 7 years old (but i only got it for christmas). At first it was thriving and growing a lot, now all the leaves have been turning yellow then brown and then crisping off even though i was watering regularly. There was white bits on the top of the soil and the bottom of the trunk. the trunk has also become very loose. i figured this was down to overwatering and have not been watering for some time, it has dried it seems. how do i go forward from here as it doesn’t seem to be growing again? do i water or not?

    1. Dear Jayna,
      This does sound like overwatering.
      The trouble with over-watering is that the roots rot (hence the bonsai wobbles) and they become totally inefficient at taking up water.
      The bonsai will not look any better until the roots regrow.
      I hope this link helps:
      kind regards
      ps. please bare in mind that recovery will take many weeks/months as the roots must regrow before any leaves can develop.

  24. My bonsai which the lady we night it from said it was a Chinese juniper but I’m no expert is looking pretty rough! I was noticing our tree which has been inside was looking dry and is lose in the pot so I gave it a bit more water. Ow I’m afraid I have been over watering. We left for vacation for a Few days and I didn’t water the tree because the soil was wet and the bottom of the tree had wet marks. When we got back the trunk is still wet and I noticed little bugs in the soil! Is there anything you think I could do? I’ve had the tree almost a year. I don’t know how everything went downhill!

    1. Hi Mary,
      Are you keeping this bonsai indoors? A chinese juniper should be outside; it is a very hardy evergreen outdoor species. Are the little bugs tiny black flies in the soil? if so they will do no harm.
      Kind regards

  25. Hi,
    My bonsai tree is a ligustrum , 14 years old and i had it for about 3 months. Some leaves are turning yellow and are falling off, others have brown crispy tips and others look like they have little cuts on them. But i can’t seem to find any evidence of an insect ifestation that could account for the little cuts?
    I’m just not sure if i have an over watering issue or a combination of things?

    Thanks for any help!

  26. Hi Laura,
    I think the best thing to do is if your email some photos please.
    It sounds like a watering issue.
    Kind regards

  27. Hi! i HAVE A SMALL JAPANESE BONSAI TREE, what happened to me is that one day I forgot removing the tree from the water tank for a very long time.
    From that day on the leaves started falling down and there is a part of the trunk that I feel is starting to dry.
    What can I do?
    Thank you for your help!

    1. I suspect one day in a water tank will do no harm at all.
      If you are worried please send a photo to [email protected] and include details as to what has happened.
      many thanks

  28. Hi, I have a Juniper bonsai that I’ve had for about two months now. I believe I may have over watered it because it has started to drop leaves, all of the leaves are still green though so I’m not too sure. What would the best course of action be to make sure my tree stays strong and healthy?

    1. Dear Brandon,
      Junipers like to be kept just damp and not wet so the only thing you can do is reduce the watering.
      Are you keeping it outside?
      kind regards

  29. Hello,

    recently, I have gotten a Juniper Bonsai tree. About a week ago, I realized that the needles started to act very sharp and crumbly. They also became a less vibrant shade of green, going on yellow. i think that it’s dying. When I scratch through a part of the trunk, it’s not green. I over watered them. Do you know if my bonsai can still be saved?

    1. Hi Jon,
      If there is no green cambium layer then I feel the roots have rotted. If you have only recently had the juniper this may not be the case because root rot takes many many weeks.
      Are you keeping this bonsai inside or outside? Please check for green in many places ie trunk and branches.
      A photo would help please.
      best regards Sarah

  30. My bonsai was thriving. Now the branches are spongy and leaves fell off. What can I do?? I wish I could send a picture.

    1. Please send photos to [email protected] so we can see the issue. Please also let us know which bonsai you have and how long you have had it. with thanks

  31. Hello,
    I have an indoor bonsai tree which I purchased 4-5 months ago.In the first 3 months my tree start blossom and looked very healthy but after that, in December it’s leaves start to be some crispy and some wilted but still green (probably because I place it next to the window and was colder ; now all of them fall off and I don’t really know what happened to it.I checked if it died but under the bark is still green.I must mention that the tree is wobbly in the pot when I move it and as well, the soil’s moss is not green anymore (I really liked that feature and I’d like to bring it back).Now, I’m not quite sure what type of tree it is but I suspect to be ficus.Could you help me get it in his shape please?I love the tree very much and I got it from dad

    1. Do you know what species of bonsai you have? Thanks Sarah

  32. I bought a bonsai tree in Florida last year but am unaware of the type of bonsai it is. It has been very happy and I have never had issues with it. I’m fact, I repotted it recently because of how fast it was growing. However, I think I may have overwatered it when I repotted it, two weeks later the soil was still very moist. None of the leaves have turned brown, just yellow and wilting. Tree trunk is spongy. I tried to do some research on what to do, and I read that I should replant into dry soil. But more leaves are turning and the upper leaves are starting to wilt. HELP! What do I do? So much conflicting information out there.

    1. Dear Ashley,
      Thanks for your message.I think it may be better to see the nursery where you purchased the bonsai.
      Without seeing it it is almost impossible for me to help.
      Over watering rots the roots and makes the bonsai inefficient at taking up water so the leaves wilt.
      I hope you understand I do not want to give you the wrong information,
      kind regards

  33. Hi, I bought a ficus bonsai tree a week ago from IKEA. I have watered it but didn’t realise that the water had just sat at the bottom on the dish so the tree has been sat in water for a few days. An alarming number of leaves have fallen off and when I touch the “trunk” of the tree, parts are squishy and cracking. I have removed the excess water and placed on a windowsill to allow more sun and hopefully dry it up a bit. Google suggest root rot and sounds like it’s too late for my tree. Is there anything I can do?

    1. Dear Samantha,
      I can understand your concern but I think you are unlikely to have done any long term damage after one week. I suspect the bonsai is re-acclimatising which is why you have some leaf drop.
      Please keep away from direct sun as it has been so hot and hopefully over the next couple of weeks the leaf drop will stabilise and new leaves will begin the develop.
      I hope this helps
      Bonsai Direct Team

  34. Hi

    I have a Chinese elm and it is showing signs of over watering, leaves are falling off and in areas there are no leaves at all. I was wondering how i start the road to recovery? I have tried to dry out the soil slightly but i am wondering how often i water the tree and soil now while it’s recovering.
    Thanks for any help

    1. Hi Matthew,
      You need to keep the soil just damp and mist the leaves daily with water.
      It will take at least 2 months to see improvements as the roots need to recover before you see signs of new leaves.
      I hope this helps

  35. Hi there,

    I was given a bonsai as a gift this August. It has started to go really dry. The leaves are falling off. They are mostly still green but very dry looking and some have turned brown. I tried repotting it with new soil and put a small amount of feed in and watered as I saw in the instructions as there was white mould growing and now there is white mould again. I’m afraid I have killed it what can I do to help it? Im hoping it isn’t too late. I’m looking for some advice as I am abit lost and it is my first bonsai.

    Thank you ❤️

    1. Hi there,
      If there are still some green leaves then this is a good sign. The white mould is most likely harmless, and it sounds like you just have a small watering issue.
      If you could kindly send some photos to [email protected] we can take a look for you.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  36. Hi, I have a ficus bonsai with yellowing leaves that are dropping off. I’ve reduce the water to every five or six days. The soil is made up of lava rock and tree bark soil, there’s a lot of new shoots on the ends of the smaller branches and the sides. I’m wondering if the yellowing process takes time to stop it’s not an instantaneous thing once you start watering it less. I put it in front of her sliding glass door with a lot of bright light in addition to a grow light. Any help would be appreciated thank you

    1. Hi Robert,
      The yellowing leaves sounds like a bit of seasonal change, which is completely normal and nothing to worry about at this time of year.
      It could also be a slight lack of nutrients. Lava rocks contains no nutrients at all, so we would recommend feeding weekly with a bonsai fertiliser.
      The yellowing will take a while to stop whilst the bonsai recovers, possibly 6 weeks. Please keep the soil just damp at all times (but not wet), and your bonsai should be just fine.
      I hope this helps.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  37. Thanku Sarah, I dig down about an inch when checking the soil. If it’s about the same color as the dried out top stones I water it. Living here in New Jersey and being indoors it’s only about 68° and I let it get a little bit on the dryer side but not totally dried out. Dryness is subjective sometimes it takes a little while to learn what that is. I will give it fertilizer the next time as well as missed leaves every time I do give it water. Thank you for your help and say a prayer for the young ficus!

  38. Hi Sarah, is miracle grow at half strength good for a ficus bonsai?

    1. I am sorry I honestly don’t know. I know full strength burns the roots. Best wishes Sarah

  39. How wld u check to see when a ficus bonsai in lava rock and tree bark soil needs water? The pot is about 3inches deep, I’ve been letting the top lava rock get lite in color and than digging down almost to the bottom where there is a some dirt. When the bottom gets dry I water it. About every 6-8 days . Does this sound about right?

  40. My soil is made up of lava rock and tree bark. I let the top stones dry out dig down to the bottom where there is still dirt and if that gets dry i water the plant. This usually takes 6 to 8 days. Does this sound about right? The plant is a ficus bonsai. I live in New Jersey and the temperature in doors is about 68 and it’s the winter time now. So I didn’t want to overwater I noticed some leaves were starting to yellow but there’s still a lot of new shoots. What do you think?

    1. Dear Bob.
      You will get seasonal leaf drop at this time of year. If new buds are growing all is well.
      The best way to check watering is to feel the soil ; do not watering if wet.
      Only water when barely damp to the touch.
      I hope this helps
      Happy New Year
      Sarah – Bonsai Direct

  41. Thank you for your reply, when you say check the soil are you talking about the lava rock and tree bark or the dirt at the bottom of the pot? The lava rock dries out about 5 to 6 days, but the dirt at the bottom still feels wet.

  42. Hi, I have an indoor Ficus Bonsai, all leaves have dropped over Nov-Jan. the were still green when dropped. I was watering once a week bit I feel it may have been overwatered. If I scratch any part of the trunk it’s brown underneath. The roots do look wet. I can also see some white at the base of the trunk. I have just pruned all branches back one quarter. Am I able to save this? Should I repot? Do I need to do anything to stop the white fungus? There doesn’t seem to be an option to post photos. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi,
      Unfortunately if the cambium layer (just under the bark) is not green, the bonsai is very unlikely to recover.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  43. How do you check the lava rock to see if it is dry enough to water the ficus?. The pot is about 2-3” deep. The only soil is some on the bottom of the pot. I have been letting the top of the lava rock dry out then dig down about a half inch, if that’s dry than I water it.

    1. Hi,
      I’m really sorry, but I wouldn’t like to say. I would recommend asking the nursery where you purchased it from.
      Usually we would ensure that the hole is big enough so you can still touch the soil, but it is definitely worth checking the details of your specific bonsai with the grower.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  44. Hello,
    I’m trying to work out if there is an problem with my Tree of a Thousand Stars… I was given it a month ago from your site and read in the information booklet provided that dropping leaves is normal in the first few weeks after arrival as it adjusts to the new environment, so i wasn’t too worried at first. but at this point lots of leaves are still turning brown and dry completely or at the tips and dropping, and there is a small amount of white stuff at the biggest roots. the white stuff seems chalky rather than fuzzy and disappears when i touch it rather than sticking to my fingers, so i’m wondering if it is mould or maybe calcium deposit from the water i’m using? i water only when it is only slightly damp like the booklet and web says, which ends up being around every 3-4 days. please can you advise me if i’m doing something wrong or if there’s something i need to do? I am so happy with the tree, it’s beautiful, and i really don’t want to kill it.
    i also read online that if it is mould you can use vinegar to treat it. is this a bad idea?
    thank you!!

    1. Hi Alex,
      This sounds like a slight watering issue. Please keep the soil just damp at all times. Here is a link to our watering video:
      The Tree of a Thousand Stars also likes to be kept warmer, so if you think that it could have got cold at any point, please move it to a warmer location away from draughts if possible.
      The white stuff on the soil will just be a mineral build-up, and is nothing to worry about and can be removed with a soft brush if you wish.
      Misting the leaves and branches regularly with water will help increase the humidity and encourage new buds to form.
      Please do not use vinegar, as this will kill the bonsai.
      I hope this helps.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  45. Hi
    I have had my buddhist pine bonsai since Christmas and it was doing well with lots of new growth but recently there seems to be something wrong with it. It seems to be going black from the top downwards- at first I thought I might of overwatered it so I left it until it seemed like it was too dry but this didn’t really seem to help. I thought maybe it was a natural thing as I am new to owning a bonsai but the growth on the parts changing colour seemed to be dying so I cut back the bits going a black/ brown colour to try and save it. It hasn’t really helped but I have only recently done it, new growth seems to be struggling too. I am worried it is beyond saving and am looking for advice. I would replace the soil but I cannot get bonsai soil easily and I am worried it will stress it further. There are still green parts on it so I am hoping it is not too late! Could it be that I have moved it a few times from home to university? I didn’t think that would be an issue but I didn’t want to leave it to dry out while I was away either.
    Thank you in advance,

    1. Hi Skye,
      Please keep the soil just damp to the touch at all times. Here is a link to our watering video, which you may find helpful:
      It is unlikely that moving the bonsai would cause this to happen, and I think that this may just be a simple watering issue.
      I would also recommend misting the leaves and branches regularly with water to increase the humidity.
      I hope this helps.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  46. Hi there,
    I just received a ficus bonsai 5 days ago. I’m not sure how long it was in transit for, but when it arrived it looked as if it had been a bit bashed about and the soil was very dry. It is also very loose in the soil and wiggly. It’s in quite a shallow pot with good drainage so I’ve been keeping it well watered and on a bright windowsill. It looks to be quite healthy but is there a way I can improve its stability? How much water does a ficus prefer too? I’ve just been keeping the soil damp by watering daily and letting it drain fully as it was so dry when I got it, but am thinking it can probable do with less now as I really dont want to over water it and make the roots weak and even less stable? I really want to keep it as healthy as possible!
    Thanks so much

    1. Hi Fiona,
      You can usually just firm the soil down around the base of the trunk to help stabilise it, or you could wire it in if it isn’t already. Over time the roots will grow and fill out the pot, so will naturally stabilise itself. Please keep the soil just damp at all times. Here is a link to our watering video, which you may find helpful:
      If the bonsai is looking healthy then I should think you have nothing to worry about, and the most important thing is to get the watering right.
      I hope this helps.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  47. Hello,

    I have a little leaf linden and the leaves in the canopy are turning brown and dropping off. The lower leaves are still green. The bonsai has pushed out what look like new buds. I am not sure if I am over watering or under watering. It got a little dry a number of months ago when I didn’t water it one day. I am in SF California and didn’t expect it to get hot. I now have it in partial shade and I have been soaking it every week. It seems to keep losing leaves that turn brown and fall off. Any help is appreciated.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Cat,
      If there are new buds then this is a good sign. I would recommend stopping soaking the bonsai, as this will lead to overwatering. Please keep the soil just damp at all times, and mist the leaves daily with water to increase humidity.
      Here is a link to our watering video, which you may find helpful:

      It may take 6 weeks before you see any improvements, but hopefully your bonsai will start to look better in the coming weeks.
      I hope this helps.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  48. Hello, I have had my Syzygium Bonsai for around 2 weeks. The area where I have kept it is not naturally humid so I placed it on top of a humidity tray but soon realised that I could potentially be drowning it. Now the roots have turned white and so has the lower half of the trunk. Apart from refraining from watering it for atleast a week, what should I do?

    1. Hi Maya,
      As long as the holes in the bottom of the pot are not submerged in water on the humidity tray then this won’t be causing a problem. Please keep the soil just damp to the touch at all times, and mist the leaves daily with water to increase humidity. I would still recommend checking daily for water even if the bonsai has been overwatered, as it is really important that the bonsai doesn’t dry out.
      Here is a link to our watering video, which you may find helpful:
      Please position your bonsai in a bright location avoiding direct sunlight (something like an East/West facing windowsill is ideal).
      I hope this helps.
      Kind regards,
      Bonsai Direct

  49. I have never owned a bonsai before and was thrilled to receive a gift from Bonsai Direct. Its growing really well & I love it. Thanks guys. Have a great day/evening!

  50. I have an Azalea Bonsai tree and it’s leaves have gone brown and crunchy I can’t tell if it’s still alive or dead or dying. How do I tell why it’s looking like this? What do I need to do? Help Please..

    1. Hi Cyn,
      It is difficult for us to diagnose a problem without seeing a bonsai. Could you email us a few photos of your bonsai?
      Many thanks,
      The Bonsai Direct Care Team.

  51. Hello, I was given a Carmona Bonsai a present. It was fine for ages but has changed with the colder weather. The leaves have gone droppy as well as some leaves have some brown sections/abit yellow. There is also some light white patches on the soil but this has improved. I’ve moved the plant to my work as its much warmer. Can I have some advice on care please i.e. how often to water the plant. Worried im going to overwater it.

    1. Hi Sophie,
      Is it possible for you to email us some photos at [email protected]?
      Many thanks,
      Bonsai Direct

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