We are frequently asked advice on watering indoor bonsai trees, such as the Chinese Elm Bonsai (Ulmus parviflolia), Chinese Sweet Plum Bonsai (Sageretia theezans), Oriental Tea Tree Bonsai (Carmona microphylla), Fig Bonsai (Ficus retusa), Tree of a Thousand Stars (Serissa foetida) and Aromatic Pepper Tree Bonsai (Zanthoxylum piperitum).
Watering is the most important part of growing bonsai.
Check your bonsai morning and evening to see if it needs watering. If the soil looks dark and feels wet then it will not require watering. Only when the soil looks light brown and feels BARELY damp will your bonsai require more water.
When the soil is barely damp to the touch pour water evenly all over the soil surface until the water drains through into a tray or saucer.
It is important to never let your bonsai dry out and avoid keeping it constantly wet. The soil should go from wet to damp between watering. Remember the hotter the position the more water your bonsai will use.
If the soil surface becomes hard during hot weather simply submerge your bonsai in water, to cover the soil surface, for about ten minutes.
Please do NOT allow your bonsai to stand in water. A little water in the drip tray is beneficial to increase the humidity but if a bonsai stands in water it will cause root rot.
Symptoms of under-watering your bonsai.
If your bonsai does dry out the leaves will become crispy/papery and dry and begin to drop off. Total dehydration will kill any bonsai or houseplant. However, if only slightly dehydrated please stand in water for 10 minutes to re-wet the soil evenly. Then you need to be patient – it could take 4-6 weeks for your bonsai to re-bud. During this period do not be inclined to over-water. Your bonsai will have less foliage so just needs to be kept slightly damp. You can help encourage new green buds to form by misting the branches with water using a mister.
Symptoms of over-watering your bonsai.
Over-watering your bonsai for a long period of time can result in root rot; this results in the roots becoming compromised and inefficient at transporting water to the tips of the leaves.
An over-watered bonsai can look wilty (not dis-similar to one which needs watering) but this is usually preceded by indications of black tips to the leaves. Please ensure you ONLY water your bonsai when the soil is barely damp to the touch.