How to Maintain a Bonsai Tree


Bonsai is a centuries old art of pruning trees to stunt their growth so they are miniature versions of giant trees. Originating in China, this art was taken up by hobbyists in Japan, where it evolved and grew. Literally meaning "tree in a pot," bonsai is created from most perennial shrubs or trees, with the most common choices including spruce, juniper and cypress. Maintaining a bonsai tree requires a regular schedule of pruning, watering and feeding. With proper care and maintenance, your bonsai tree can live up to hundreds of years.

Step 1

Water your bonsai frequently so the soil remains evenly moist at all times. The amount of water depends on the type of bonsai tree you have. Keep in mind that deciduous trees require more water, as they run the risk of dehydration. Water with a watering can or fine spray, and try not to stir the soil.

Step 2

Place your bonsai in a well-lit room, as it requires plenty of sunlight. A warm spot with at least five to six hours of sunlight is suitable. If placing it inside, keep the temperature of the room moderate, and place the tree over a humidity tray to protect against harsh, dry indoor air.

Step 3

Mix two parts soil to one part sand to create well-draining sandy loam for your bonsai every time you re-pot it. A young bonsai needs frequent re-potting, every two to three years, so you can prune its roots (to keep its size small) and to allow it to absorb nutrients from fresh soil.

Step 4

Use a commercial fertilizer at half strength all year round. Make sure it has a low nitrogen content, if feeding your bonsai in the summer, and no nitrogen in fall and winter to slow its growth so it stores its energy.

Step 5

Prune your bonsai frequently to maintain its small size. Prune stems, foliage and roots. Shorten or remove branches to maintain the shape, and remove the top of the trunk to give it a compact appearance. Prune the roots when re-potting your bonsai.

Step 6

Inspect your indoor bonsai for small webs or yellow spots on the foliage. Spider mites damage bonsai trees considerably. Spray a nontoxic insect spray over the yellow spots, and use soapy water to remove spider mites and aphids.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never re-pot a newly planted bonsai during the first year. Avoid pruning your bonsai too much, as it could kill the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering can
  • Humidity tray
  • Sand
  • Soil
  • Commercial fertilizer
  • Pruning scissors


  • Bonsai Site: Bonsai Maintenance
  • Bonsai Tree Care Tips: How to Care For Your Bonsai Tree Type
  • Bonsai West: Caring For Your Bonsai
  • Bonsai Empire: Bonsai Care Guidelines
Keywords: bonsai tree maintenance, bonsai tree care, maintain bonsai tree, keeping bonsai tree

About this Author

Tanya Khan is a freelance author and consultant, having written hundreds of thousands of words for various online and print sources. She has an MBA in Marketing but her passion lies in giving her words wings.