How to Take Care of Bonsai Plants


Bonsai is the ancient Chinese art of pruning trees so they grow as miniatures. This art soon spread throughout Japan, where it flourished and gained worldwide fame. Translated into "potted tree," a bonsai plant lasts hundreds of years if cared for properly. Cypress, spruce and juniper trees are the most common trees used for bonsai. Taking care of a bonsai plant is not a difficult task, but it requires a timely schedule of watering, feeding and pruning so the tree remains healthy.

Step 1

Mix 1/3 sand to 2/3 soil to create loamy soil that drains well for your bonsai plant. Add this mixture to a container or pot every time you repot a young bonsai plant, which is usually every three years. Make sure you transplant bonsai plant immediately to prevent it from spending too much time out of the potting soil.

Step 2

Water the soil around your bonsai plant when it feels dry to the touch. Push your finger an inch deep into the soil, and water if it comes out dry. Use a watering can or spray bottle to prevent wetting the foliage. Mist your plant frequently to provide it the humid environment it requires to thrive and grow.

Step 3

Place the bonsai plant in a sunny location, or one that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day.

Step 4

Fertilize the bonsai plant year-round, at half the recommended strength. Select a low-nitrogen fertilizer for summer feeding, and one that contains no nitrogen for fall or winter feedings.

Step 5

Prune your bonsai plant to maintain its appearance. Use sharp pruning scissors to trim stems and branches and use your fingers to pinch back tiny leaves. Cut the top of the trunk off to give it a compact, bushy appearance. Trim the roots every time you repot your bonsai plant. Lift the plant carefully, shake off excess dirt off, and snip long roots off.

Step 6

Wire your bonsai to train it to grow in your desired shape. Use copper or aluminum wiring, wrapping the trunk first, followed by the major branches, and then the smaller ones. Anchor the wire around the trunk in the soil, and provide several loops around the trunk to anchor the branch wires. Make sure you do not wrap the wire too tight, as you could risk injuring your bonsai. Snip the wire off with wire cutters after four to six months when the bonsai's shape has changed.

Step 7

Protect your tree from pests such as spider mites and disease such as yellow spots. Provide it plenty of water, sunlight and fresh air. Spray soapy water over your plant to deter aphids and spider mites, and spray a commercial insect spray over yellow spots that appear on the foliage.

Things You'll Need

  • Sand
  • Soil
  • Watering can
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning scissors
  • Spray bottle
  • Commercial insect spray


  • Bonsai SIte: Bonsai Maintenance
  • Bonsai Empire: Bonsai Care Guidelines
  • Bonsai West: Basic Bonsai Care
Keywords: bonsai plants, bonsai plant care, 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.