How to Care for Bonsai Plants


Bonsai is a Japanese expression used to describe the art of re-creating natural landscapes in miniature form. This form of horticultural manipulation evolved from the Chinese study of trees growing in the wild. Caring for a bonsai trees differs significantly from other traditional house or container plants. Watering, location and fertilization must be customized for bonsai trees, which are potentially full-sized trees that are dwarfed for aesthetic purposes.

Step 1

Find an appropriate location for your bonsai tree. The most important consideration is that the lighting and humidity levels suit the specific tree species. Find an optimal viewpoint of the tree, as bonsais are to be enjoyed as an ornament. Choose a location that is convenient for trimming, watering and otherwise working with the tree.

Step 2

Learn the art of watering. Watering bonsai trees is one of the most complicated of care procedures. According to the book "Bonsai 101," bonsai trees need to be watered daily during the spring, summer and fall months unless otherwise noted. During the winter, they should go dormant without being left to dry out completely.

Step 3

Use potting mix that offers proper drainage. Bonsai soil must be freely draining. No matter which species of tree you have, it is imperative that the roots have access to water, but not stand in it. Use a standard mix of one part loam, two parts peat moss and two parts coarse sand.

Step 4

Feed bonsai trees regularly with fertilizer. Follow the feeding requirements for your tree species. Watch for brown and fallen leaves, which can indicate too much fertilizer.

Step 5

Prune both roots and leaves. Root pruning allows new feeder roots to develop that strengthen the tree. Shorten roots by one-third annually. Trim leaves regularly throughout the growing season. This is done to refine the tree's shape and encourage bushier growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Bonsai tree
  • Watering can or hose
  • Potting soil
  • Pruning scissors


  • Bonsai 101: Essential Tips; Harry Tomlinson; 1996
Keywords: bonsai tree basics, basic care for bonsai trees, bonsai tree care

About this Author

Leah Deitz has been writing alternative health and environmental-related articles for over five years. She began her writing career at a small newspaper covering city politics but turned to environmental concerns after beginning her freelance career. When she is not exploring the trails and outdoors of the East Coast, Deitz writes for a number of different websites.