Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Transplant Bonsai Trees

By Kit Arbuckle ; Updated September 21, 2017
Repot your bonsai to maintain its health.

Bonsai can live for many years. The small planters confine the roots and maintain the trees’ small sizes. To keep a bonsai healthy and allow new growth, they need to be transplanted regularly. Fast-growing plants, such as willow, may need repotted more than once a year, while evergreens will only need transplanting every three to five years. Transplant your bonsai trees after you finish other seasonal care, like pruning.

Prepare the soil mix using 1 part sand, 1 part peat and 1 part loam or compost. If you have an evergreen bonsai, make the mix 2 parts sand to 1 part peat and 1 part loam. Stir until well mixed.

Remove the bonsai from the planter. Be gentle and careful of the delicate branches, trunk and roots. Lay the bonsai aside.

Dump the old soil in your compost bin, garden or yard. Clean the pot with hot water and soap. Scrub off any residue. Rinse well and dry.

Remove the dirt from the bonsai’s roots. Trim off about 1 inch of the roots with scissors, untangling as you go. Cut off roots larger in diameter than a pencil and any that feel stiff. This will help develop smaller feeder roots.

Place a small amount of soil mix into the cleaned planter. Put the bonsai in and spread the roots. Adjust the plant to your liking. Fill with the potting mix.

Water the bonsai thoroughly, letting the water settle the soil. Add more soil to fill any air holes or gaps. Water again and allow it to drain.


Things You Will Need

  • Sand
  • Peat
  • Loam
  • Soap
  • Scrub brush
  • Scissors


  • After transplanting, place your bonsai in a protected location for several days, such as near a window indoors.
  • Fertilize with a 20-20-20 formulation from spring until fall.

About the Author


Kit Arbuckle is a freelance writer specializing in topics such as health, alternative medicine, beauty, senior care, pets and landscaping. She has training in landscaping and a certification in medicinal herbs from a botanical sanctuary.