How to Take Care of a Bonsai Tree?

Feb 12, 2022 | Beginner Bonsai, Bonsai Pots

What Is Bonsai?

If we have to describe bonsai in two words, it would be miniature trees. The craft of crafting bonsai trees originated in Japan, where it was extremely popular among people as a prized asset or decor to keep in homes, symbolic of good luck and energy.

With time, the bonsai has become quite celebrated and desired all across the world in all other cultures. However, barring a couple of varietes, bonsai is not your regular next-door house plant that can be easily cared for and is forgiving. Bonsai needs a little extra effort, but in the end, it’s all worth it!

Elements of Bonsai Care and Maintenance


Though lighting requirements change depending on which variety of bonsai you have, you can consider an average of 5 to 6 hours of daylight per day as the failsafe range. You can research more on whether your specific variety needs direct or indirect sunlight.


First, you need to ensure whether your bonsai is an indoor bonsai or an outdoor bonsai. Generally, the bonsai exhibits characteristics similar to those of its bigger brother. For example, pine, spruce, and juniper are some of common bonsai varieties that behave similar to their regular counterparts. Some great indoor choices are ficus and jade.


Watering is something that you’ve to be extra careful about. Too little can dry up the bonsai from the inside and too much can lead it to decay and early demise. When it comes to watering bonsai, it differs a little from how’d water your regular indoor beauties. 

It’s generally advised that a plant should be watered once the soil surface dries up. However, for bonsai trees, you’ve to go one step further. Check the top 1 to 1.5 inches of soil. If that layer is dry, then it’s time you water it.

The basic purpose of watering your bonsai tree is to completely saturate the root system. Continue watering until water escapes through the drainage holes to ensure sufficient saturation. Many bonsai trees come with a tray to catch excess water to allow for appropriate drainage.


If your bonsai leaves are turning yellow or pale, then it might be an indication that you need to repot. As a routine you can repot your bonsai every 5 years, but then again it depends on which variety you have.


Fertilisers come in different shapes and sizes – and specific applications. The fertiliser you’d normally use for your backyard plants would highly differ from the one you’d use for your bonsai. Only use fertilisers that are specially made for bonsai.

Pruning and Shaping

You need to regularly prune your bonsai. You can do it on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis, depending on the variety. It’s essential to keep your bonsai healthy, strong and compact. You can also prune your bonsai to mould it into a particular pattern or shape that you desire. 

  • 2 types of pruning
  • Maintenance pruning: This encourages new growth, which strengthens the tree. By removing immature branches and leaves, you expose the leaves underneath to air and sunshine, which nourishes the tree and improves its general health.
  • Structural pruning: Structural pruning is a more complex procedure that should be carried out only while the tree is dormant. It entails the removal of the tree’s key structural branches and calls for the expertise of a specialist to assure the tree’s recovery. 

Wiring the branches of your bonsai tree is another approach to correctly shape it. Wrapping a small wire around select branches allows you to regulate their form and development pattern. Wiring is best done in the winter when the bonsai tree’s leaves have fallen off.

Factors That Affect Bonsai Watering Needs

There are many factors on which the bonsai tree’s watering frequency depends:

  1. Season of the year
  2. Duration of exposure to sunlight
  3. Particular bonsai variety 
  4. Soil features
  5. Bonsai tree size

You can water your bonsai daily or once a couple of days depending on the above factors.

Bonsai Tree Care and Maintenance: Cheat Sheet

You definitely need to be a true bonsai enthusiast if you want to care for it at your home. Don’t worry, there are many beautiful bonsai varieties that you can consider if you’re a beginner and aren’t confident enough yet. Juniper bonsai trees are one of the most forgiving when it comes to the bonsai community. 

take care of a bonsai

If you fancy a flowering bonsai, then you can go for gardenia bonsai, that not only is known for beautiful blooms but also the fragrance that comes along with them. Here are some tips for Bonsai maintenance for a quick glance through:

  • Watering
    • Don’t water on a routine
    • Water only when the soil is dry
    • Keep bonsai away from direct heat
  • Pruning
    • Prune regularly
    • Wire branches to shape them for aesthetics
  • Soil 
    • Use stones for drainage
    • Use clay for water retention
    • Add fertiliser after watering
  • Repotting
    • Repot every 5 years or depending on variety
    • Remove unwanted roots
    • Clean the pot before repotting

The Final Shape

I hope our tips and tricks help you on your bonsai journey. Need some help or just the perfect bonsai pot for your beloved bonsai? Or do you have in mind exactly what you need but you’re not able to find it? Get your desired bonsai pots NZ custom made from us at Geyser Pots.

"The bonsai is not you working on the tree; you have to have the tree work on you." John Naka.

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